There are two types of nasturtium but the one I can never get enough of in our garden is Tropaeolum majus (also known as Indian Cress) not the Officinal that grows in water!
They're tasty additions to salads, great space fillers, pest controllers, attract beneficial pollinators, make cheerful cut flowers and are also a great medicinal plant. But there are many more uses ...
Here are some of the ways we can use nasturtiums in our gardens:
Comment by Scarlett Patrick on Tuesday
Isabell Shipard's wonderful herb book 'How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life?' says that nasturtiums "secrete an essence into the soil, which is absorbed by other plants, helping them to resist attack by pests and disease. The smell of the leaves is also a pest deterrent." It's the hoverflies they attract that attack the aphids and the leaves can be infused in boiling water, cooled, strained and with a little liquid soap added, be used as s spray for aphids.
According to the useful book 'Permaculture Plants' nasturtiums make great companion plants to apples, cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohrabi, turnips, radishers, cucumbers and zucchini.
'Jackie French's Guide to Companion Planting' says:
"Yellow and orange-flowered nasturtiums are reputed to repel woolly aphids, aphids, mites and red spider mites from plants grown above them. Nasturtium's mustard-scented foliage also repels pests. It doesn't matter what colour the flowers are."
"They are also a good ground cover, not exhausting the soil, nor demanding too much moisture, and they keep moisture in and weeds out. The only drawback of nasturtiums is that they are annual in cold areas where frost kills them, so you are left with bare soil. An alternative is to plant the nasturtiums every year when you mulch the trees, along with some mustard seed perhaps. The mulch will have broken down by the time the first frost arrives, and your other orchard species will take over the bare ground."
I am using the nasturtiums more and more now I've realised their many health benefits too. Isabell Shipard recommended eating 3 fresh leaves 3 times a day a couple of months ago when I had a cough that just wouldn't disappear for over a month. I only managed 3 leaves twice for one day and the cough went! I was really impressed - I believe this could be due to the fast working antibiotic action in the plant.
Her herb book also says nasturtiums have apparently been found to be effective against some microorganisms that are resistant to common antibiotics, help prevent and relieve coughs, colds and flu and eating 3 seeds daily helps build up resistance to viruses, colds and measles. There are many more medicinal uses listed. So definitely more than just a pretty face from my perspective!
The nasturtium below is growing near my kaffir lime tree.
Nasturtiums are easily grown by seed and they self-seed so once you have them in your garden, they will supply you with all your needs for more and plenty to share around too.
If you don't have enough seed to spread around your garden, you can also propagate them by taking cuttings or divide the roots. The roots will strike if you put in water or a loose sandy potting mix in the shade. Interestingly, they seem to flower better in poorer soils - they just tend to produce more leaves in rich soils. Suits me because they are great space fillers for those sorts of areas in my garden.
A truly multi-functional plant for every garden and for our health!
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