Plant Life Balance

The perfect plant for adventurous foodies

How many ways can you prepare a plate with nasturtium? Oh, let us count the ways! From garnishing a cheeseboard to pickling your own version of capers, this versatile, edible plant will have you experimenting in the kitchen all spring long.

When we spoke with Sydney local legends Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards last month about their brand new cook book, Use It All: The Cornersmith Guide to a More Sustainable Kitchen, they spilled the beans that the crop they were most looking forward to growing this spring was nasturtium. Our curiosity was piqued.

Not only is it a super-simple outdoor plant to grow, nasturtium is entirely edible: you can pop the vibrant orange flowers in a salad, you can turn the leaves into pesto (hot tip: mix with another ingredient as it delivers quite a peppery hit by itself!), but most excitingly – you can pickle the seeds to make your very own caper substitute.

With its pretty bright flowers and it’s big round seeds – perfect for picking by little fingers – it’s also a great plant for kid-friendly gardens.

WHERE

Native to South and Central America, nasturtium grows happily in most parts of Australia except for cold or mountainous regions that get frost.

Nasturtiums thrive in full sun outdoors, and are pretty tolerant when it comes to soil type. They do have a tendency to spread out and climb however, and this combined with their ability to self-seed means they often pop up in places that they weren’t intended to. To keep nasturtium contained, plant in a raised garden bed, in pots or in hanging baskets.

If you have a veggie patch going, nasturtium are the perfect “decoy” plant to grow right next to your crops. Why? Because as well as doing an excellent job of attracting good pollinators such as bees and lady beetles, nasturtium also allures more pesky insects like aphids, mites, caterpillars and white fly. This is actually a good thing – it means the pests will be drawn to the nasturtium first, giving you a chance to get the situation under control before they reach the vegetables.

CARE

Nasturtium germinate easily, grow quickly and are low maintenance – making them the perfect plant for beginner green thumbs.

Spring is the perfect season to plant nasturtium seeds. When growing them for the first time, plant the seeds about an inch deep in the soil and keep moist until the plants have germinated. Once the plants are established, they don’t require much water or care, and being self-seeding, they will come back year after year without you needing to replant.

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I’m so happy that the smoke from the fires has gone away. Exposure to smoke destroys chlorophyll in plants and, thus, reduces their ability to carry out photosynthesis by as much as 50 percent! The results in deprived plants that are stressed, weakened, and may look wilted and washed out. Not to mention plants can actually have a light smokey taste if the smoke is heavy enough. The good news is that plants are pretty damn resilient. We can assist them pretty easily back to 💯 % by spraying the leaves and fruit gently with water and applying fertilizer to promote healthy roots and foliage. Happy Monday! And happy (almost) Fall 🍂 . . . . . . . #hexagonraisedbed #ihavethisthingwithflowers #victorygarden #getgrowing #gardentipsandtricks #urbanpermaculture #gardeningtips #raisedbedgardeing #urbanhomestead #permaculture #urbanorganicgardener #raisedbeds #thehappygardeninglife #raisedbedgarden #growfoodnotlawns #zonegarden8b #pnwgarden #pnwgrown #portangelesgardens #portangeles #gardentherapy #washingtongarden #gardeningmakesmehappy #gardenmovement #smallmagicalgardens #sustainablesprout #plantmedicine #learntogrow #plantmommy #nasturtiums

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ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?

There’s plenty to love about nasturtium, but perhaps one of our favourite things is that you can pickle the seeds for an easy, home-grown alternative to pickled capers. Here’s an excellent easy recipe that only calls for common pantry ingredients. Not only are the pickled seeds delicious, but the leaves and flowers are also edible. Jaimee from Cornersmith recommends you add them to your next share plate for a guaranteed party pleaser:

Put the flowers in a salad, and everyone thinks you are an Instagram star! I think everyone needs to take a moment in their lives, to think about nasturtiums, take a look at them. They really are a thing of beauty!”

Ready to give the easy-going nasturtium a crack in your garden this spring? Find your nearest nursery or garden centre here and have a chat with the experts to see if this plant is suitable for growing in your region.

1 comment

  • Everything old is new again… so true with these plants. My Grandfather had a very physical job back in the depression, his secret weapon was nasturtium leaf sandwiches, their peppery taste meant no condiments were necessary and he never got colds.
    I used to eat the flowers as a small child, one day my Gran told me to leave some for the bees to drink from.
    Still grow them and eat them today