Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are more than just pretty flowers.  They are friendly forces in the garden.

Nasturtiums repel squash bugs, borers, striped pumpkin beetles, cabbage moths, potato beetles, and whiteflies, and they attract aphids, which eat them and then die.  They also attract aphid predators, which finish off the aphids on the nasturtiums as well as your neighbouring plants.  Plant them around your tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, brassicas, lettuce, pumpkins, radishes, squash, fruit trees, and any other plants that are vulnerable to these pests (except for cauliflower).  You can also use them to make an aphid spray.

There are tall (8 to 10 feet high) vining varieties, and dwarf varieties of nasturtiums, and variations in-between.  They’re easy to grow in a sunny spot in your garden or in containers.  They produce almost pea-sized seeds which are easy to collect for the next year.  All parts of this plant are edible (they have a peppery flavour).  The blooms and greens are commonly eaten in salads, as garnishes, or as a replacement for capers, and the seeds may be pickled.

 

Beautifying your vegetable garden

There’s no need to sacrifice beauty for function

Some vegetable plants have beautiful blooms, like the eggplant above, and the cucumber below.

Cucumber
You can plant edible flowers, like nasturtiums, and flowers used in medicines and teas, like the coneflower (Echinacea).

Nasturtiums
Marigolds (not shown) are great at deterring pests such as beetles and nematodes.

Coneflowers
Try planting conventional vegetables in unconventional colours – such as black or zebra tomatoes, purple or pink beans, or black or chocolate peppers. They’ll add big splashes of colour to your garden as they ripen.

Purple pepper
Include a bird bath or two to attract birds to your garden and add ornamentation. Many varieties of birds will help you out by eating some of the insects that prey on your plants.
Create garden beds out of bricks, wood, and other interesting materials. Here are some ideas: http://www.lushome.com/creating-per….
Finally, add a lounge chair next to your garden so you can sit outside and enjoy your hard work–and maybe pull out a few weeds.
Anyone have any great ideas to share?