Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Pictured above are nasturtiums, Tropaeolum majus, one of my favorite herbs. The flowers are not only beautiful in the garden, but are one of the best edible flowers around.
A member of the Cruciferae (mustard) family, nasturtium has leaves and flowers with a great cress-like peppery taste from benzyl isothiocyanate, a form of mustard oil. High in vitamin C, the leaves as well as the flowers make a great addition to a salad of mixed greens. I have also made a delicious pesto using half nasturtium leaves and half parsley instead of the usual basil.
Now is the time of year to start growing nasturtiums here in Florida as they deteriorate in the intense heat of our summers. They also dislike extreme cold, so take care to protect them or bring them in when the temperature dips into the 30s. They're easy to grow, preferring full sun and very little fertilizer in order to flower. (Too much fertilizer will give you lots of leaves with little flowering.) Nasturtiums come in mounding and vining forms, several flower colors and a variety with variegated leaves.