plants can volunteer too

Volunteers welcome

Who wouldn’t want more volunteers in the garden? If you do trenching and rotate your crops, then you’ll have more show up than you could have hoped for, and every single one happy and tasty. Haha.

>> In the garden, a volunteer is any welcome or useful plant that shows up that you didn’t sow. 🌿

It might be a lone tomato from last years plantings, cucumber sprouts from the trenching, alyssum popping up from plants last year… you will be out in the garden doing some weeding or harvesting and – ‘heeeey, hello, how did you get here’ ☺️

a volunteer silverbeet in our garden
Turning over this bed, discovered a volunteer silverbeet. No idea where he came from…

If you choose trenching to bring vital organics into your soil, then kitchen vegie scraps will be the first thing to go in. As your skills increase, you’ll add more and more – digging in leftovers from the finished crop in that bed and other organic additives from your yard, like ash, dry leaves, and lots more. One of the marvellous consequences of all that good stuff are the communities of vegie volunteers that will sprout from nowhere. Last year, our pumpkins, golden cherry toms, sunflowers, rocket, parsley, coriander, all manner of flowers, gerkins, purslane, warrigal greens and rockmelon all came as volunteers to help out. No offers were refused 😉

This week’s trenching with last month’s cucumber leftovers sprouting already. It’s too cold for cucumbers now but we will grow these to about 5cm high, then chop and add to a salad. YUM.

Some volunteers can stay in-situ, some may need moving to another spot, and some may bring so many friends, you just have to dig most in. That’s okay – more organics in the soil is a good thing. If you want to get really tricky, you can even trench some likely candidates into garden beds knowing they will likely come up. It is only one small step away from saving and growing your own seed, except with none of the effort and all of the surprise.

Look out for Volunteers at your place. If you have started Trenching, then they are not far away 💚

Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿

planting seeds, seedlings or potted

Seeds, seedlings or potted?

This is a very common question.
Do I plant seeds or seedlings, or even purchase larger plants in pots? The answer is predictably – it depends..
Here is the skinny on each, and why you might choose them.

Seeds are…

  • Cheap -by the packet, home grown, swapped or gifted, seeds are by far the cheapest way to grow veg.
  • Varied -companies that produce seedlings cannot possibly grow on every variety so they usually pick a few favs and keep the rest seed. You can try a few different varieties from seed and see which perform best for you.
  • Abundant -you’ll either end up with not all coming up, and no real loss, or they all come up and you’ve got a bonanza to use/share, to eat and to go to seed again.
  • Adaptable -seedlings from a different part of the country to you may not thrive at first, but if you use seed, you can select the strongest and dig in the rest without drama. You can also grow them on to produce their own seed, thereby acclimatising them to your local conditions. It takes about three years of sowing and saving seed to narrow the field down to those that will thrive at your place.

Some plants do not like to be disturbed once in the ground, so they may struggle if planted out by seedling or larger plants. For these veggies, best to use seed if you can:
CARROTS and other root veg, BEANS and other legumes, and PUMPKIN love direct sowing into the bed with seed.
There are others, but these are the main contenders.

Seedlings are…

  • Convenient -you can certainly grow your own seedlings, but buying them at a nursery is super easy and handy.
  • Safe -the most tender stage of the plants life has been spent in protected conditions so the success rate is high. This is also great for areas of early frost – you can begin them from seed in trays inside in the warm and by the time they are seedlings, you can plant out, having skipped the danger period.
  • Selected -only the most successful and easy varieties make it to sell as seedlings, so ones you buy in punnets are likely to be the least troublesome to grow. 

Some veg absolutely thrive from seedlings, and aren’t bothered by the transplanting. Examples are: BEETROOT (even though it’s a root veg), CORN and TOMATO, amongst others. We can chat about how to grow your own seedlings another time 🙂

Potted are…

  • Fast – weeks of growth and care have been done for you, which can be helpful if you have missed the start of the season, and also if you like to stagger your planting so not all the toms come on at once – it can be very smart to plant seeds, seedlings and potted in the same bed to really emend the harvest period. If you have children it can be satisfying to see some fruitful results quickly too.
  • Forgiving -large tougher plants can be a great way to kickstart your vegetable growing experience, skipping the ‘puppy’ stage.
  • Hardy -a head start may sound like cheating -haha- but in fact if you have heavy frost well into the growing season and no greenhouse, or a planting has been ruined by harsh conditions, it may be a godsend to just hold off and start with a more mature plant that has hardened off already. It also has a better chance of withstanding the attention of pests.

Some wonderfully productive plants do super well from pots, and even kept in larger pots for their full season. TOMATO, CAPSICUM, ZUCCHINI, CUCUMBER, HERBS of course, STRAWBERRIES and BLUEBERRIES.

So, when choosing your veggies each season, consider the flexibility these choices give you – to stagger harvest, time results, respond to the seasons and overall make the most of your resources and opportunities.

Look wide, grow well, folks 🌿

Garden Haiku

Haiku, more than just poems

Haiku are Japanese poems that don’t rhyme.
They have three lines. The first line has 5 syllables, the second has 7 , and the last one has 5 syllables again. They are about things you see around you, and about observing the seasons.

Haiku in the garden are valuable. They help us to slow down, to be still and quiet for a moment, and feel the season. They are the beginning of a conversation with the place where we grow – for some folks a vehicle for meditation; for others, a bit of seasonal fun.

autumn haiku
early Autumn Haiku

My niece is a busy bee. She is a thinker, a writer and a doer – a real little dynamo. Sometimes she has trouble slowing down, and that can be tricky to curb as we get older. Time to intervene 😉 A new little haiku journal and a few quick pointers, and she is away. Already, we have some real gems of writing and quiet spells amongst busy fulfilling days.

spring haiku
Spring Haiku in our garden

Here are some haiku tips for young poets in the garden:

Count the syllables (word sounds) on your fingers
Take opportunities to sit in nature and notice things amongst the quiet that remind you of the season.
Write not type so as to give the moment tactile expression. It can be in a journal or just a note.
Write in pencil so you can change words if you’d like. Pencil also lasts forever and won’t hurt your book.
Just three lines can help you imagine a whole scene. A good haiku helps you guess the season and the feeling of the moment.
Read the lines out loud to hear the syllables.
Express how you feel, within yourself, or in the world.
Share your thoughts, by reading them to family, tying them on tags to a tree in the garden, or sending in the mail, oldeschoole.

Haiku is a beautiful skill for life.

Summer haiku
Summer Haiku