If you’ve read my books or attended my presentations, you’ve probably heard this one by now. This method of storing freshly harvested, edible blossoms over the short term is a miracle worker and has completely altered my ability to keep and use them more effectively.
When I began this project, I set a parameter that allowed me to repeat a specific plant as long as a different stage in its development through the changing seasons was depicted. For example, I have included Columbine meadow rue (Thalictrum aquilegiifolium) twice: early in the season when it was in bloom and in August once the seeds had matured.
As the weeks pass with this project I have found it harder and harder to recall which plants and parts I have already photographed. When I get a chance I will sit down and put together a master list, but until then I find that each week, before I begin to assemble a box, I need to go through all of the images I have taken so far and re familiarize myself with what has and hasn’t been covered.
This system worked until the week of October 5, when I discovered that I had accidentally repeated ‘Vanilla Ice’ Sunflower, a plant that first appeared on September 21. Oh well, mistakes happen. At least I presented it differently the second time around.
I was on Martha Stewart Radio today to talk about my new book about growing herbs and edible flowers. The question was asked, “What is your favourite edible flower?” and I replied, without hesitation, “Nasturtiums, hands down.”
Of course, now as I am typing this, I am hesitating, “But wait… what about roses? You really like roses. Don’t forget violas! You lose your mind over them in the springtime. Scented geraniums… you can’t live without them.” And so on…
No, really. I often choose nasturtium when asked this question and I think it comes down to the unexpected. Most people expect edible flowers to taste kind of sweet, floral, and a little bit weird, which is how many flowers smell. When I hold out a nasturtium, which does not have a particularly strong smell, and ask a friend to eat it, no one ever anticipates that their tongue will be met with a burst of sweetness and a spicy, radish-like kick.
Nasturtiums are fun, perhaps more-so than other flowers.
One of my goals for the 2011 growing season is to try expanding into other species of the nasturtium genus (Tropaeolum). My love of the well known and edible Tropaeolum majus is well documented on this site, and elsewhere, but I have never tried to grow, nor have I even seen any of the other species in person.
I’ve been wondering why the others are not popular in my part of the world, and have concluded that it must be down to climate and their difficulty to grow here. Like its cousins, the typical garden nasturtium will not survive the winter in my zone (around 5-6 depending); however, it is easy enough to start from seed each summer. Some will even self-seed and come back on their own the following year.
The two species I have decided to try, T. speciosum (aka Flame Flower) and T. peregrinum (aka Canary Creeper) are also not hardy, but what’s worse is that they are more difficult to start from seed. In fact, I am quickly discovering that T. speciosum is downright near impossible to germinate and can take up to a year or longer to budge! The stories I am hearing are not hopeful. I have a feeling this will be a test of wills, requiring every ounce of patience I have managed to cultivate as a gardener. T. peregrinum appears to be the easier nut to crack. Germination rates are listed at around 20-30 days.
Either way, I’d better get on starting them sooner rather than later. I’m not sure I am up for the Flame Flower Challenge, but Canary Creeper’s kung fu seems beatable. If neither work,I can always depend on good ole T. majus to make an appearance sometime in June. I’m thinking about trying a variegated variety with salmon/peach flowers called ‘Saucy Rascal’ and ‘Empress of India’ is a compact variety that I always grow in pots, no matter what.
UPDATE: T. peregrinum (aka Canary Creeper) took less than a week to germinate. All of the seeds I started germinated and the plants are now taking over my seed starting station. I had to cut them back! Meanwhile, T. speciosum continues to do nothing.
Today’s photo was taken in mt friend Barry’s backyard.
One of my favourite features in his garden this summer are the ‘Mahogany’ nasturtiums that have been going gangbusters since June (right side). Their deep red blooms look so good against all of the chartreuse foliage in that corner.