Self-seeding annuals

TwinCitiesPanda

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I am trying to incorporate more self-seeding herbs and flowers into my gardens to reduce the annual workload. I’m looking at things like dill, cilantro, violets, ground cherries, and strawberry spinach. I typically mulch all my beds with 3-6” of grass clippings to keep weeks down (a few beds have wood chips instead) and I’m wondering if this will stop the seeds from taking. Should I be pulling back the mulch once these guys are going to seed? Or just not mulching those areas at all?
 

Ridgerunner

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In Arkansas my dill, cilantro, and even basil would reseed if I let it go to seed. I remember Steve being surprised when I told him my basil reseeded. Sometimes I'd transplant them, sometimes let them go where they sprouted, They were pretty much in the area where I grew them the year before but maybe not exactly where I wanted them. Sometimes I'd even thin them out. I don't know how much work it really saved me but I did take advantage.

I don't know how much of that mulch is left in your spring when they would be sprouting. One of the purposes of mulch is to keep the seeds from sprouting so I'd want at least some dirt showing. If you remove the mulch will you be removing seeds? I'd want either the mulch to be pretty thin when seeds are dropping or the mulch to have pretty much turned to dirt by spring. Just thinking where mine did reseed.
 

digitS'

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There is some problems with timing.
  • If cilantro is wanted for salsa, the plants growing in April/May will likely to have completed their life cycle by the time the tomatoes are ripe.
  • If dill is wanted for pickles, it's the same story with the cucumbers.
There is the possibility of preserving the herbs for later use in some fashion but I have not done that. There are, of course, other early fresh uses for both of these.

Flowers - our eastside yard is nearly taken over by ornamental onions, mountain bluet and forget-me-nots, all self-seeded. I told my neighbor that I have lost the path in that narrow area. She said that she just sees it as a pretty flower garden. That's good and there are the perennials growing but only the columbines have bloomed. New annuals have been transplanted but it's currently something of a jungle. We are dead heading the onions and I'm willing to pull some of the bluet every spring and should have done more this year.

Out in front there are kiss-me-over-the-gardengate, near the gate ... (lots of hyphens in some of these names!) Actually, I like it to grow on both sides of the driveway. the other neighbor has a 4' fence and I have a brick fencepost/planter. The kiss-me .... on the other side can be corralled in a little corner flower bed with some dahlias and a petunia (blooming now :)) by the 3' picket fence. The kiss .... is late-starting and late blooming.

I wish that I hadn't neglected the cosmos and really should buy some seed. Larkspur did okay on its own but often had mildew problems. Bachelor buttons .... self-seeding.

Steve
 

Ridgerunner

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  • If cilantro is wanted for salsa, the plants growing in April/May will likely to have completed their life cycle by the time the tomatoes are ripe.

Ain't that the truth. I find that if I keep cutting cilantro off close to the ground before it blooms it keeps coming back but it still doesn't like heat. if it ever blooms it is done. As far north as Panda is that might stretch out the cilantro growing season enough but I have been known to dehydrate cilantro. It looses some of its potency but just use a little more.

  • If dill is wanted for pickles, it's the same story with the cucumbers.

I had the same issue with dill, I use the flower heads for pickling. If I keep the flower heads picked off the I could stretch the season, sometimes enough to use fresh dill heads for pickles. The plants get real long and gangly, the leaves you might use for dill seasoning don't like heat, but they try hard to make seeds. I'd rinse off the flower heads as I prunes them and freeze them in waxed paper, then put that waxed paper in a zip-loc freezer bag. I'd put a row of the flower heads on the waxed paper, fold the wax paper over, then put another row and fold that over. When I needed them I just unwrap those folds and use them. If my recipe called for using two flower heads I'd use four. No one ever complained about my dill pickles being too strong.
 

flowerbug

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  • If cilantro is wanted for salsa, the plants growing in April/May will likely to have completed their life cycle by the time the tomatoes are ripe.

