Hobby Farms


- By Samantha Johnson

If your garden could use a little boost of happiness, the ultra-charming nasturtium might be exactly what it needs! If you aren’t already familiar with nasturtium­s: Tropaeolum majus refers to varieties that climb or trail, while Tropaeolum minus refers to bush or dwarf nasturtium­s. Trailing nasturtium­s are gorgeous in window boxes or trained onto trellises in raised beds; dwarf nasturtium­s are content in containers. Nasturtium­s feature lovely trumpet-shaped blossoms in warm shades: reds, yellows, oranges, salmons and pinks — plus some varieties feature blossoms with colorful contrastin­g spots.

You’ll love the leaves, too — rounded edges and a starlike design that radiates outward. Also: Some varieties display variegated leaves, which are purely exquisite.

Why Grow

They’re beautiful. You’ll fall in love with their delicate blossoms and their gorgeous foliage. On dewy mornings, water droplets may collect in the center of the leaves and they look like diamonds in your garden.

Pollinator­s love them. Please plant nasturtium­s, if for no other reason than because pollinator­s go crazy for them. Bees in general (and honeybees, in particular) absolutely love nasturtium­s, and planting them is a great way to attract these beneficial bugs to visit your farm and gardens.

Nasturtium blossoms and leaves are also edible, and the flavor is usually described as “spicy or peppery.” You can add nasturtium­s to salads or soups, but nasturtium­s are also excellent when combined with dairy products such as butter and ice cream. Nasturtium­s make a fantastic pesto, too. If you prefer a special beverage, add nasturtium­s to your tea.

Easy to Grow

You can start seeds indoors and then transplant to the garden after all danger of frost has passed, or you can direct sow. Plant seeds ½-inch deep, and space 6 to 12 inches apart. Full sun is great, but nasturtium­s don’t mind partial shade. They may blossom best in full sun, but don’t hesitate to fill a partially shaded window box; they’ll grow just fine.

Nasturtium­s are annuals in most locations so that makes it easy to shake things up in the garden from year-to-year; don’t worry about trying to choose a permanent location.

Keep in mind that nasturtium­s don’t handle frost. They’re very sensitive and must be protected. Cover your plants if frost looms! Also, if you keep your plants tidy, they’ll keep producing all season.

If you have limited garden space, choose a dwarf/bush variety, and plant it in a container. You’ll love the flexibilit­y of being able to move the nasturtium­s wherever you like (even to protect them from cold weather), and you’ll be surprised at how well your nasturtium­s will flourish in a container.

They’re generous with their seeds. If you choose an open-pollinated variety, you can collect and save the seeds; you’ll be all set for next year’s garden!

 ?? ?? Easy-to-grow, nasturtium­s are warm-season annuals with distinctiv­e leaves and bright flowers. A bonus is that pollinator­s go crazy for them.
Easy-to-grow, nasturtium­s are warm-season annuals with distinctiv­e leaves and bright flowers. A bonus is that pollinator­s go crazy for them.

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