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Lunch With Friends

IMG_0322I ate some old friends for lunch today.

It’s the only way to get rid of them. They keep coming back like relatives you miss until they come and stay for months, or the chatty kind of people you try to evade at parties but just can’t. Everywhere you turn, there they are, all bright, happy, and softhearted — the kind you just can’t say no to — and they know it.

I’m talking about nasturtiums. I planted a few one year – I don’t know when. It doesn’t matter. If you say yes to a packet of nasturtium seeds, you will be living with the results for the rest of your life and beyond. The generations springing from that one packet will thrive long after you’re gone.

The term ‘invasive’ does not begin to describe the goings on among the nasturtiums in my backyard. These guys have no respect for boundaries, they sprout, climb, spill over the retaining wall, and completely smother the diedes I planted to add a little structure, a little class to the place.


Nasturtiums thrive on neglect which is, as it happens, is the cornerstone of my gardening strategy. Then, just when they’re really getting out of hand, they do something charming, like blossom. First a yellow one, then an orange, sometimes a red. They hide among the leaves and then peek out like flirts until one morning you wake up and the whole tangle is ablaze. It’s kind of like a slow-motion floral fireworks display that marks the coming and going of spring here in California. Plus, they hide the weeds.

How can you hate that?

I don’t really. I’m just not comfortable with what they tell visitors about my gardening habits. Clearly the nasturtiums are in control of the landscape, not me. But I tell people I planted them for food. Each blossom harbors a sweet, juicy burst which somehow goes perfectly with the peppery petals. Harvest happens when I let the dog out or when I feel like making a salad.

So, for a few months every year, I let them have their way. The first leaves sprout in December or January and they just sort of poke along, getting bigger and greener. The blossoms start to appear in March and by the end of April or early May, they explode into color. I eat as many as I can and then yank them out.

They don’t care. They always come back.


I added my friends to a salad of greens, fennel, goat cheese and toasted pignoli nuts. Chop up the stems too – they are delicious!

Lunch with my friends
Lunch with my friends

PS: Turns out there are all kinds of ways to use these babies. Here some of the ones I found. If you try any, let me know how they turned out!









Nasturtium pesto!


Lots of other ways to eat ’em


  1. Hi Betsy. I really like your posts. This post reminds me of golf with Harald, where at the second hole at the course in Washington the 2nd hole was always a time for a snack. Of course the snack was that of nasturtium. I had never eaten there before until Harold introduced me to them. They were very peppery and very good. Fond memories.


    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Very pretty friends you have. Thanks for posting this reminder that flowers are not merely figments of my imagination. Here on the opposite coast where it will be 33 degrees at 5 am, the wind is howling and my deck door rattles. The only thing that even remotely looks like a possible bloom is a minute pink dot at the tip of a Christmas cactus frond. Lovely blog…full of sunshine.

  3. I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten a flower before. I know there’s tons that you can and I’ve had dandelion wine…just never thought to try my hand at cooking with blooms.

    1. I know! It’s always a surprise to find out what flowers are edible. I like the idea of food that is beautiful and functional. If I come across some links to help you find other edible blooms, I’ll pass them on. Thanks for posting!

  4. Hi! Thanks so much for your post and recipe links! My Nasturtiums are currently frying in this heat wave (as am I!!), so thought I’d further their ‘cooking’ and try a recipe before they are gone. Had some potatoes from the garden, and the other ingredients around, so made the soup. It was light, delicious and perfectly simple! The color after blending it was so pretty, especially against the flower garnish. As mentioned, it is very hot outside, and soup is kind of an odd choice, I suppose, so I opted to not reheat after the blending and the warmish/cool result was just right! Loved how glossy the finished product was, too. Excellent texture. Served it up with some bread and some freshly brewed mint iced tea. Thanks again for the recipe and for the enjoyable glimpse into your nasturtium garden!!

    1. How fun to hear about the soup. I didn’t try it and now, of course, all of ours are gone but I noticed a patch growing “wild” not far from here and maybe I will try making the soup now too. I like soup any time of year and you are right, when you have the option of serving it cool or “warm” then it makes even more sense. Glad you liked it. I’ve got some ice cream recipes coming up for next month.

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