Growing flowers in your vegetable garden not only brightens your garden, but can help to repel pests, attract pollinators, and some (like nasturtiums) are edible as well! Nasturtiums are a favourite of mine on those days when I go out to peruse my vegetable garden. Growing nasturtiums from seed is incredibly easily with very little effort. Actually, nasturtiums tend to thrive in poor soil and do well in drought conditions! (When you forget to water, these beauties don't mind.) They grow well in both full sun and part shade, although they produce more blossoms in full sun. Nasturtiums act as a ground cover keeping weeds at bay. Pollinators, hummingbirds and ladybugs all love this bright, beautiful flower. Nasturtiums act to repel and trap pests. And to add to this long list, nasturtium flowers, leaves and stems are edible, making a stunning addition to your summer dishes. Are you sold yet? Will you be adding this wonderful flower to your garden? Let's explore these benefits as well as discuss some tips for growing nasturtiums from seed.
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Nasturtiums come in a variety of bright colors and varieties include dwarf, bush, climbing and trailing.
How to Plant Nasturtium Seeds
Nasturtium seeds are pea sized and easy to work with. Nasturtium seeds can be started indoors or direct seeded outdoors. For earlier blossoms, plant nasturtiums indoors 4 - 6 weeks prior to your last frost. (Find my complete list on when to start seeds indoors here.) For faster germination, nasturtium seeds can be soaked in water for 12 to 24 hours prior to planting them.
Nasturtium seeds need darkness to germinate so don't plant near the surface of the soil. Plant seeds 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep. Keep moist until germinated. Because nasturtiums grow so quickly, I like to start them in 2 to 4 inch pots, one seed per pot.
How to Care for Nasturtiums
As stated previously, nasturtiums require very little care to grow, making them an ideal plant for children's gardens. Nasturtiums continue to blossom all summer long. You do not need to fertilize them either! Cutting back your nasturtium plants will encourage more compact growth and new blossoms.
Nasturtiums are Edible
Enjoy the spicy flavour of nasturtiums in salads, as a garnish or as a pesto. Immature nasturtium seeds can be harvested and pickled and are referred to as poor man's capers.
Nasturtiums as a Pest Deterrent
Another reason to grow nasturtiums in your vegetable garden is that they act as a natural pest trap and deterrent. Nasturtiums actually attract aphids and cabbage moths. The idea is that these garden pests will attack your nasturtiums instead of your other more sensitive garden plants. If you notice your nasturtium infected with these pests, cut off and dispose of all infected branches. (Burn them if possible.) Your nasturtium plant will be no worse for wear after the haircut.
Nasturtium plants also repel whiteflies, squash bugs and many beetles, making them a wonderful companion plant to vegetables vulnerable to these pests.
Companion Plants for Nasturtiums
Plant nasturtiums next to tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, melons, squash and radishes. (Find my full printable companion planting guide here.)
Saving Nasturtium Seeds
Nasturtium seeds are one of the easiest flower seeds to collect and save for planting next year. Check underneath your mature nasturtium plant for these light brown pea sized seeds laying on the ground. Place the seed in a dry area and let it continue to dry out for 3 weeks before placing in an envelope and storing in a cool, dry area.
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