The species, originally from Central and South America, has taken the hearts of many hobby gardeners by storm. In its homeland, nasturtium is considered a valuable medicinal herb. All parts of the plant are edible and provide a slightly spicy ingredient.
The more shade and nutrients the plant gets, the more leaves it forms. Due to the large leaf mass, the plant needs a lot of water. When dry, the aroma is less intense.
If the crop is too large, you can dry the foliage in an airy and warm place. It can be processed into pesto. This requires two handfuls of nasturtium and about half as many walnuts. Half a clove of garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil refine the taste.
Yellow, orange, or red flowers appear between July and October, which are also edible. Full sun locations encourage flowering. If you regularly harvest flower stalks or remove faded shoots, you will extend the flowering period. Its aroma is mustard-like and milder than the flavor of the leaves. They are used to decorate salads.
Tips for picking:
- harvest after a rainy day
- pinch off the entire flower with your finger
- shake vigorously as earwigs like to hide in it
- do not wash to preserve pollen
The annual species dies off after one season. With the help of its split fruits, the plant survives in the ground so that it can sprout again next spring. You can preserve the seeds of the nasturtium by pickling them in vinegar, salt, and oil-like capers.
Dried and stored in the dark, the seeds are suitable for storage. They have a shelf life of up to three years and can be resown every year. When ground, they produce a mustard-like spice.
Once the plant has produced fruit, you should no longer eat the leaves. They are woody and less aromatic than young foliage.