Balsam

(Impatiens Balsamina) You may recall the beautiful balsam as an old-timey Victorian flower, but did you know that it is also edible? An annual flower that thrives in heat and prefers a full sun location, balsam will also perform well in partial shade. It thrives in summer heat and usually blooms until frost. Seeds can be direct sown in long-season areas, although most gardeners will want to sow seeds indoors about 6 weeks before last frost. Sow them in seed-starting medium, ¼ inch deep. Seeds germinate in about 10-15 days. Ideal germination temperature is 75-80F. Set plants into the garden after last frost, in full sun and well-drained, reasonably rich soil, spacing them 1-2 feet apart. This frost-tender herb is also known as 'Touch-Me-Not' due to the ripened seed pod's tendency to burst at even the slightest touch, so be ready to collect the seeds just before they scatter. The young greens make a delicious, slightly mustard-y cooked green that is great in curries. The greens are loaded with nutrition, including being a rich source of vitamin C, and providing about the same amount of calcium as whole milk.

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