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Nasturtium, Tropaeolum Majus or Minus

Nasturtium is another easy to find edible. What I love about Nasturtiums is that most home gardens have them growing as a companion plant for veges, so they are very easy to forage. What's more the whole plant is edible, the flavor is amazing, & they're also good for you!

Yes that's right nasturtium is full of Vitamin C, so much that it was used to prevent scurvy back in the day. Nasturtium also contains a natural antibiotic as well as antimicrobial properties, and it's said that if you eat 3 leaves a day you can cure a cold (although to be honest it's never worked that quickly for me!).

Either way, the Vitamin C content is sure to support your body to combat illness. The mustard oil glycoside in nasturtiums has medicinal actions. It's known for it's decongestant effect, relieving clogged noses, congest lungs, and stuffy sinuses. The glycosides also help the liver to process alcohol and fatty foods.

I like to include Nasturtium in my diet by adding the fresh leaves to salads. Choose the youngest leaves you can find as the older they get the more chewy, tougher & bitter they get. Finely slice into salads, or blend into your salad dressings or pesto for a mouth blasting, pungent, mustard like flavor. I often combine Nasturtium leaves with blander tasting weeds such as Plantain or Chickweed in a salad dressing or pesto to spice up the flavor.

The capers can be pickled, and are known as 'poor man's capers'. Once pickled the capers have an amazing flavor. I'll be sharing the recipe again this summer once in season.

The flowers make a colorful garnish. I use just the petals sprinkled in salads or on cakes.

You'll usually find bright orange nasturtiums, but there are also yellow through to burgundy colored varieties. Nasturtiums self seed really easily, if you find some in the wild you can collect the pods and sprinkle them in your garden to self seed. In theory they die back in winter, but here in Kapiti mine survive all through winter. Nasturtium derives it's name from the Greek word meaning "to twine", I have a plant that for 5 years now has been climbing 5m high up a cherry tree, providing a splash of color all through winter