Ain't that the truth. I find that if I keep cutting cilantro off close to the ground before it blooms it keeps coming back but it still doesn't like heat. if it ever blooms it is done. As far north as Panda is that might stretch out the cilantro growing season enough but I have been known to dehydrate cilantro. It looses some of its potency but just use a little more.

  • If dill is wanted for pickles, it's the same story with the cucumbers.

I had the same issue with dill, I use the flower heads for pickling. If I keep the flower heads picked off the I could stretch the season, sometimes enough to use fresh dill heads for pickles. The plants get real long and gangly, the leaves you might use for dill seasoning don't like heat, but they try hard to make seeds. I'd rinse off the flower heads as I prunes them and freeze them in waxed paper, then put that waxed paper in a zip-loc freezer bag. I'd put a row of the flower heads on the waxed paper, fold the wax paper over, then put another row and fold that over. When I needed them I just unwrap those folds and use them. If my recipe called for using two flower heads I'd use four. No one ever complained about my dill pickles being too strong.
i can never have enough dill, i eat the flowers and stems fresh when i'm out in the garden as a snack. i put about an inch of dill on the bottom of the jar, flower heads and young stems included. no problem here with getting dill and cucumbers at the same time. planting the starts from the greenhouse of both cucumbers and dill meant that by the time the cucumbers started producing the dill plants would be large enough to start clipping some dill. it has always been a good idea for us to have extra dill growing. now there is a new pest on dill so i'm actually glad we are no longer doing dill pickles. it was a lot of work to go through the dill and make sure those tiny worms weren't in there.

i could keep the dill plants flowering and productive up until the frosts started. i'd let a few go to seeds so we'd have extra. this year, nope. only a few plants around and i'm not letting them go to see inside the fenced gardens. i sure don't need yet another invasive plant to keep after. as much as i love it. nope. outside the fence, where we mow, i might leave a plant or two, but that depends upon if Mom mows them down or not.

we'll see... :)

for other annuals we have here are mostly the flowers, love in a mist and poppies are the biggest two i can think of. we don't eat the seeds from the love in a mist or the poppies. we just like the flowers.
 

seedcorn

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Same problem for me with cilantro and dill. I let both plus poppies & 4 O’clocks re-seed themselves.
 

flowerbug

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Oregano will Really spread.
so true for us. for some years i mistakenly let pennyroyal spread unchecked because the bees really love it - i didn't even taste it to see what it was. i thought it was oregano. lol oops. i'm still not sure we have oregano any place or not. we had a lot of patches of mints around and sometimes things would get confused/mingled...
 

thejenx

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New Zealand spinach self seeds and comes up through the old mulch. I've also had success with Russian red kale. Parsnips do this too and they can come up all over the garden as their seeds are so light, however those self seeded plants are often healthier than the ones i sowed myself. Magenta spreen or tree spinach also self seeds but it's a real pain when they are in the bed where you planted carrots!
 

digitS'

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@thejenx , 'Panda did mention strawberry spinach so she must be interested in self-sowing green vegetables.

I have to say that NZ spinach is really not to my liking ... Dad planted some and they nearly took over his garden. None of us cared about the flavor.

Your experience with spreen sounds as though it went unappreciated. I had a variety of orache growing as volunteers in one garden for what must have been well over 10 years. I was very, very happy with it. Now, I no longer have that garden and didn't think to save the seed my final year.

Growing seed from Baker Creek didn't produce plants quite what I had all those years. Last year, I tried a mix to see if the valued one was in there. It was a near disaster! The mix had plants that were huge -- nowhere near the polite variety that I had. Of course, I have forgotten what was on that long-ago seed packet and where it came from ...

I did some more reading about that spinach relative. Orache or Mountain Spinach is native to North America but there are several species. I'm not sure that I can even sort them out! For sure, I don't want a spreen or orache that takes over a bed as it quickly grows beyond any tender youthfulness! I've been trying to find some lambsquarters at an appropriate stage. I'd be happy to have even one or two servings of them in the near future.

Steve
 

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