Saturday, June 26, 2010


Since I spend so much of my gardening time planning where plants should go, sometimes serendipity gets forgotten.

That's real serendipity, not the "Oh no, how can I fit another one in here?" or just plain forgetting the plan kind of changes.

I was utterly committed to getting a blog post up today, especially after reading some great posts all around the garden crew last night. I may not have much time, but I do love reading your posts! But when I went outside with the camera, the reality of doing a real catch up post daunted me. Suffice it to say that the summer crops are coming on, although we're some time away from ripe tomatoes, I'm experimenting with cover crops -- who knew?, and I may still have underplanted pickling cucumbers, because every recipe I see says "Take ten pounds of pickling cucumbers," and I'm getting one about every three days. Any ideas?

But what did strike me, besides an overwhelming urge NOT to overwhelm anyone with my whole garden, was how many plants I had nothing to do with are popping or popped up.

So, I give you my volunteers. (This does not include the small tomato plants that keep popping up in the old tomato bed, in between the cucumbers, because I am ruthlessly ripping them out whenever I see them. Some restraint must be exercised, I believe. Nor does it include the true, and truly tenacious volunteers, my weeds. I'm doing as well as I can with them, but under control they aren't.)

Those would be the tat soi babies. Everywhere a seed dropped, up they popped. In walkways (some being stomped on), in beds, beside bean plants, everywhere. So if you were wondering? Tat soi is apparently a year-round plant in the Bay Area. Good thing, too -- it's a nice green. Perhaps I'll actually sow some after I eat these up.

This baby is something big. A pumpkin? A Marina di Chioggia? Something huge. I'm going to let it go a bit and see what happens, although that's not my general inclination with big volunteers. I'm just so impressed with the size. Each seed leaf has to be 3" long.

For some reason, I don't have my pictures of the tomato and rasperry right by the chicken coop, nor the oregano taking over part of the front yard, nor the volunteer tomato out front with biggish green tomatoes on it -- that plant is easily 6' tall now.

So I'm enjoying the ease with which these plants are popping up, and in the true spirit of volunteers, I'm not babying them at all. We'll just see how things go. Maybe I can figure out how to get more of that spirit into my planned plantings too.


kitsapFG said...

I have a single volunteer swiss chard plant growing in my parsnip patch. No idea how it got seeded there as I never direct seed swiss chard and I don't recall letting any go to seed in the garden - but there it is all the same. I am ruthless in pulling up the volunteer potatoes as they over whelm anything planted near them.

chaiselongue said...

Oregano taking over the front yard sounds like the kind of volunteer I like! We find tomatoes coming up everywhere, not just in last year's tomato beds but from the compost, I think. And last year we planted a whole row of chard from odd ones that had self-seeded around the place that we transplanted.

That pumpkin or whatever it is will be quite something, starting with leaves that big!

Heiko said...

Been eating melons in the garden and spitting out the seeds? That's what happens with me.

Ribbit said...

I have no volunteers, but I pulled out a squash plant a week ago that had stopped flowering and sure enough, it's sitting there in the burn pit flowering its head off.

Erin said...

You might want to prepare a few jars of the pickling liquid with your fresh dill, garlic, etc, and just add cucumbers to it in the fridge as they come in - refrigerator pickles will keep a couple of months so in a week or so you will have full jars and still time for them to sit and "pickle"!

Susan said...

I love that tatsoi everywhere! I love that volunteer pumpkin you got. It looks so healthy. Unlike my cucumbers which have refused to grow even a smidgen since I planted them, oh, 5 weeks ago. What are they doing??

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Did I spot you spinning at the Oakland Fiber Festival?

What a strange experience that festival was. I went, hoping to meet some spinners, and get some guidance on learning to spin, and not a single spinner would make eye contact. Was I wearing my invisible suit, again?

Mr. H. said...

I just wanted to say that I liked Erin's idea and that we will be trying that this year as ours always come on a few at a time as first anyway.

Our most prolific volunteer this year has been kale but it is still early. I got mad and ripped our boc choy out today...lunch for chickens. All our Asian greens go straight to seed no matter when I plant them...I will simply have to be happy looking at your pictures of them.:)

Stefaneener said...

Thanks, everyone, for reading and especially for commenting. I'm so off on posting but I do appreciate it.

kitsapFG, I'm a killer of most volunteer tomatoes (at least those in the garden) because I don't want to deal with them. Just too big. Potatoes are probably in the same camp. Off to the compost!

chaiselongue, I'm sure it's compost in my case. It's just not hot. EG's would work better. . . I'm waiting to see what sort of pumpkin it is.

Heiko, more like "composting" old ones -- I think we had a storebought one which went bad on the front steps. Your method sounds like more fun.

Ribbit, they're sentient, I do believe. Maybe you can get fruit where it is now.

Erin, you're BRILLIANT! I'll do that today.

Susan, most of my cukes are pouting too. I think perhaps like peppers they want really high fertility and steady moisture and heat. I'm still trying to figure it out.

Lisa -- I HEARD about you, why didn't you say something? I was wearing a nametag and a tag that said, "I can teach you to knit or spin," and I'd have been happy to do it. Heck, come over and we can spin here. Call me!

Mr. H., I was just wondering if it was worth it to try bok choy again. The tatsoi is less picky. If I can find the seeds, I'll send you some. They're so very good.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I barely managed to eek out an update post today, you were smart not to try to cover everything, I gave up about half way through LOL. I'm impressed though, volunteer Tatsoi! I loved our Tatsoi this year, but after harvesting the last about a month ago, I figured I should wait to replant. Once we had a few 95+ degree days, it just wanted to bolt. As soon as peek tomato season is winding down though, definitely planting more! Can't wait to see what your mystery squash is...we have a few of our own growing on the edge of the compost pile!

Stefaneener said...

CVF, I have no doubt that if I tried to grow these things, it would be less successful. On the other hand, the kale and broccoli are going gangbusters in the flat. I may just start some tatsoi for reals very soon. It can hang out during the fall and I'll eat it in November.

Kristin said...

Why not transplant those volunteers and have a volunteer victory garden? I like your reminder of the importance of serendipity in our lives; and you provided a visual metaphor of it by sharing photos of all those volunteers. This post was fun.

Daphne Gould said...

I have some volunteer lettuce popping up in my new garden (from the compost I brought over). I can't imagine it will grow much thought. We keep getting days around 90F and that is just too hot for it. At least it popped up in the shade.