Nasturtium, Latin name Tropaeolum majus
Originally from South America, these plants were introduced into Europe by the Spanish in the 1500’s.
I love growing these pretty, prolific flowering plants. They are easy to grow and actually flourish best by being left to their own devices, in poorer soil, if they are in a well fertilised area they tend to not to flower! With the choice of bush, climbing, trailing and creeping varieties, they can be grown in window boxes, containers, hanging baskets or garden. The plants do not transplant well, so it is best to sow the seeds directly where you want them.
Due to their ability to attract aphids, they can be useful planted in vegetable patches so that your veggies are kept relatively free.
Both the leaves and the flowers of nasturtiums are edible, the leaves especially having a peppery taste similar to watercress, the older the leaf the spicier the flavour. The leaves are high in vitamin C and are anti-bacterial and are currently being researched for their anti-tumour properties. Tea made from the leaves is a folklore treatment to prevent colds and flu.
Another folk use is grinding the leaves in water, then straining to make an all-natural disinfectant wash for minor cuts and scrapes.
Here are some ideas for using nasturtiums in recipes:
The leaves and /or flowers can be added to salads, in place of watercress or rocket;
Leaves can be stuffed with tuna or chicken salad, then rolled up as a first course or a snack, or stuff and bake them like grape leaves;
Use in risottos, soups, juices, casseroles, pesto and rice dishes;
Stir fried, wilted with other greens;
Chop or slice leaves into small pieces and use in place green onions or garlic;
Grind or mince the chopped leaves with salt, chillies and garlic until they form a paste. Use to flavour stir fries, stews or soups.
Planet – Sun
Deity – God Belenos, Goddess Sulis
Element – Fire
Can be used magically for health, healing, protection, endurance, success, happiness, over-coming difficulties, determination.