Nasturtium, which translates literally to “nose-twister,” is the common name of a popular ornamental garden plant with intense flower colors and round lily pad-like leaves. I don’t find the flower or plant smell to be unpleasant at all. Besides being an attractive ornamental garden plant all parts of the plant are edible and supposedly repellent to a few garden pests.
The flowers can be used as a garnish in salads, soups, sandwiches or pressed into soft cheeses. The young leaves are also edible and can add a peppery tastes to salads or just used as a garnish on plates
In my garden I like to plant them along pathways where the mounds spill over and soften the edges of the concrete, but they look just as nice in containers and window boxes. For me they do great in poor soil and will bloom all summer long and into the first freeze without being fertilized once. This is a great plant to grow if you garden with kids as the seeds are large enough for them to plant in the garden
and since the flowers & leaves are edible there is no danger to kids who touch or will eat them.
Nasturtiums are said to be repellent to garden pests like the squash bugs and cucumber beetles and good as a sacrificial crop. I’m not so sure how well they work repelling cucumber beetles because I find them in my garden. I allow plenty of weeds to grow that pests, like aphids, will attack before they attack my nasturtiums and other plants, so I can’t attest to how great they are as a sacrificial crop. And I have the added defense of using ladybugs
in my garden as a method of natural pest control.
The unripe nasturtium seeds are also edible when pickled with hot vinegar to create what is affectionately referred to as the “poor man’s capers.”
When visiting garden centers in Chicago
I don’t often see this annual for sale, which is mind boggling to me; but you can easily find seeds even in drug stores that carry garden supplies. When buying seeds for your urban farm skip the fancy cultivars go with the ones labeled “Jewel Mix,” because they often cost less and you get more seeds.