Nasturtium deters a number of pests in the vegetable garden.
The Nasturtium deters garden pests.
Nasturtium is a genus of annual and perennial herbaceous flowers with over 80 known species. Its name literally means “nose tweaker.” They are useful in the companion garden for deterring, and sometimes trapping garden pests like aphids. They repel squash bugs, cucumber beetles and several types of caterpillars. They are also known to repel aphids and ants, and are particularly helpful if the vine is allowed to climb up the trunk of apple and pear trees. They also repel whiteflies and striped pumpkin beetles. It is good for use with vine crops, such as peas and will help keep flea beetles away from mint and oregano.
In addition to the many benefits it brings to the garden, every part of the plant is edible. The flower has a slightly peppery flavor similar to watercress. It is often used in salads or as garnishes. The unripened seed pods can be harvested, pickled and used in place of capers, although they have a strong pepper taste. The mashua nasturtium produces an edible root that is an important food source in the Andes.
There are two types of Nasturtium. One is a compact plant that grows 6 to 10 inches tall. The other is a vine that grows to about 15 inches. Both are beneficial in the garden.
How to Grow Nasturtium
Nasturtium is a fast growing annual that can be sown directly in the garden after the last frost. They can tolerate poor soils and dry conditions; the drier the soil, the better. Ignore them in the garden and they will still do their job.
- Select a sunny location. They prefer full sun but can tolerate partial shade.
- Plant seeds ½ inch deep, 10 to 12 inches apart.
- Do not over water. Allow the soil to dry out. When watering, lightly water the soil around the base of the plant. Do not water the leaves or the flowers.
- Harvest the leaves for salads and stir fry dishes as soon as there are several leaves on the plant. The younger leaves will have a better flavor. Older leaves tend to be bitter. The flowers can also be harvested, but do not have as much flavor as the leaves.
Published in: Gardening