Volunteerism, Part Two

Since I was blogging about volunteer plants in my garden this morning, I thought I’d take the camera out and get a few shots of some of them.  I even found a new one today while weeding the spinach in the northeastern garden!

volunteer bronze fennelThis bronze fennel was part of a failed seeding of fall salad mix.  I don’t remember ever seeing any of this fennel even come up, but here’s a plant that decided to make an appearance this year, and from which I’ll save seed. In the same bed, from an earlier sowing last year, a volunteer broccoli raab:

volunteer broccoli raabThe thing is going nuts–it’s bigger than the stuff I have under row cover (because I’ve been cutting what’s under the cover–this is going to be for seed).  In the east garden, I’ve been working on mulching the aisles, but there’s a couple I can’t really mulch yet–here’s why:

volunteer dillAll that feathery stuff along the sides of the row cover is volunteer dill.  Obviously, I didn’t have to actually plant it this year.  It’s also under the row covers amongst the cabbages, broccoli raab, and bok choy. Another herb that volunteers lavishly in my garden is cilantro:

volunteer cilantroThe above shot is in the west garden, but it’s in the central and eastern gardens as well.

Not all of my volunteers get treated so nicely.  This volunteer Freckles romaine has had the hose dragged over it more than a few times:

volunteer freckles romaineA new one for me this year is the result of growing so many fingerling potatoes last year (and missing a number of tiny ones when I harvested).  I have volunteers of a couple varieties–this one’s an Austrian Crescent (which later got hoed, but the Purple Peruvians in the bok choy & raab row are safe for now).

volunteer fingerling potatoThe perennial green onions have been replenishing themselves via division and by volunteerism for years.  Because I let them flower for all the native pollinators, they also tend to drop a lot of seed.  What looks like grass in the foreground is actually tiny green onions.  What looks like grass in the background–well, that’s grass.  I’ll weed that row when there aren’t so many bees hanging out in it!

volunteer green onionsI don’t usually transplant or move volunteer plants unless they’re fairly high value and I have space.  This is one of the kale plants that volunteered in my window box at home this spring.  I moved them all out to the farm in order to have an earlier, bigger kale crop this fall.

volunteer kaleThe kale, I should mention, are volunteers of volunteers: a couple years ago I threw some kale seed in the north side bed of the home gardens–not to grow, but because it was old seed.  Some of it did grow, and one of those plants overwintered and produced seed. Not thinking the seed would be viable, I then tossed the seed stalk in the windowbox. Voila! Fifteen or so little kale plants!

Last but certainly not least of the volunteers is a given on Flying Tomato Farms:

volunteer tomatoThis is probably a San Marzano or a Principe Borghese, and again, it’s a volunteer of last year’s volunteers based on its location in what is a yellow onion bed this season.  I’ve weeded around a few of these just in case I need to replace some plants on any of the trellises or in the landscape fabric’d bed, shown below:

tomatoes on landscape fabricThis bed in the east garden is almost all shorter varieties of indeterminate tomatoes: San Marzanos, Principes, and some of the Zapotec/Marzano crosses I’m developing/stabilizing.  There’s a few open spots there (cutworms, probably, though I don’t usually have too much of a problem with them) that can host the volunteers from the west garden.

The idea behind this set-up is to allow the plants to sprawl over the top of the cages and onto the straw. The varieties are chosen both because they don’t get as tall/big, and they have thicker skin that’s not as prone to slug/insect damage. The landscape fabric both warms the soil and keeps weeds down (it’s hard to weed under the cages once the tomatoes grow through them).

Here’s the other set-up for tomatoes and pole beans on combination panels:

tomatoes and pole beansTomatoes on the south side, beans on the north.  There’s just enough room between the tomatoes (planted 4 squares apart–a bit over two feet, I think) to put in basil, and there’s enough room behind the panel for a row of head lettuces.

This set-up requires pretty decent fertility–the beans will fix nitrogen eventually, and the tomatoes got some fish emulsion and compost when they went in.  The lettuce will get some love, too–though right now all I have for manure is chicken, and I read on the back of the Territorial seed pack of these Bingo shell beans that the salts in chicken manure aren’t good for beans (yup, learn something new every day).

In theory, the pole beans help to support the tomatoes–in practice, they need some help with that job.  I usually use either hemp twine that can be composted or re-used baling twine from the straw bales I get from Mike. It’s possible you could cant the trellis backward to let the tomatoes sort of lie on it, but that could cause some accessibility issues.

I also wanted to include this shot of the Prezzemolo Gigante parsley (seed from Pinetree Garden Seeds) in the northcentral garden.  It’s supposed to be very large and very sweet, and the flavor is very nice.  It’s also the biggest parsley I’ve ever had this early in the season:

parsley prezzemolo gigante

How about one last image–from the farm looking south over the Vermillion River valley toward town (actually taken a few weeks ago, but it’s still pretty):

valley shot


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