The tansy †Tanacetum Vulgaree) is a plant native to Eastern Europe.
Cultivated and used for a very long time as a medicinal plant by the monks, it has since been acclimatized in many regions.
The common variety is a vigorous plant that can grow up to 1m50 and consists of several stems that form a relatively dense tuft.
Its abundant and highly fragrant flowering in August, in addition to its repellent effect for many insects (but on the contrary attractive for aphids, for example… which will also attract ladybugs as a side effect), gives a decorative touch to the natural garden.
Crops naturally protected thanks to adapted practices, is that possible?
The plant contains tannins, fatty or volatile oils, as well as a resin (tanacetin: resinous substance extracted from leaves and flowers, deadly to humans and mammals in a dose of 15 grams).
Where can you find tansy in nature?
Common (or common) tansy can now grow spontaneously almost anywhere in Europe, especially in the light soils it particularly likes.
You will find them, spontaneously grown, in the meadows, on the banks, at the edge of the path or sometimes even in the garden.
Although sun-loving, this perennial also grows well in more shady situations.
Please note: it is forbidden to take plants from the wild…
For this reason, but also because it is more practical to have some on hand, I recommend that you grow some in your garden instead…
Although it prefers humus-rich and fairly cool (but well-drained) soil, it also adapts very well to lighter soils.
It supports limestone but is afraid of very acidic soils.
A little greedy, simple addition of compost every 2 or 3 years is more than enough.
It is a plant that spreads easily and has an inhibiting effect on the growth of certain herbaceous plants. It is therefore preferable to cultivate it slightly apart (for example, on the edge of the garden or vegetable garden).
Choose a fairly sunny location (but it will easily adapt to early morning or late afternoon shade).
This plant can withstand severe frost and drought without any problems (but during prolonged drought it may be advisable to water it…). She doesn’t like standing water.
Since the seeds are very small, sowing is a bit tricky.
We sow the tansy:
- right in place from spring to fall, with plenty of warm exposure
- or in the nursery, also from spring to autumn, in small individual pots (the plants are then planted the following spring)
Here you will find seeds. (these are tiny seeds… and a bag contains several thousand… don’t hesitate to pass them on to your neighbors and friends as you share this article with them!).
You can also find plants in some garden centers.
Planting is done in spring or autumn. If you are planting several, space the plants at least 60 cm apart.
Water once or twice to aid recovery when the weather is dry.
If you already have a plant and you want to propagate it or you want to renew your planting (which is good every 4 or 5 years), you can proceed in the spring or autumn by dividing the plants.
Using tansy in the garden
Belonging to the same family as pyrethrums (from which a well-known natural insecticide is extracted), this perennial repels many insects.
The vines, the raspberries, the roses or the potatoes (it would keep the beetles at bay, which has yet to be demonstrated…) appreciate its proximity.
In the natural vegetable garden, we use dried flowers or the whole plant (leaves, stems and blooms) fresh or dried, under different preparations: maceration, infusion, decoction and liquid fertilizer.
Let’s take a closer look at these natural preparations based on: tanacetum vulgare †
The preparations we have just seen have a preventive effect. We will now see that this plant can also be used as a natural insecticide…
Prepare a natural insecticide based on tansy.
As we have seen before, this species belongs to the same family as the pyrethrums commonly used as biological insecticides.
This beautiful plant can therefore also be used for the preparation of a very powerful natural insecticideespecially against the leek worm, cabbage worm caterpillar or aphids. This preparation is also effective against: slugs†
I want to note here that the use of an insecticide, even completely natural, is not trivial. Indeed, by killing an insect of any kind, we create an additional imbalance…
I’m a bit counter-productive with this recipeheart (several readers have asked me about it) but I don’t recommend using it.
In any case, its use should be strictly reserved for extreme cases.
But now let’s see how to prepare this insecticide:
- Chop dried leaves and flowers to obtain the finest powder.
- Macerate 10 teaspoons of this powder in 1 liter of ethyl alcohol at 90°C (available in pharmacies) or, failing that, alcohol intended for fruit liqueurs.
- Let it macerate for about 10 days, shaking the bottle every now and then. The insecticide is then ready.
Here’s how to use this natural insecticide:
- Dilute 15 ml (a tablespoon) in 1 liter of water, if necessary added with a teaspoon of black soap (for better adhesion of the product).
- Preferably spray on affected crops in the evening.
- Wait at least 48 hours before harvesting the vegetables, which must be carefully cleaned before consumption.
This insecticide can be kept out of light and in a cool place for at least 2 years.
This product is toxic: do not forget to label it and make sure it is not within the reach of children
CAUTION: Tansy is poisonous and should be used in low doses and with great care!
In the Middle Ages, farmers used it as a substitute for pepper. The Russians also used it for making beer (it replaced hops).
Nowadays the English traditionally taste Easter pudding with it.
In small doses, it gives an original touch to salads, sauces or stewed meat.
You can also make a tansy wine.
It is also a potent vermifuge that is somewhat neglected today due to its potential danger.
The dried whole plant placed in the house will keep moths, fleas and mites at bay.
Do not hesitate to share (below) your own experiences and observations about this very useful plant in a natural vegetable garden.