day 145 – Nasturtium

Both the leaves and flowers of this plant are beneficial and edible.

Ayurvedic experts instruct you to roll a leaf around your index finger and massage your gums and teeth in small circular motions.  Your teeth will feel clean and your gums will gently tingle.

It has been used for centuries in Peru as a remedy for coughs, colds and the flu.  Make a tea from bruised fresh leaves by adding one tablespoon to a cup of hot water and let it steep for ten minutes.

After pirates brought the herb to England in the 16th century, herbalists called it “Indian cress” and used it to treat scurvy and digestive problems.

Fresh leaves contain a natural antibiotic that is effective with respiratory ailments.  Herbalists recommend eating three fresh leaves three times a day.  Or make the tea that dates back to Peru before the New World was discovered and drink three times/day.

I enjoy the leaves and flowers, chopped up in salads or sprinkled on soups or sautéed veggies before serving.  It’s a stunning and peppery garnish.  You can use it like watercress so if a dish calls for it, just substitute.

Nasturtiums demand lots of sun and do well in poor soil.  Perfect for those dead zones in your garden.  They trail, spread and cascade beautifully too.  They hate, hate, hate to be transplanted.  Always buy the seed and just stick the seed under the dirt with your finger.  Easy Peasy.

After awhile (like late summer), they become diseased with mildew, black spots or aphids.  I just yank them out and the following year they come back due to allowing flowers to reseed.

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