gabriola garden

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Nasturtiums Take Over Hedgehog's Barrel

We grow Tiger Lily and Malva in containers on the back stairs, along with some other flowers and plants. Finally, it’s starting to feel like summer here on Gabriola, so more and more blooms are opening to absorb the life giving light and warmth.

The Sun Flare Rose is continuing to grace us with new blooms, while the Sweet William provides the pinkish purple cluster of blooms that characterize this lovely plant. Our vegetables continue to grow, with a whole row of Sweet Peas making their appearance against the back fence.

The oddest behavior of all our plants seems to have fallen on the prolific Nasturtium. Hedgehog grew quite a few of these annual plants from seed in jiffy pots, and Sara helped her plant them in Hedgehog’s chosen barrel, alongside some store-bought flowers.

Well, the Nasturtium has taken off like gangbusters, not just in the barrel, but a few of them spilled over into our window boxes. Since then, Sara has been told that Nasturtiums actually prefer to grow in poor, but well drained soil.

I also found out that they don’t like to be fertilized. So Sara’s rich, black, humus-like soil, coupled with her frequent applications of Iguana Juice, has spurred this edible plant to multiply like rabbits.

“Did you give it Grow or Bloom?” I asked. “Well, I gave it Iguana Juice Grow for the first application in the barrel and the window boxes, but then I switched to Bloom, since most everything else was already blooming,” was her answer.

Well, obviously the poor plant gobbled up the Nitrogen in Grow and started to grow foliage like crazy. Sara says she has never seen the circular leaves of this plant so big. Unfortunately, all this vegetative growth will be at the expense of flower production.

Hedgehog is not too upset, ever since Sara told her that we can just pick off the leaves at any time and throw them into a salad. In fact, the flowers of this plant are also edible.

Thank goodness they seem to like it, because I chewed a leaf and I’d rather stick to ordinary salad greens. But Nasturtium has ten times the vitamin C content of lettuce, so I might try it once more.

Sara must have had a premonition with regard the dominant behavior of Nasturtiums, since she didn’t plant any in her regular flowerbeds. Some plants just seem to take over wherever they grow. That’s why we grow Malva in pots, since they also behave in a dominant fashion.

“I love Morning Glory,” explained Sara, “but I would never grow it in my garden, since it covers the whole flower bed in the blink of an eye.” As it is, Sara’s flower garden is flourishing as never before, on a steady diet of organic plant food and supplements from Advanced Nutrients.

In addition to our 100% organic basic ferts, we also feed our gardens (both Sara’s flowers and my vegetables) regularly with a nutrient mix, containing Humic and Fulvic Acid—to create and maintain a highly fertile soil—as well as the root colonizers Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice. These provide beneficial bioactive microorganisms to strengthen our root systems and help them absorb food more efficiently.

We also mix in Barricade to allow its potassium silicate molecules to thicken the cell walls of our plants. Thick cell walls repel pathogens and pests, including the sucking mouthparts of spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies.

I spray regularly with Scorpion Juice, since this AN product also wards off pathogen attacks as well as deters insects from sampling our plants. Scorpion Juice imparts induced systemic resistance, which boosts the immune systems of our garden cultivars.

SensiZym and Seaweed Extract are two additional AN products that we use regularly. The latter is like a shot of multi-vitamin as well as of naturally occurring plant hormones that aid in cell division, food absorption, and overall growth.

Organic B is not only a highly effective B-complex vitamin from organic sources, but a veritable soothing agent for our plants whenever they get stressed out. We try to water them regularly, in order to prevent drought stress, but too much rain can also stress out a garden, and we’ve had plenty of precipitation in the past few weeks.

Some advice pertaining to Nasturtiums. Make sure to keep them trimmed back, or else they’ll crowd out the other plants. Soon after I took the above pictures, Sara picked quite a few leaves for a salad, so Hedgehog’s barrel and the window box in question look much better.

Nasturtium flowers are an array of colors—cream, crimson, orange, or yellow—and they are self-seeding. So left to their own devices they will come back the following year, provided they are allowed to go to seed and the winter is not too cold.

They don’t like to be watered too often, one deep-watering every seven to ten days is sufficient. So the copious amounts of rain we’ve been getting, almost on a daily basis, could also account for their prolific vegetative growth.

They’re members of the genus Nasturtium of the Mustard family. In fact the name could refer to one of eighty species of annual or perennial plants in the genera of Tropaeolum, one of three on the family of Tropaeolaceae.

Hedgehog is growing T. majus, one of three very popular varieties of the plant. Native to Central and South America, the Conquistadors brought the species to Europe. Today, it is grown all over the world.

You may grow them either in direct or indirect sunlight, but some varieties prefer partial shade. After doing a bit of research I decided to grow them on the edges of my vegetable garden next year, since they seem to repel some pests that plague cucurbits, such as squash and cucumbers.

Caterpillars don’t like them, so they stay away, and supposedly they attract predatory insects. They ward off aphids and whiteflies, so next year they’ll go next to my tomatoes, but not too close. And if they get out of hand, Hedgehog can have them in a salad. She should be eating more vegetables anyway.

Some people, those who have a lot of time on their hands, will no doubt enjoy making Nasturtium Butter, Nasturtium Mayonnaise, or Nasturtium and Potato Soup. The latter I love, so I might look up an easy recipe and attempt it myself.

posted by Tim at 12:49 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home