“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.”
No, this is not a recipe post. I’m sure if you check Google, there are probably recipes with nasturtiums and potatoes…well, in fact here’s one for you. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s actually about learning and trying new things.
When we decided to get more out of our property by homesteading, I started doing a lot of research. Yes, I researched gluten and dairy free recipes for my Good Foods Dear Friends business, but that is only one aspect of our life here. I also looked into a lot of information and trainings on herbals, a longtime interest of mine. One plant I kept running into was nasturtiums. There are lots of articles all over the internet that list “25 reasons why you MUST grow nasturtiums”, or similar titles. Who knew this humble little plant, which I’ve never grown before, had so many benefits. Just the health benefits alone make it a must for every garden.
This plant is totally edible and is used in soups, salads, and main dishes. And of course, desserts. Beautiful desserts! My favorite recipe idea is nasturtium pesto. I love the idea of using the flowers with the leaves, and I think the peppery flavor would really go well with many meats. NOTE: This recipe uses nutritional yeast, which a lot of people seem to like as a substitute for parmesan cheese, but I can’t get past the smell to even attempt the taste. So I would just leave it out of this recipe.
But again, I’m not here to write a recipe. My focus these last several weeks has been on my gardens, and that’s why I’m writing tonight. Turns out nasturtiums are great companion plants for your vegetable garden. Of course the flowers attract pollinators, which is wonderful for many veggie plants, especially those summer squashes. If you’re wanting to go organic in your garden, nasturtiums help out with natural pest control. It is considered a “sacrificial crop”, as it attracts aphids and other less desirable insects, keeping them away from our future food. For brassicas (cabbage, kale, broccoli, etc), they attract the cabbage moths that can destroy your crops – if you find their eggs under their leaves, just pull the leaves off and add to your compost pile. For your squashes, they repel squash bugs that eat the roots of your plants. So many benefits, and this isn’t even a complete list!
And, of particular interest right now, they are amazing for chickens! Their antibacterial properties will help keep my girls healthy as they enjoy a tasty treat! (Maybe with cabbage moth eggs attached?)
So I planted a BUNCH of nasturtiums today, all around my vegetable garden, under my mailbox, and in a small section around the side of the house. With all that I have learned about this happy little plant, I definitely wanted to give them a try. I’m excited to see how they help my garden grow.
Now, what about those potatoes? I tried growing white potatoes several years ago. I look up “how to” articles and videos. I dug my trenches, planted the sprouted seed potatoes, covered them up with dirt, and as the plants grew, continued to keep the green plants covered. It was hot and difficult work, and the crop was a huge disappointment – small potatoes and not many of them. I decided never to do that again – they are easy enough to buy at the store, after all. However, one of the great aspects of homesteading is self-sustainability. I did some more research on growing potatoes and found people growing great crops in pots and bags. Now that idea I like. So I bought some “potato bags” and gave them a try. I filled the bags with a loose mixture of potting soil and peat moss, adding more to the bags as the potato plants grow. They are now filled to the top with soil and the plants are growing very well. If this doesn’t work, I’ll be very disappointed!
I bought some sweet potato vines last year and planted them in my garden. The vines were very healthy and grew all over the garden. I waited until the first frost and happily dug up my sweet potatoes, only to find several small fingerlings, a very few decent sized, and not much else. Happiness faded to disappointment and I tried to figure out what went wrong. We have a lot of clay on our property and I think the dirt was just too dense for them to grow properly. I didn’t have enough bags to use, so I found some large pots, added potting soil and peat moss, and newly purchased sweet potato slips. I didn’t grow the slips myself; that’ll be something for next year. Really hoping I have some sweet potatoes this fall!!
I’ll have to do an update post in later in the season to let you know how these new-to-me ideas work out. I’m pretty excited about them, as well as other things I’ve learned about but haven’t tried out yet. Are you looking to start something new? Expanding into a new venture? What kind of new ideas are you wanting to try? Do your research, then dive in! Who knows what you might learn?
In the meantime, I’ve been preparing for Farmer’s Market season. Good Food Dear Friends can be found at the Huntingburg, Indiana market on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays, and at the Jasper market on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays. I’ll have baked goods, energy balls, herbal teas, and baking mixes, all gluten and dairy free. I also take special orders. If you have any questions, or would like more information, you can leave a comment here, message me through my GFDF Facebook page, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing Dear Friends, old and new, who enjoy safe and delicious Good Food!
See you soon!