“Nice weed that nasturtium plant!” The amount of times I’ve passed someone’s garden and mumbled those words under my breath is nobody’s business.
It never failed to catch my eye with those bright almost neon coloured flowers and the speed the sprawling stems would cover the ground. Yet, I would shy away from asking the owner of the garden to pull some up for me.
Now I am growing my own with a passion after learning of the health, cosmetic and culinary benefits of this humble but brazen herb.
The only part of this plant you need throw away are the roots. Everything else, leaves, flowers, stems and seeds are either eaten, rubbed, swallowed or used for decoration.
I’ll let you into a secret! They reckon this plant makes a good hair lotion for men! No Kiddin!
Sorry Winston! Too late! They say it helps prevent baldness not cure it!
So how do you go about growing it?
First make sure you are sowing the right cultivar. The generic name for this herb is Tropaeolum. There is also a water cress Nasturtium, so double check your seed packet for Tropaeolum Majus. A picture of the brightly coloured red, yellow, and orange flowers and shield shaped leaves are a big giveaway.
The Nasturtium plant is a semi-hardy annual and will easily self-seed. It doesn’t need much looking after or any special care to soil. In fact, it does well in poor soil so you’re on a winner.
Do follow the packet instructions for your particular climate. In the U.K., sow March to mid April indoors. Mid April to June outdoors. The flowers should show from June to September.
Indoors: 1. Cover seeds over with 1cm of compost in a seed tray half filled with wet compost. Keep them in a light location in a warm room 15 to 20 centigrade (60 -70 Fahrenheit), but not in direct sunlight. 2.Transfer seeds when large enough into individual small pots. 3. Expose young plants to outdoor conditions gradually from 2 to 3 weeks before planting 35cm apart in their sunny positions.
Outdoors: 1. Sow seeds in well watered ground about 2cm deep mid spring or after the last frost. 2. Keep the soil well watered until seedlings sprout. 3. Thin out seedlings to 25cm apart and remember to water in dry spells in the morning before the sun gets hot.
My nasturtium plant was raised from seed mid February and indoors in a water nursery. Why February? Well in the U.K. these days spring and summer seem to be muddled up together, so I reckon I will get early flowers around May or June, but then again, I could be wrong! (see caption on flower photo above for an update) The rest of the seeds will be planted the conventional way, straight into potting compost following the packet’s instructions.
While sowing it my way, I carried out a little test to see the better of the two following methods was. One seed was soaked overnight (which is sometimes recommended because the seed coat is hard), while the other was placed directly with radicle (where the roots grow out) pointing downwards in water and covered over without soaking. Interestingly, the un-soaked sprouted very quickly in a matter of a few days. The soaked one failed to sprout at all.
Before planting I had to ease the seed coat off the first leaves, which happens a lot when spouting seeds in water. Carefully the seedling was transferred into well watered potting compost and covered over with one of my little tent protectors.
During the next few days the compost was still damp so my baby didn’t need any watering. As you can see in just 4 weeks from planting the seed it had grown 6cm tall and looking good and healthy. The protector was removed and the compost covered with gravel to ward off any menacing fungus gnats that might take a fancy to it.
So now roll on summer! Can’t wait to garnish my salads with it. It’s got me wondering too. Would any of my male colleagues be interested in a hair tonic?
Here are simple instructions for our young participants taking part in the Grow A Herb Today Activity. This is how to grow Nasturtium.
Hint of Herbs is where you will get to know me a whole lot better as I busy about in my daily life. Read short snippets of herb garden related topics. Little interesting things that don`t normally find their way onto my pages.
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