Volunteers You Can Count On

digitS'

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This is the Fruits & Vegetables forum so I am talking about something for the table ... not the chair at the table ;).

As many gardeners, I have dill and cilantro volunteers. I'm happy about that and we DO use them, or, some of them since they can be very prolific (and even sow cilantro seed each year so as to extend the season).

It used to be that Orach was of real importance in the early garden. Bbuuuttt, even with Help, haven't found the variety that once volunteered each Spring from a mother plant, left in an out-of-the-way spot the year before. The property owner moved & sold that place after he had inherited it from his father, my gardening buddy. Since I didn't sneak over and steal a volunteer plant for seed, I was left trying to decide what it was! Some orach varieties are now bred for the ornamental garden. (Native Seed Search has a couple of varieties that I know nothing about and should be worth a try in '24 - LINK.)

Orach would be past its harvest season by now, even if it was slowed a little in the Spring with me moving volunteers around. This is a cousin in the family, runs to a somewhat longer harvest season and my vegetable volunteer for the table the last few years.

IMG_0625.jpeg
Amaranth is a very common plant for the flower garden. Unlike another cousin, Spinach, it isn't commonly eaten. Seeds for these amaranths which may volunteer most anywhere ;), were given to us by a friend, who received them from another friend. Where they came from originally is a mystery to me. They are, indeed, quite ornamental (often darker in color than this one). Purple like another of my favorite vegetables - beet greens, another cousin - after they are cooked and arrive on the plate.

Steve
growing here beside some Thai Hot peppers
zAm.jpg
 

heirloomgal

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I tend to get amaranth, lamb's quarters, orach and anything chenopodium all mixed up. They all sort of fall under that 'small, early green things' you can eat heading. I've never tried any of them cooked, though I hear they can be. They seem like teeny plants though. If they're anything like spinach, steam shrinks them considerably too.

The Magenta Spreen that I *planted* years ago, probably 7, from a Seedy Saturday packet has amazed me with it's seed longevity. I allowed it to set seed that first year, then never again, and it's still coming up. I hoed some of it out even today. The seed it set has the same longevity that common weeds do. I've found it more persistent than the horsetail, which I've nearly rid from the gardens more so at this point. And yet the green tassels amaranth I planted last year, which went to seed, didn't seem come up in the least this year.
 

Zeedman

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Other than dill, ground cherries & tomatillos volunteer now - heavily. Litchi tomato has proven to volunteer readily too. All of those were last grown in 2021, but have appeared in large numbers this year. Tomatoes will volunteer too, if some of them rot where they were grown. ALL of these can easily become weeds the year after.

There is a flowering mallow, 'Zebrina", which I have allowed to naturalize in all of my vegetable gardens. Since it blooms early & continuously until frost, it helps to attract bees... but if allowed to grow throughout the garden, it also contributes to my barrier crop philosophy, by giving bees places to "wipe their feet". It is also a great trap crop for Japanese beetles.
 

Phaedra

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Some herbs turn into volunteers on our property and are welcome, including lavender, chamomile, cilantro, borage, and fennel.

I also got a lot of volunteer tomatoes this year and transplanted them to spots that received the most sufficient sunlight as an experiment. Can't wait to see how much they can produce.
 

flowerbug

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...
There is a flowering mallow, 'Zebrina", which I have allowed to naturalize in all of my vegetable gardens. Since it blooms early & continuously until frost, it helps to attract bees... but if allowed to grow throughout the garden, it also contributes to my barrier crop philosophy, by giving bees places to "wipe their feet". It is also a great trap crop for Japanese beetles.

having to keep removing it from a garden after letting it go to seed i wish i could just leave it but it also attracts groundhogs inside the fenced gardens. outside the fence i don't mind what it does... morning glories, purslane, thistles of any kind, grasses (we had tumble weeds from the south field last year - they got all over the place :( ), horsetail, ground ivy, bedstraw, speedwells...

the ones i don't mind going around are the pinks. i leave a few of those alone in any garden where they appear. i have the small relative called Flashing Lights which i used to have in the entire North Garden but that was too hard to keep weeds out of compared to the creeping thyme i'm using now. Flashing Lights will wander around too and i will leave that to flower if the plant isn't in the way of anything else. Sandwort was a hoped for ground cover but it has not persisted or spread much compared to what i was hoping. the Creeping Phlox also has persisted but it doesn't easily transplant or spread as much as i'd like. i took large chunks of it to transplant and that just meant i almost got rid of it entirely since the transplants didn't take and the old patch was almost empty. a few spots of it left now but the other thyme we have growing around is dominant.
 

flowerbug

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right now it is billion dollar baby sprouting time aka purslane. all those little seedlings popping up every place i did any kind of soil disturbance when planting. it was so rock hard this season that i did have to break up a lot of clods and moved a lot of garden soil around which did move plenty of seeds into their germination zone. you pay for it when you disturb the soil much...

oh, and the one pathway which is crushed limestone gravel which had the morning glories drop seeds did have some sprouts coming up again. i got them all last week with the stirrup hoe as i was walking by. must be at least 8yrs now.
 

digitS'

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No real luck with volunteer tomatoes excepting those very-early Coyote (which neither DW nor I find much to our liking).

That amaranth in a stump photo I posted shows oregano in the same location. Once again, I don't have any real liking for that herb.

@heirloomgal , I was wondering about Magenta Spreen years ago but didn't see much in the way of positive reviews and there were some negative. I find each in the Amaranth family different – from beets, chard, spinach to pigweed, lambsquarters, amaranth and orach and I enjoy them all at the table.

Perilla volunteers every year. I might have thought years ago that we could try making sushi but I must not have the variety that makes large enough leaves ooorrr, & I'm certain that it is a possibility ;), I really don't have much of an idea of what I would be doing as a sushi maker. Still, perilla is a pretty plant and I'm happy to see it.

This Spring, we had the first lettuce volunteers. Wow! Of course, I'm not much for growing seed and don't usually allow the plants to stay once they bolt.
 

Branching Out

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We have one robust volunteer tomato that I don't have the heart to kill, and lots of volunteer parsley that we are thankful for. At the moment Ammi is growing tall all of its own accord; once we cut it for bouquets it will be turfed. I wish had ground cherries volunteering because I forgot to sow them-- but cucamelons plants abound (but they don't seem to tolerate transplanting-- at all! And they are all in the wrong place.)
 
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