The edible flowers have a peppery flavor and a mild honey scent.
Nasturtiums, literally “hooked nose” in Latin because of their peppery flavor, originated from Mexico and Peru.
They belong to the genus Tropaeolum of which there are more than 80 species but the most well-known are late (Greater keepsake) and compact and flowering varieties (Less cup), which are more suitable for garden beds, hanging baskets, and containers.
Nasturtiums are annuals and a series of hard frosts will kill them. However, they so easily germinate their seeds in temperate climates that they look like perennials.
Planted from seed, they germinate in a matter of days. Its large seeds make it easy to grow—it’s a great crop to grow with young children; Just press them into the soil. They prefer poor light soils. If you plant it in a rich compost, it will produce lots of leafy leaves and few flowers.
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Nasturtium plants will flower about 75 days after planting. You can also purchase baskets from your garden center.
Unless you live in the desert or grow them in pots (they look great trailing from a hanging basket), you hardly need to water them.
The best varieties for home gardens
There are dozens of nasturtium varieties.
• plants Greater keepsake varieties if you want them to be traced. Yates sells “jewel blends” of scarlet, orange, yellow, salmon and rose. Kings Seeds’ range includes ‘Tall Trailing Mixed’, a mix of trailing varieties in different colours, and also ‘Purple Emperor’ in a vintage lavender colour.
• If you want compact and flowering nasturtiums (Less cup) For pots or bedding plants, choose from orange ‘Empress of India’, sumptuous dark-hued ‘Black Velvet’, ‘Day and Night’, which has mahogany blossoms and yellow spring flowers, and ‘Peach Melba’ which has flowers Cream colored sprinkled with strawberry red, pink and red ‘rumba’.
• Or choose a multi-colored variety with ‘Whirlybird Mixed’ (all seeds of royalty), an open cut variety in a range of colors including pink. For a solid pink, choose “Jewel Cherry Rose” (Mr. Fothergills).
The entire plant is edible – leaves, flowers and seeds.
Add the young leaves to a salad for a peppery zing.
The flowers also have a peppery flavor and a slight honey scent. Some people describe it as natural honey mustard. Don’t wash the flowers because they will flop, and only add them to a salad after you’ve dressed the rest with a vinaigrette and just moments before serving or they’ll wilt quickly.
The flowers are stuffed with cream cheese or pesto is made from the leaves. Blanch them in boiling water for 20 seconds, then dip them in ice water, and then puree them in a blender along with the pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, salt and Parmesan.
You can also pickle the seeds and use them like capers.
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