Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Edible Balcony - First Nasturtium Bud

Another momentous milestone captured in the tragic life of a balcony gardener...... my first nasturtium bud appeared today.

                                           (Tropaeolum majus)

I'm growing nasturtiums for many reasons.
Firstly they're edible. Not just the flowers, but the leaves, flower buds and the seeds as well. When the plants have thickened up and started to spread, start picking the leaves and flowers.The flowerbuds can be pickled like capers and the leaves have a pungent peppery flavour that can enhance many salads and dishes. Mature seeds, when dried, can be ground and used as a pepper substitute for seasoning. Add the flowers to dips, pesto, spreads and cream cheese for added flavour and visual appeal.

Secondly, quite a bit of scientific research has shown that the plant has a natural antibiotic action that is fast-working in the body. Apparently the antibiotic agent, tromalyt, has been found in the urine within one hour of digesting the herb. Noteworthy, too, is that this antibiotic does not interfere with your intestinal flora, and it has been found to be effective against some microorganisms that have built up resistance to common antibiotic drugs. I like to chew on a few leaves each day while I'm watering the garden. Nasturtiums are high in vitamin C, iron and other minerals, and also have powerful antimicrobial and antioxidant qualities.

Thirdly, nasturtiums are good companion plants. They excrete a strong pungent essence into the air and soil, which has been found to deter aphids, white fly and root pests; and the essence secreted into the soil is also absorbed by other plants, helping them to resist attack by pests and disease. I've read that its good to plant nasturtiums between cabbages, broccoli, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, potatoes, and around fruit trees. Some home gardeners make an aphid spray from nasturtium leaves by infusing in boiling water, cooling, straining, with a little liquid soap added.
Although I have my nasturtiums in a hanging basket, they are a vigorous ground sprawler and have taken only four weeks to start flowering from seedlings.

But the best thing about having nasturtiums on my balcony is that the beautiful varigated leaves and bright flowers make me feel happy!


  1. I can't remember a time my Mum didn't have these growing, but I had no idea they had so many *bonuses*! I must start using them more often, I'd love to see a few recipes using these please Indira:)

  2. We bought nasturtium seeds a couple of months ago to plant under our orange tree and to have near our worm farm as a means of detering pests... you've just inspired me to get out there and plant them this evening when it cools down.

  3. Hi Coby,
    I too grew up with them but had no idea they were edible. I'm scouring the net and old cookbooks for some salad recipes so I'll post something when I find a good one. Indira

    Hi Sally,
    Nasturtiums under an orange tree.... I'm imagining those glorious scents and colours now.... Indira