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Garden expert explains 'sacrificial' plant that keeps pests at bay and helps pollinators: 'An absolute must-grow'

"I grew them last year & they were so big by the end of the season. Thanks for reminding me to plant them again!"

"I grew them last year & they were so big by the end of the season. Thanks for reminding me to plant them again!"

Photo Credit: TikTok

Spring has arrived in many places in the Northern Hemisphere, bringing excitement about summer gardens. One gardening expert took to TikTok to extol the virtues of her favorite plant. 

The scoop

Nasturtium is an easy-to-grow plant that puts out beautiful, edible flowers in shades of yellow, orange, and red.

Tiktoker and expert gardener Bailey Van Tassel (bailey.vantassel) shared the three reasons she uses these amazing plants in her garden. In the clip, she says she loves the plant so much, "it's growing in five places in my garden right now." 

@bailey.vantassel Three reasons that you must grow nasturtium. #organicgardening #vegetablegarden #kitchengarden ♬ original sound - Bailey Van Tassel

The first reason for the plant, she tells viewers, is as a "trap plant, the sacrificial lamb of the garden, aphids love nasturtium."

Aphids can be an issue for many gardeners, these bugs multiply quickly, and according to The Old Farmer's Almanac, "feed by sucking the nutrient-rich liquids out of plants." Losing nutrients makes it hard for plants to grow and put out fruit. Planting a favorite food of these pesky bugs can protect your harvest.  

Next, Bailey tells us, "the second reason is obvious: pollinators, they bring them in." Pollinators are essential to get fruit and veggies from your garden. These beneficial insects fly around helping to fertilize your plants, leading to the production of fruit and seeds. 

The final reason nasturtiums are a hero in the garden is, that "every single part of this plant is edible — the petals on the flower, the leaves are edible, the seeds are even edible."

The leaves and flowers can be eaten as part of a salad or a garnish. Forager Chef says that the seeds can be pickled and turned into an alternative to capers. For all these reasons, Bailey calls them "an absolute must-grow."

How it's helping

Gardening is one of the best ways to get in touch with nature regularly. People who garden are reportedly happier and get more fiber in their diets.

If you have access to a yard or garden plot you can save hundreds of dollars a year growing your own food. If you only have space to grow a few things on your fire escape or your kitchen counter, you can grow things like herbs, saving you money and helping you level up your cooking. 

Unfortunately, in the United States, our mass-produced food system is quite wasteful. Around 40% of the food produced in the U.S. ends up in landfills. Many grocery store chains have been working toward zero waste, with some stores working with food banks to feed those in need rather than tossing perfectly good food.

Growing food at home can reduce your trips to the grocery store — and our reliance on this wasteful system. 

What everyone's saying

Gardeners in the comments were excited about nasturtiums. One person wrote, "nasturtiums, got it. you sold me at aphids sacrificial lamb, thank you!"

Another commenter said: "I grew them last year & they were so big by the end of the season. Thanks for reminding me to plant them again!"

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