The nasturtiums are leafing out nicely. No flowers as of yet, but enough foliage to let me harvest a few leaves for a taste. Whooo-wee! Does that clear the nostrils! The nasturtium entry in Alan Davidson's essential Oxford Companion to Food remarks that the taste is similar to watercress, which is all well and good, yet he goes on to caution that the leaves should be used sparingly. That should have raised alarm bells prior to tasting these leaves.
Davidson also reports that the name means 'twisted nose' in Latin -- and no wonder! This is pungent stuff -- closer to horseradish and wasabi than arugula or watercress. I could maybe see myself tucking a few leaves into a roast beef sandwich, or rolling up some slivers in homemade sushi for a wasabi-like kick. But these zingers aren't going into my green salads -- the tender garden lettuces would be overwhelmed. I look forward to the blossoms to see if they are more or less pungent than their leafy predecessors.
On a horticultural note, the nasturtiums remained virtually untouched by pests, until a few nights ago when these little holes appeared in several leaves. I don't actually see any bugs, just their wake of (minimal) destruction. Any ideas? flea beetles, perhaps?