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Self-seeding vegetables  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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if you are sheet mulching/composting you are replenishing the nutrients needed with your top dressing..the only things I rotate are anuals that don't self seed..obviously self seeding will not be where you intend it to be unless you are gathering the seeds and putting them where you choose.
 
Posts: 202
Location: Zone 5b - 6a, Missouri Ozarks
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I am top composting in the veggie gardens and starting beds that will be sheet mulched as soon as I shut down the current compost pile. 
 
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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But what about nutrient drain?  Do you have to know that for tomatoes, for example, they'll need more X this year because they've been in this spot for X years?  I thought that was more the reason for rotating.  This plant will deplete the Calcium, Nitrogen or whatever from this spot. 



once again, in a monoculture system. yes this would be a big problem.

yet in a poly culture system. some plants collect certain minerals and when they decompose the minerals are released. now some plants collect these minerals from the sub soil. where most of the "washed out" nutrients go. they bring them in there leaves, which decompose and replenish the topsoil. the more diversity you have the more nutrients and minerals you have cycling through your soil. the less of a problem you have on build up of one, and the loss of another.

that being said if somethings just not there, its not going to appear out of no where. outside sources could be needed at first to get the cycle going.
 
Jamie Jackson
Posts: 202
Location: Zone 5b - 6a, Missouri Ozarks
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Well I sure appreciate all the input.  I"m trying hard to build the right kind of system.
 
Posts: 22
Location: zone 6b in upper east Tennessee
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Mike Turner wrote:One of the hallmarks of a Fukuoka style vegetable garden is that many (most) of the vegetables self-seed themselves and eventually evolve into half-wild landraces adapted to the local growing conditions and pests.

That's the direction I have been taking my South Carolina zone 7 garden, allowing strong, healthy specimens of non-hybrid vegetable plants to scatter seed for the next generation of veggies.  I'm trying to build up the population of dormant veggie seeds in the soil so an increasing proportion of the "weed" seedlings that pop up in the beds will be half-wild vegetables. 

So far, I have had great success with carrots, seed matured and scattered in late spring remains dormant all through the heat of the summer and germinates when the temps cool off in late summer.

Lemon cucumber is also self seedling well, this summer's lemon cuc production was all produced by self sown seedlings that came up at the proper time in the spring for cucs to start growing and beat all of my seeded cucs to maturity.

Matt's Wild Cherry tomato has completely naturalized in my garden, coming up everywhere.  I just weed them out from whichever parts of the garden that I don't want cherry tomatoes to grow.  They have even spread into the local pasture where they provide quick snacks when I pass by.  They also come up in the cold frames and grow slowly all winter long producing by far my earliest spring tomatoes, weeks ahead of the transplanted tomatoes.

Leaf amaranth is another that I haven't had to seed for the last few years, coming up every spring on its own and corn salad, its winter counterpart, does the same in the fall for winter greens.

Lettuce is starting to become a self-sown half-wild winter annual in the garden, producing some interesting variants as it adapts to local conditions.  Last winter one lettuce plant went through 8F lows unprotected with no damage and turned into a monster in the spring, producing seven 5 to 8 feet high flowering stalks in late spring/early summer.  Its progeny are starting to pop up now around the garden.

Seminole winter squash/pumpkin self seeds and it is just a matter of thinning the many seedlings down to those plants I allow to grow to maturity.

I have started domesticating wild garlic in my garden for use in the fall and winter, taking advantage of a hardy edible weed.

Other then that, I had some self-seeding success with pole beans, cowpeas, adzuki beans, and various types of onions (green ,bulbing, anual, and perennial).

It'll be interesting to see where this experiment goes, but its getting to the point where many of the seedlings that appear in a bed when I harvest or remove a crop are self sown vegetables whose seeds are released from dormancy along with the weeds once the root competition of the extablished crop is removed.



Mike, I'd be interested to know how your ongoing self-seeding experiments are progressing...
 
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
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Well then, just toss the tomatoes you are going to let self-seed where you want them next year. Also, seeds tend to wash around, finding their way across the garden [I have NO idea where the volunteer squash came from, the dirt was under cement last year until well after planting]. Another thing you can do is interplant species that provide each other with the nutrients they need. Beans (nitrogen fixer) with corn (heavy feeder) for instance. And interplant things like marigolds with tomatoes, marigolds help ward off pests and disease from the tomatoes. Plants are more likely to get disease after growing in one spot for too long for two reasons: Diseased plant material carelessly left/dropped. Lack of nutrition. Heavy feeders do well with occasional applications of manure or other fertilizer. In poor soils, or disease-ridden areas, rotating crops is a very smart thing to do. On the other hand, well-mulched soil is much happier soil than bare soil, and chop and drop methods are basically mulch. Self-seeding things work best if you have a plan OR if you are a laid-back sort who just goes around whatever with cheerful complaisance. Most gardeners have a goal of the garden feeding them, and will harvest most of what grows. That leaves only a few self-seeding fruits/seed heads and those can be plucked off and tossed where wanted for the next year, when ripe.
 
