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The easy-sprout, easy-bloom annual whose leaves you can eat.

Summer color is easy with nasturtiums. These flower factories (Tropaeolum majus) sprout readily and provide reliable color from six weeks after sowing until frost. And you now have more choices than ever--from compact varieties excellent for containers or borders to long, vining kinds perfect for slopes or trellises.

Leaves, unripe seed pods, and blooms have a peppery flavor similar to watercress, and can be used in salads. (Be sure to wash off any insects and don't use snail bait or insecticides.)

The lightly scented blossoms are attractive in casual bouquets. Colors include cream, yellow, gold, orange, mahogany, and red. In seed packets, you can get those six colors mixed or separately. As bedding plants, nurseries offer only the Jewel and Gleam series in mixed colors.

In frost-free areas, nasturtiums stay leafy and green the year around. Elsewhere, treat them as annuals. Sow in spring, after danger of frost is past, but before summer heat arrives. Gardeners in low and intermediate desert regions should sow in fall for winter and early spring bloom. Dwarf and midsize nasturtiums

Popular dwarf varieties that stay about 1 foot tall include the Jewel series, with double blooms; Dwarf Single, with single blooms; and the Whirlybird series, with double blooms that lack the "spur" of traditional nasturtiums.

The Gleam series boasts double blooms on plants that are semitrailing, to 2 to 3 feet. Tall climbers

Old-fashioned nasturtiums are vigorous trailing or climbing kinds that reach 5 to 6 feet. They are charming spilling down a slope or trained up a trellis. Widely sold strains include Fordhook Favorites and Tall Single Mixed.

To grow nasturtiums upright, you need to provide a trellis or strings that they can twine around. Since they have no grasping tendrils, you may have to tie stems for further support. Care

In most areas, nasturtiums do best with light shade. They prefer full sun where summers are cool or foggy. Blooming slows down in hottest summer months, but plants quickly bounce back once the heat lessens.

Sow seeds about 1/2 to 1 inch deep in the garden, or in containers or hanging baskets. Keep soil moist until seeds emerge. Thin to 12 to 18 inches apart (half that distance in containers).

Once established, nasturtiums do best with only moderate watering (but don't let them wilt). Remove spent blooms to prolong flowering.

If frost nips plants at the end of the season, remove them. Nasturtiums selfsow freely, so you may be rewarded with new plants next spring if you've allowed some blooms to set seed.
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Title Annotation:nasturtiums
Date:Apr 1, 1985
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