Friday, August 10, 2007

Firepower!

Ok, confession here: we got our Nasturtiums in a bit late this year and the ones that came up haven't started blooming yet, but this one from 5 August 2006 still is. So, I decided to pluck it from the archives to provide a little mid-summer firepower for the end of the week.

If you've never grown Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus), they're really worth trying because they're fairly easy to grow and when they start blooming they keep on going until frost. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again -- they make fantastic additions to salads where they provide a nice peppery contrast to the greens. And all parts of the plant (unlike Daturas and Castors!) are perfectly edible. The leaves should be used when they're smaller and more tender, however the peppery flavor in them is more pronounced than in the flowers. I even discovered tonight (see the Wikipedia link) that the unripe seeds can be used as a caper substitute. I'd like to try that, but wonder if one should soak them in some kind of brine solution first ... something to check into.

All you really need to provide Nasturtiums is some average to poorish soil in a full sun position (they will tolerate some shade), adequate water and some space, because they will spread out quite a bit by the end of the season. Just plant the pea-like seeds early on (our big mistake this year!) in mid May or when weather conditions permit in your area. (FAR, you could plant these really early where you are, say April or even late March.) The two only really important facts you need to know are that 1) they do not like being transplanted, so sow them where they are to grow and 2) NEVER EVER fertilize them! Like Morning Glories, if you fertilize them you will be rewarded with rich, huge foliage and few, if any, blooms. So don't even go near them with the Miracle Grow! One other note: they make an excellent companion plant to many flowers, and especially certain vegetables. Nasturtiums are known to provide protection for such plants as the Cucurbita family (Cucumbers and squash) to the Brassicas (cabbages, broccoli and Brussels sprouts) by either luring the bad bugs away from the plants or attracting said bugs' predators to the area. And they make a lovely fiery border around the vegetable bed ... again, just keep them away from the fertilizers!

This year we planted Nasturtiums among the rocks to let them crawl around and out (hopefully), so when we've got some blooms later on, I'll probably be posting more of them as they arrive. Oh yeah, the reason I liked this shot so much was because I managed to get the sun shining through the flower, which really illuminates its details, I think. Though Nasturtiums come in a wide range of colours and hybrids, I still prefer the old fashioned orange, yellow and red ones. These were Burpee's Fordhook Favorites, a supposedly climbing variety though we've never had them actually climb ... they just meander around and fill the empty spaces of the bed where they're planted. But wherever you might decide to plant them, they'll bring you lots of summer colour and tasty treats as well if they suit your palate. They're just an old-fashioned, easy annual that really doesn't ask much of you for what they give in return!

8 comments:

Nancy P said...

Pretty photo! Nasturtiums are such an adorable plant. I just love 'em, but I've never planted them because I've never seen them do well--by which I mean bloom for long--around here. Which is strange, since they do well up your way.

You may have solved the mystery of why my neighbor's morning glories won't bloom. I wonder if she knows not to fertilize them. I knew that about nasties, but not about glories.

olivia said...

I was listening to a gardening show the other day, and a woman called in to ask why her flowers weren't blooming -- too much fertilizer was the cause, and I thought you IVG, and how you'd get a chuckle.

Love flowers that meander around and fill empty spaces, especially nice bright orange ones.

olivia said...

thought OF you ...

Family Man said...

Morning IVG, Nancy and Olivia.

Very nice picture IVG. I like the yellow background on the flower.

I guess I'm safe on the fertilizing, because I never fertilize any of the plants and yard. With my luck though, they just keep growing. :)

Hope you and everyone have a good day.

Kidspeak said...

I love nasturtiums - your pics are beautiful.

Last time I planted them, our neighbor "helped" us by applying her "bloombuster" recipe when we were on vacation. So we had that lush leaves effect, and almost no flowers. Our leaves were that spotted variety (name fails me), and they looked pretty good just as foliage, but what a loss!

I didn't get any planted this year before the heat was upon us, so I'll see how the "old" seeds do next year.

boran2 said...

Thanks, IVG. I've long loved nasturtiums. And I've finally been able to leave a comment here, something that I usually can't do. Woohoo!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Howdy folks, sorry to be late in getting back to the comments, but intentional or not, I've taken a weekend break from the blog duties. Will be trying to keep up the pace, but another über busy work week is almost upon on me, so we'll see!

Glad you liked this shot ... I just love my fire ranges of colour so I try to get them to glow if I can and was happy with this one.

About the fertilizer, I try to pass that tip on as much as I can preach it without people pelting me with blunt objects, but it's a valuable thing to know when you're dealing with certain flowers. I'm glad that was of use, Nancy. Add Cosmos to the never fertilize list too ...

KS, I would be furious w/that neighbor, but what are you gonna do? Good intentions gone awry (and we all know that when you pave the road with good intentions where you end up!) LOL

Sorry you have had troubles w/comments B2 ... others have mentioned that and I still don't understand what the problem is, but glad to see you stopping by! Always great to have another "nasty" fan (I stole it from Nancy!) in the house!

Nancy P said...

Cosmos, too?! I had no idea! Thanks, IVG.