By: Loretta Sebastiani

Cooking Basic ingredients of Italian cuisine Nasturtiums


Nasturtiums: description, how to grow them, use in organic garden, cooking ...

nasturtiums in organic garden
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nasturtiums in organic garden zoom »

The nasturtium description

The nasturtiums are annual herbaceous flowering plants, often with a round bush (T. majus).
They have showy flowers with 5 petals (sometimes more), often with a brigh light and a lot of different shades from yellow to orange and red.
They have rounded and peltate (shield-shaped) leaves with the petiole in the center.

The nasturtium origin

The nasturtium is native to Central and South America. From here it was then brought to Europe during the era of the Spanish conquests.

The nasturtium cultivation

The nasturtium is frost sensitive, so if you want an early flowering, it is necessary to cultivate the seedlings warm.
Otherwise it must be sowed in the ground from mid-May. So you would see the first flowers after the beginning of July.
The soil should be rich in humus but not too fertilized. Experience shows that in this case the plants would develop more leaves at the expense of flowers.
Below the instructions to sow the nasturtiums in the flower beds. The nasturtium seeds are quite large.

  • - distance between the rows: 20cm (8in)
  • - depth: 2cm (0.8in)
  • - distance from each other: 10cm (4in)

The location? in full sun or in light shade.
The nasturtiums need regular watering but not abundant. They tolerate even short periods of drought.
You can choose between the dwarf varieties (that form a bush), suitable for use as edging for flower beds and climbing varieties. In reality, the climbing nasturtiums are not real because they are not provided with tendrils.
The nasturtium or tropaeolum should never be lacking in an organic garden.

Harvesting and use

You can eat flowers, buds, leaves and seeds of these showy plants calld nasturtiums.
Their leaves and flowers reminiscent of watercress and are slightly spicy. They are excellent in salads and in many recipes. They flavor soft cheeses too.
Their unripe seeds and buds can be pickled in vinegar like capers but their taste is less intense than capers.

Recommendations for organic farming and intercropping for nasturtium

The nasturtium keeps away aphids if planted under fruit trees.
It also acts against slugs, ants and mice.
It repels cucurbit pests, squash bugs, cucumber beetles and various caterpillars.
I has a similar action for brassica plants such as cauliflower and broccoli.
It may also attract beneficial predatory insects.
In few lines why you can not miss the nasturtiums in your organic garden.

Nasturtium utritional properties

It is impossible to speak about nutritiom nutrients for the small amount in use.
But there is something curious to tell in any case.
Their distinctive flavor derives from a sulphide principle. Principle with expectorant properties, useful in pulmonary emphysema. Thus, the nasturtium is useful as an expectorant for every type of cough: wet, productive cough and dry cough.
It's an intestinal bactericide.
It can have a positive effect if it is necessary to stimulate diuresis. For example, in the case of bloating, swelling of the legs, cellulite ...
It stimulates the appetite.
The main virtue is its high content of vitamin C (300mg).

How to use nasturtium in cooking

  • - Pick up flowers and leaves and add to summer salads.
  • - Flavor your risotto or soup recipes.
  • - Add the nasturtiums to zucchini in your recipe. Read our exclusive recipe of pasta with zucchini and nasturtiums to learn how to use nasturtium flowers.
  • - Use the nasturtium flowers to garnish your summer dishes.
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