Nasturtiums were new to my garden this year, and I have to say, I loved them. Their disc-shaped leaves, and the vibrant flowers in pops of red, orange and yellow, really helped to brighten the patio. I bought a couple packets of seeds, a jewel-mix and peach melba, and put them in several pots around the patio. I loved the way the flowers would bloom on thin stems above the foliage.
When fall hit, the seed production hit full swing and I collected almost 30 seeds to dry and plant next year. Nasturtium leaves taste peppery, and add kick to any salad. I cut them up in to ribbons, and mixed them in to a chef salad. I didn't try the flowers, but I hear they are a great, colorful addition to a meal.
Nasturtiums are easy annuals. They grow quickly, and require subtle care. Plant them after the last frost in the spring in moist, and well-draining soil. They work really well in pots, or in the ground. They don't require fancy soil, and actually bloom better in poor soil. You can neglect them a little, too, without any issues. Water regularly, but not too regularly. They love sun or partial shade, but bloom more in sun.
Nasturtium seeds have a hard shell on them. Soak the seeds for 12-24 hours prior to planting. You can also nick the seed coating to ensure better germination. Plant the seeds about half an inch deep, and about 6-10 inches apart. Seeds will sprout within 7-10 days. They grow a lot of leaves and will fill in the gaps between. To encourage more blooms, deadhead the plants.
Nasturtiums are great to plant near your vegetable plants because they attract aphids, whiteflies, slugs, and other pests to them. This keeps them off your main vegetables, and acts as an all-natural pest deterrent.
In the fall when the seeds appear, you can either wait for them to fall off, and collect them, or once they come off easily, you can pull them off the stem. Let them dry out in a cool dark place before storing them in a seed envelope.