Posts: 1113
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I had not heard of Fukuoka until I came to this forum but this self-seeding is something we've used for decades. We're in zone 3, maybe 4ish in some spots, here in Vermont. We get lots of self-seeding, even tomatoes. What I don't need I let bolt (go to seed). They produce seed that then grows in the next cycle (next year for us here in Vermont). We seeded about 70 acres with rape, kale, turnips, beets, radishes, pumpkins, sunflowers, sunchokes. Now many of those are reseeding themselves year after year. This saves me work and money while making our pastures richer. The livestock tend to nibble on the leaves of the plants during the summer leaving the tubers. They also don't tend to bother squash and pumpkin plants. Sunflowers and sunchokes they'll go for. Then in the fall they eat the squashes, pumpkins and tubers they can get in their winter paddock areas. Tubers that are under deep snow survive and grow again the next year as perennials. To some degree we control their eating of the crops by moving them through fields but there are also a lot of these plants that are simply doing well out in the pastures. The seeds the animals eat mostly pass through them and start new plants the next year in rich piles of dung.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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every spring I am fascinated by what self seeded, either plants or by the birds and animals that brought them in. I go around and look for baby plants that I might want to keep, move, etc..This year I moved a whole lot of self seeded maple trees and white pines..to a place where I wanted those to grow. I am allowing my 4 year old swiss chard to go to seed this year, it is in my greenhouse. Also severl lettuces bolted early this year, so they are going to reseed my gardens (still wondering i some of my wierd plants in the garden aren't ancestors of lettuces and cole crops, need to identfy them)
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1113
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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One of the things I figure is that those varieties that go to seed or otherwise survive our winters and thrive in our short summers are the ones I want to grow. Thus with each seed saving, whether I gather seeds and sow them or they reseed themselves I'm improving the variety for my local climate to get better and better plants. Same goes for our breeding of livestock.
 
steward
Posts: 3086
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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Lambsquarters is my go-to cooking green, and it grows completely independently from my management. I go out and cut a few plants every morning for my omelet. I got a little snipping tool from Lee Valley that speeds up the removal of the leaves from the stems.

You don't have to cook it--it tastes remarkably like spinach raw. I've had it in a salad, just tossed with other salad greens and also julienned along with kale in a "massaged" salad.

Lambsquarters also makes great "chips," a la kale chips. You just stack them in a small bowl, add some oil and use your hands to get a think coating of oil on each leaf. Then you spread them out (ideally on a rack on a pan) and sprinkle with salt. Bake them in the oven at 250 to 350 (your choice--I like the lower temp, but my oven has a fan to speed things up) and they are delicious.

Here in Wisconsin, it shows up on all disturbed soil on my property. The chickens love it, the rabbits love it and I love it. It will get over 6 feet tall if left alone in a nice spot. Once it is huge and mature, the seeds can also be harvested, although I've only ever given them to my chickens I know they are good people food as well.
 
gardener
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Rose of Sharon, Mimosa and Box Elder.
All have edible bits, one is a nitrogen fixer, so I let them live and become living lattice. If they get out of control, I strip the leaves.
I expiramented this year with the "whole foods garden" , was which is handfuls of seeds crom the bulk isle at whole foods. Mostly the black eyed peas have won the most square feet, gets along well with the tomatoes, which coincidently came from a friends compost vollenteers.
In other beds, buckwheat , radishes, turnips, and chickpeas are going to seed.
I hope they sprout next spring!
 
pollinator
Posts: 415
Location: Upstate SC
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Jamie Jackson wrote:But what about nutrient drain?  Do you have to know that for tomatoes, for example, they'll need more X this year because they've been in this spot for X years?  I thought that was more the reason for rotating.  This plant will deplete the Calcium, Nitrogen or whatever from this spot. 



Nutrient drain isn't a problem since many to most of the self-seedlings pop up in different locations of the garden from where their parents grew.

Plants currently self-seeding in my garden to the point where I haven't had to plant any seed for years: current tomato, parsnips, chicory, purple sprouting broccoli, collards, okra, Seminole squash. I've also established lamb's quarters as the most common weed appearing in the garden so the pulled weeds can go in salads or soup when they come up in beds where I don't want them to grow. They are easy to pull and outcompete "useless" weeds that might have come up in their place.

Plants self-seeding to some extent, but still require external seedling to maintain populations: miner's lettuce, lettuce, corn salad, yard long beans, pole beans, cucumbers.
I suspect the potatoes have been self-seeding somewhat since small potato plants have appeared in parts of the garden not close to previous year's plantings.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1170
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Every year I get all sorts of volunteer plants coming up all over the food forest:

Cherry tomatoes.

Fennel.

Various leaf lettuces.

Daikon radish (and every other radish).

Sweet potatoes. These are practically invasive—they come up from little runners that don't get dug up.

Regular potatoes.

Pumpkins.

Carrots.

Ginger. OK -- this is because a little chunk of ginger will often be left in the ground when you harvest.

