When I chose plants this spring I was only thinking about the produce I wanted. I remember big fat horn worms munching on tomatoes when I was a kid, so it crossed my mind, but I just thought I would cross that bridge if it showed up in the road. It has not as of yet, just a few little worm/caterpillar types that I have pulled off.
One of the plants I got on a whim was nasturtium. I think they are pretty cool flowers. They are edible, leaves and flowers both. They have a surprisingly spicy flavor that makes a great addition to salad. I put the plants in pots and had to move them around until they found the right amount of light. They seemed happy enough for a bit. A few of the plants seemed to be struggling a little after a few weeks. I realized they had aphids. There is a grape vine that grows by my back porch that had aphids, but I thought I had gotten rid of them a few weeks before they showed up on the nasturtium.
I was frustrated for a while because I tried a number of different things that usually eradicate the pesky little buggers, but with no results. Well, other than 3 of the 6 plants died. I realized that none of the veggies had any aphids. It occurred to me that I had a sacrificial plant.
There are many plants that can have this type of helpful effect in a garden. Not only are there plants that can distract bugs from the prize winning flowers, but there are also plants that will deter the larger critters from stepping foot in the garden in the first place! For example; lavender and marigolds are good to keep deer and rabbits out. There are some helpful web sites out there if you want to investigate this concept.
I may have had luck with the bugs this summer, but I am still working on keeping the cats out of my mulch! I am open to any suggestions!