Nasturtium pods ready to be picked and dried.
Honey bee collecting nectar from a nasturtium.
Nasturtiums keep invasive insects away from other flowering plants.

Nasturtiums are a key component of sustaining the ecosystem in our yard. They key is how they regenerate so easily. The nasturtium seeds are inside pods that hang from the vines that also produce colorful flowers. The pods fall to the ground, or in my case, are picked by me. I place the pods in the sun for an afternoon, then bring them inside on a paper plate where they dry in darkness. When the pods shrivel up and turn brown, I put them in a jar for sowing at a later date. Some people refrigerate them, but I haven’t found that necessary. I started in 2010 with zero nasturtiums and now have them everywhere.

The plant provides numerous benefits. Aside from adding color to the yard, it keeps certain invasive insects away while the flowers attract honey bees. Wildlife enjoy nasturtiums. While I’d rather not have gophers, these underground pests are common in my area. Last week I watched a gopher pull a nasturtium vine into its hole–such is life. The pods can be put in a coffee grinder and pulverized to produce “pepper.” The flowers can go in salads.

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