Chaya (if you leave chaya stikes/stalks laying on the soil surface).

Gourds (not a veggie, but a volunteer every year).

Sunflowers.

Arugula.

Part of the reason I get so many of these coming up as volunteers is because I'll let a quarter or more of my crop go to seed. Then you just snap the head off a carrot (for example) and thresh the seed out by rubbing it between your hand. Because everything is so heavily mulched, and that mulch gets kicked around, disturbed, turned by possums and raccoons . . . stuff gets turned into the soil and constantly is sprouting.

One year I got 14 watermelon off of one volunteer watermelon plant.


 
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Mike Turner wrote:Plants self-seeding to some extent, but still require external seedling to maintain populations: miner's lettuce, lettuce, corn salad, yard long beans, pole beans, cucumbers.



What do You mean by this "require external seedling"?
 
Posts: 31
Location: Shepherdstown, WV
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This has been on my mind since I recently moved and I am starting over this year. I was growing at my last home for four years, and was so happy with many self-seeding annuals that popped up every year. We ate a lot and just left some in the garden to come up if and where it pleased. Some of my favorites were:

Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry
Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato
Skyscraper Sunflower
Wild Arugula
Sugar Baby Watermelon
Borage
Cilantro
Calendula
 
Posts: 47
Location: The Netherlands
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Jerusalem artichoke is an excellent self seeder, it is so efficient that it is advised to keep it in a separate pot/plot because it might just self-seed a bit too much and spread through the entire garden.
 
Posts: 41
Location: under a foil hat
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I may have missed it as I skimmed this thread quickly, but I didn't see anyone mention salsify. I don't let it "self seed" as it would dominate our small property being SO resilient. Rather, once it goes to seed I grab the seed heads and throw them where I want the next scattered planting. Works great on patches of "lawn" where I'm not supposed to grow food in the suburbs. Dandelions, plantain, lamb's quarters also work in this fashion.
 
Posts: 430
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Sometimes a story of something done wrong can help others avoid a foolish mistake.  This is a story of my own foolishness and a friends intelligence.

Several years ago I bought a few triple crown blackberry plants (a trailing blackberry, thornless with big, deliciously sweet berries).  I planted these down by my pond (I figured I wouldn't need to water them there and I'ld let them grow 'naturally') and kind of forgot about them.  Each spring I would wander down to my patch and dig up new plants (from where the trailing ends come down to the ground) for anyone who wanted some.  Come July I would wander down and pick a few gallons of blackberries.  Other than that, I completely ignored them.  I try to justify myself that at the time I had 17 people living in the house, and was busy as a one legged man in a butt kicking contest, but it was probably mostly laziness on my part.

Contrast that to my friend.  My friend was putting in a community garden a few years ago and he asked me one spring for 100 blackberry plants.  I dug up 100 good strong new plants in the spring with maybe a gallon and a half of dirt and roots each.  He planted these plants in rows, with the plants five feet apart, heavily wood chip mulched and on a good trellis system and has really been concientious (he and 4 or 5 other men have cared for the these and the rest of the community garden and do an amazing job).  I ran into him yesterday (we only run into each other occasionally).  He's expanding his blackberries into 4 more rows and I asked how many blackberries they got last year.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when his wife answered "a little over 100 gallons.  My black berry patch is getting too big and starting to move into my orchard and I'm only getting a few gallons each year.  (I'm hoping part of the difference is that the possums, deer and racoons are harvesting my patch pretty heavily, while my friends community garden is not near woods and he shot the rabbits that ate all his blackberry vines the first winter).

Lesson learned!  It's not necessarily bad to do things "naturally", but sometimes that just translates to "lazy and foolish".  

This week I'm repenting of my laziness and starting a trellising system and moving a bunch of my blackberries to an area less vulnerable to wildlife and where I can treat them more like a crop and less like wildcrafting.  Once I get it put in I doubt I'll have to spend much time each year but I'll have a way more productive than my current system.
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 430
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lambs quarters comes up heavily each spring in my garden.  I purposely leave a few to go to seed.  My wife, who has a much more finely tuned pallete than I do, prefers young lambs quarters to any domestic greens we grow or buy.  We steam them and eat them with a little butter and salt.

Cat tails shoots in the spring are really nice (taste like cucumber).  Break them off as low as you can and peel the outer leaves until you get to tender stuff.  We eat them raw.  Think about the water quality of where you are getting them.  

I hope one day to have a spot I can have a cat tail patch where it won't spread.  I understand there is a hybrid variety that only spreads by the roots, so that should be containable, although "mostly sterile" sounds like the lead in line to some kind of comedy or bad joke.  ("Mostly dead is different than all the way dead.  Mostly dead is still a little alive.  When someone's all the way dead, well, there's usually only one thing you can do.  Go through his pockets and look for loose change."  One of my favorite lines from "The Princess Bride".)

This concept of self seeding in a garden really has me excited.  If you have enough room for a bed to not be in constant production it could really reduce the work!
 
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