Thursday, May 3, 2012

5 Reasons Why You Should Grow Nasturtiums Near Vegetables

 Great Information! SRN

Posted on 10. Jul, 2010 by
 Nasturtiums are a natural method of pest control in your garden and have striking red, yellow and orange flowers in between their large umbrella shaped leaves which provide an attraction in your pots or borders not just for you but for many bugs and pests as well.
Nasturtiums are grown from seed very easily from March to July and flowering all summer until September. They grow in old non fertilized soil (if there’s too much compost you may only get leaves and no flowers) and they take care of themselves once established.


Why should you grow them near to your vegetable plot?


1. They are well known for attracting aphid infestations

Blackfly on underside of Nasturtium Leaf
Blackfly on underside of Nasturtium Leaf

You may think this is not such a good reason to grow them, however nasturtiums leaves are like a homing beacon of the plant world for aphids (particularly black aphids or blackfly) which means if they are on the nasturtiums, they (hopefully) won’t be attracted to your tomato, pepper, bean, strawberry, cabbage and lettuce plants. Nasturtiums are a diversionary tactic to move aphids away from your prized fruit and vegetables.

My Experience with Nasturtiums and Black Aphids:
This year I have grown nasturtiums in pots on my deck which is approx 5 or 6 feet away from my raised beds. As you can see from the picture, its like aphid world on my nasturtiums as the moment and I’m pleased to say even though initially I did have some blackfly on my french beans, they have now gone and the plants have recovered.


2. Cabbage White Butterflies like their large leaves.

Cabbage White Butterfly
Cabbage White Butterfly

Again not a good reason to grow nasturtiums you would have thought, however they are invaluable for the life of your cabbages.

Not only do Nasturtiums attract butterflies into your garden, they have a powerful magnet attraction to cabbage white butterflies in particular to lay their bright yellow eggs on the underside of the leaves. This is easy to do for them as the surface area of the leaves is large and the leaf is an umbrella shape enabling the butterfly to sit without being disturbed.
If the butterflies are more interested in the nasturtium leaves, they will be hopefully less interested in your cabbage leaves. See the damage caterpillars can do once hatched on your cabbage leaves, believe me you will try anything to get rid of them.

My Experience with Nasturtiums and Cabbage White Butterflies:
I have seen loads of cabbage white butterflies around and siting on my nasturtiums plants. Although my cabbages are covered with a cloche, last year the cabbage white’s still managed to get into to cloche when I was weeding without me noticing when I put it back. This year I’m using the nasturtiums as a diversion and weeding in the evening when no butterflies are around!


3. Slugs go to Nasturtiums like a moth to a light bulb.

Nasturtium Flowers
Nasturtium Flowers

Nasturtiums are just one big pest magnet, I’ve never known a plant like it. They also attract slugs because of their large juicy green leaves. All though by now you may not have any plants left if they have been attacked by caterpillars and aphids.

My Experience with Nasturtiums and Slugs:
None I’m afraid as I didn’t previously know this until researching this post, but now I do know I’ll be sowing nasturtiums next March before the big slug breakout, results will be posted here next year.


4. They protect your vegetables from predatory insects

Blackfly on Leaf
Blackfly on Leaf
Growing Nasturtiums helps the following vegetables from pest attacks:-
  • Brassicas – Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli,
  • Curbits – Cucumbers, melons,
  • Beans – runner, french, climbing,
  • Tomato’s, Peppers,
  • Apple Trees and Strawberries.


5. Nasturtium leaves and flowers are edible.

Nasturtium means ‘nose-twister’ which refers to the bitter peppery taste when eaten.
To recycle the plant, any leaf or flower unaffected by pests can be eaten with salads or added to soups, butter, oils, vinegar etc. See this great link at Squidoo for Cooking With Nasturtiums.

Click on Picture for Video on HOW TO MAKE Nasturtium Butter!

Finally talking of recycling, why not try saving your own Nasturtium Seed for next year’s pest control. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Wait until the flowers have died off, then behind the flower is a cluster of 3 green seeds.
  2. If the seeds are green and attached to the stem still they are too ‘green’ to collect, leave them to dry and fall to the soil,
  3. Look under the leaves on the soil for brown round seeds which look like cherry pips.
  4. Put these dry seeds in a paper bag and save in a cool place until sowing,
  5. Sowing Period is March to July.

1 comment:

  1. Cool! I teach environmental ed at a center where my community garden plot is and I love having a ready source of aphids to show the kids. The nasturtium are doing a great job keeping the aphids off my melons.

    I love the seed saving info! Thanks!


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