garden pests hydrangea paniculata Perennials summer The Aging Process Uncategorized

Spitfire grew best in bad dirt

With the end of the growing season in sight, I can begin to think about taking a rest from all the work involved with gardening. Yes, work! And I don’t do near as much as most folks do in the garden. I let the weeds do what they will in a lot of my flower beds and in the vegetable garden, I don’t trim the roses and meatball shrubs as I should, there’s always a spot needing mulched that I never get around to mulching, and I don’t keep up with The Jones and their golf course lawns. When September gets here, and I start seeing the reddish tints on sedum, the pinkish colors coming in on peegee hydrangeas, and the night air gets ever more nippier I know it won’t be long until…

And another season passes, and I wonder where it went, thinking morbid thoughts of how many more I might see before I return to where the roots grow. There really is a time for all things to end, but being a Christian I like to think that there’s something bigger and better beyond the here and now. And I hope the garden there grows no weeds, only flowers, roses mostly, I hope.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that little spiel outta the way, lets get on with the Nasturtium ‘Spitfire’ GROW project report shall we? Yes, we shall…

I’ve discovered that some heirlooms just don’t like to be coddled. And one of them is ‘Spitfire.’ I had to remind myself when looking at it that it was an heirloom after all, and why did I expect it to perform like a hybrid? So, feeling guilty, I changed my expectations to those more suitable to how heirlooms should look … not like hybrids, all perfect and whatnot, but more like how things used to grow, before they made all that artificial fertilizer junk and other unnatural stuff that a lot of folks dump on their flowers and vegetables. This is my fourth year as an organic gardener, and when you make that switch, you have to stop doing certain things. You also have to learn a few new things too, like how not to coddle heirlooms.

So, I quit coddling and ‘Spitfire’ responded.

N. 'Spitfire'
N. 'Spitfire' bloom

There is something else you should know about growing any type of flower or plant…


Some plants and flowers are more prone to attracting aphids than others. It seemed to be that they loved ‘Spitfire’ over everything else in my garden. And this is the first time I’ve had such an infestation, but only on ‘Spitfire,’ which was the only nasturtium I grew this year.

Double Cosmos 'Rose Bon Bon'
Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
PeeGee Hydrangea (Hydrangea Paniculata)

“I’m growing Nasturtium ‘Spitfire’ for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.”


By TC Conner

Pro hobbyist photographer, drone enthusiast, musician, husband and father.

15 replies on “Spitfire grew best in bad dirt”

When I read your stuff, i always smile. I have the senior mag. by my place at the table so I don’t forget to read your column. I had a hanging basket of trailing nasturtiums and no aphids but they were a pain to keep looking nice. They required a lot of deadheading and removal of yellow leaves. I don’t think I will do that again but would love to have the bush ones as a annual in my mostly perennial front bed. I found late planting of zinnias really brought the bed to life here in September.

Hi Carol Ann, so nice to see you here! Thanks so much for reading my articles, I really appreciate it. How late did you plant your zinnias? I’ll have to try that next year as I love them! (And you’re not a bad writer yourself, I usually read your articles in Allied News.)

TC, congrats on finally getting something resembling a living plant with the nasturtiums. They’re used in agriculture as a trap crop, they grow them so aphids will latch onto them and stay away from valuable crops.

Yay – your nasties are blooming! I’m jealous TC.

That cosmos is beautiful. I did try planting my seeds, and as expected, there’s not enough sun here for them. Amazingly the tiny little plants are still there, still looking like the seedlings they were back in early June.

Ms. Linda, I’m still not convinced that I’ll be growin ‘Spitfire’ in the future. Although the spot I put them in out front showed me that they like plain ol’ dirt better than amended garden soil.

I can honestly say I have NEVER seen Aphids outside of my greenhouse! Is that crazy???
I love your shares – the blooms are amazing! That double cosmos is to die for. I have the white variety in my garden this year.
Enjoy your Labor Day in the Garden.

Hi Ms. Bren, I know aphids are here (and everywhere), but don’t usually see them amass on stuff like they were on those nasties. We’ve grown practically all the different types of cosmos here, they’re an easy annual. And I’m curious about “shares.” What are they?

You seem to be the only one who has had luck with those nasturtiums. Good job! Also, congrats on winning the photo contest. I think a check for $250 should be coming your way. Super great!

There’s a few other participants who’ve had a little more success than I have Ms. Tina. If you click on the Grow Project link it’ll take you to Mr. Brown Thumbs site where there’s links to other nasty growers. And thanks for the congrats on my winning photo!

Good to know even masters don’t keep up with the Joneses. Makes me feel better. 😉

I don’t coddle anything, no time for that. Maybe I should turn to heirlooms if they like to be neglected? I’m delighted to have one blooming sunflower this fall after all the years I’ve tried to grow them. Maybe next year I’ll get two.

The fall makes my thoughts meander like that, also.

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