From my garden: Brilliant-colored Nasturtiums are easy to grow
Published - 05/18/17 - 04:19 PM | 2332 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Besides bright orange, nasturtiums also come in a variety of colors. / PHOTO BY LINDA MARRONE
Besides bright orange, nasturtiums also come in a variety of colors. / PHOTO BY LINDA MARRONE
The other day, I was heading toward Highway 52 and noticed the verdant patchwork of colors growing on the hillsides. All the rain we had this past winter created a lush display of varying shades of green intermixed with brilliant orange and yellow cascading masses nasturtium flowers.

I've had nasturtiums growing in my garden for years, and they continually reseed themselves and come back in abundance each year in the early spring. The nasturtium plant is essentially a flowering vine and it loves to ramble through my flower gardens. As the flowers die, a large round seed pod forms that will fall into the garden and create more flowers the following year.  Once you plant nasturtiums, they will be in your garden forever.

While shades of bright orange and yellow are the most common colors, nasturtiums also come in a variety of other colors and both the flowers and leaves can be variegated.  Other colors include; crimson, creamy white and deep pink. 

Nasturtiums love to grow in poor soil that is well-drained and they do best if you do not fertilize them.  If fertilized too much, you will have an abundance of leaves and few flowers. You can start them from seed in the cooler winter months of January or February, or you can find small plants in six-packs at local nurseries. 

As the plants begin to form their vine, you can pinch back runners to encourage more flower.  From time to time I will deadhead some of the spent flowers to encourage new ones. Once they establish, nasturtiums do not require a lot of care or water.  You may need to bait for slugs and snails since they love to munch on the leaves.

I occasionally pick the flowers to add a colorful peppery bite to salads or I use them to garnish platters.  You can also eat the plant’s leaves, which have a much stronger flavor. 

Nasturtium Salad

1 bag mixed salad greens (I like Trader Joe's Sorrento Mix)

Hand full or more of organic nasturtium flowers stems removed

1 Persian cucumber, sliced thin

1 cup cherry tomatoes in a variety of colors, cut in half

1 tab shallot, minced

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon dry oregano

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

Whisk the shallot, vinegar, and oregano together and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes.  Whisk in the olive oil to make a vinaigrette and season it with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the salad greens, nasturtium flowers, cucumber, and tomatoes together and dress lightly with the vinaigrette.  Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.  Serve immediately.
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