One of the most versatile flowers to grow in your garden is the Nasturtium for a few simple reasons: Everything is edible, pollinators love them and it attracts black fly and aphids keeping them away from your veggies.
Tropaeolum, common name Nasturtium, was named so because the plant produces an oil similar to watercress (Nasturtium officinale). The flowers come in a raft of colours ranging from creams and yellows to orange to scarlet. They thrive in poor soil and dry conditions so this summer was a good year for Nasturtiums. There are bush varieties and scrambling ones that spread out and can tangle themselves around other plants, so bear that in mind if your space is limited.
Nasturtiums are perfect companion plants for your vegetables for two main reasons – they attract lots of pollinators and can be grown for sacrificial purposes if you have an aphid or black fly problem.
The petals liven up any salad with their bright colours and the leaves add a nice peppery taste. The leaves can also be used to make a lovely garden pesto. This year however I was focusing on their seed pods to make the poor man’s capers. True capers come from the caper plant but the nasturtium seed pods make a delicious substitute that anyone can grow.
Recipe for Nasturtium ‘Poor Man’s’ Capers
This is what you need:
100 g nasturtium seed pods (still firm and green)
15 g salt
200 ml white wine vinegar
A few peppercorns and herbs such as dill or bay leaves
This is how you do it:
Dissolve the salt in 300 ml of water and place the nasturtium seed pods into a bowl and add the salty water. Leave for 24 hours.
Drain the seedpods and dry well. Pack into small sterilised jars with the peppercorns and herbs of your choice. Leave room for 1 cm of vinegar on top.
Cover the pods with the vinegar and seal the jars with vinegar proof lids. Store in a cool, dark place and leave for a few weeks before eating.
Use within a year.