N is for nasturtiums or Trapaeolum.
Nasturtiums are a beautiful annual plant that grow well in large containers or right in the garden. The flowers and young leaves are edible as long as you haven’t used any sort of pesticide on them. The plant is related to mustard and cress hence the tangy taste.
They also act like insect repellent and are wonderful companion plants, deterring white flies, squash bugs, and they are a trap crop for aphids. They also attract beneficial insects and of course hummingbirds.
Believe it or not these plants are growing in a tub from an old washing machine. The small image at the beginning shows the whole tub. I love to think outside the pot for planting.
The plants will get very bushy and produce many, many blooms in a variety of colours. To encourage longer blooming be sure to snip off the spent blooms. But towards the end of the season let the seed head develop so you will have seeds to gather for the next year.
Seeds can be sowed directly outside after the last frost in the spring. Soaking them overnight in some warm water will get them to sprout a bit faster. Cover with 2.5 cm. of earth. They should germinate in 10 to 14 days. Plant them outside after the last frost and they will continue to grow and bloom till the first frost.
Thin the seedlings so they are about 15 cm. apart. If you carefully remove extras using a fork you can transplant them in other places. They do not always transplant when the seedling gets too big, so sow the seeds directly where you want them to grow. You will get mostly foliage if grown in the shade but plant them in the sun and they will bloom and bloom.
Here is the seedpod as it develops on the plant. You have to look under the leaves to find the seed pods. They usually form in twos. Let them dry as long as possible on the plant before picking, but don’t leave them too long else they fall off. Whenever you pick them, be sure to let them sit out on a saucer to thoroughly dry out before packing away.
The blooms come in a variety of colours. These easy to grow plants are one of my favourite annuals. In fact they seem to grow better if you tend to neglect them.
There are different varieties … dwarf, bushy, trailing, and climbing. Planting in sun will encourage more blooms, and if in too much shade you will get mainly leaves.