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Volunteering Vegetables -- The squash that won't go away...  RSS feed

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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A few growing seasons ago a volunteer squash appeared in my garden. It was a hybrid of unknown parentage. It was a pepo, so a nice summer squash. The thing that stood out about it was that it was super early and super vigorous. I kept it emasculated all summer long so that it could be pollinated with crookneck squash.

I saved the seeds from it intending to do a plant breeding project with it... I grew out the seeds last summer, and saved seeds from the fruits I liked, but didn't get them re-planted this spring. No worries, the plant reseeded itself. Wow! What a gloriously worthwhile trait: Self-seeding squash.

I ate squash from the plants for super tonight. It's the first squash from my garden.

And now the goals of the project have changed... Instead of re-selecting for crookneck shaped squash, I intend to select for volunteerism... A squash that I don't have to save seeds from and that will still show up in the garden year after year could be really clever. Especially if I can hold onto the earliness and vigor.

How about it? Anyone else have a vegetable that volunteers every year?



 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1275
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Nice. How do you cook yours?

Side note: your landrace thread has me NOT caging my tomatoes. Guess what, they're flopping over and then growing straight back up. One in particular is doing a marvelous job of supporting itself. Thanks for the inspiration!

Another side note: I have a lettuce that's been volunteering for 3 years now. It always amazes me.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I have a limited repertoire for cooking squash, or any vegetable. They either get stir-fried, or added to a soup. Summer squash are typically fried in butter on high heat so that they scorch. Mmmm.

I have lettuce in my garden that volunteers every year. I first remember it in my daddy's garden when I was a child.

The tomatillos, and Swiss chard volunteer. Turnips often do.

I keep trying to select for volunteer tomatoes, but alas that one still eludes me.
 
raven ranson
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

I keep trying to select for volunteer tomatoes, but alas that one still eludes me.


We gotta talk.

One of my biggest most annoying 'weeds' are the volunteer tomatoes. One variety in particular is especially enthusiastic about volunteering, it even has some of the seed dormancy mechanisms like wild plants. Last year's plants were very popular with the bees. It's usually my earliest producer and a heavy cropper until the first hard frost. 20 foot spread, tiny tomatoes, but no bug or disease problems... yet, drought tolerant, and most importantly, TASTES GREAT FRESH OR DRY! There are so many things I love about this tomato, I am getting very excited about potential breeding projects.

I received the seed from my local seed library (pdf link). From their catalogue:

These tomatoes have an exceptionally sweet and rich flavour, especially for their size.
Because of their blight resistance they continue producing fruit long after other tomatoes.
Origin
It dates back at least to the 1880’s in the USA and originates in Hidalgo State,
Mexico. The Victoria Seed Library received these seeds in 2014 from the Seed
and Plant Sanctuary for Canada.
Growing
They can become huge - even up to 13 feet tall in the right conditions, so their
climbing vines need to be well supported. Time to maturity ≈53 days (to eat)



I usually just give each plant a tomato cage, they climb up through it, over it, and along the ground for about 10 to 15 feet in all direction. The only reason I use the cage is so I can know where to put water, not that it ever seems to want any.



This self seeding squash project is very interesting. We've had cucumbers volunteer before, but that was more a result of the human behaviour rather than the plant's. My grandfather use to pick the over-ripe cucumbers, put them on the ground, stomp on them in anger, then the seeds would dry down and hibernate until spring. It sure would be neet to have a squash that would self seed without so much intervention.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1275
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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R Ranson wrote:
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

I keep trying to select for volunteer tomatoes, but alas that one still eludes me.


We gotta talk.

One of my biggest most annoying 'weeds' are the volunteer tomatoes. One variety in particular is especially enthusiastic about volunteering, it even has some of the seed dormancy mechanisms like wild plants. Last year's plants were very popular with the bees. It's usually my earliest producer and a heavy cropper until the first hard frost. 20 foot spread, tiny tomatoes, but no bug or disease problems... yet, drought tolerant, and most importantly, TASTES GREAT FRESH OR DRY! There are so many things I love about this tomato, I am getting very excited about potential breeding projects.

I received the seed from my local seed library (pdf link). From their catalogue:

These tomatoes have an exceptionally sweet and rich flavour, especially for their size.
Because of their blight resistance they continue producing fruit long after other tomatoes.
Origin
It dates back at least to the 1880’s in the USA and originates in Hidalgo State,
Mexico. The Victoria Seed Library received these seeds in 2014 from the Seed
and Plant Sanctuary for Canada.
Growing
They can become huge - even up to 13 feet tall in the right conditions, so their
climbing vines need to be well supported. Time to maturity ≈53 days (to eat)



I usually just give each plant a tomato cage, they climb up through it, over it, and along the ground for about 10 to 15 feet in all direction. The only reason I use the cage is so I can know where to put water, not that it ever seems to want any.



This self seeding squash project is very interesting. We've had cucumbers volunteer before, but that was more a result of the human behaviour rather than the plant's. My grandfather use to pick the over-ripe cucumbers, put them on the ground, stomp on them in anger, then the seeds would dry down and hibernate until spring. It sure would be neet to have a squash that would self seed without so much intervention.


I do believe we may have to have a tomato seed swap. Your tomato sounds AMAZING!
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I have a limited repertoire for cooking squash, or any vegetable. They either get stir-fried, or added to a soup. Summer squash are typically fried in butter on high heat so that they scorch. Mmmm.

I have lettuce in my garden that volunteers every year. I first remember it in my daddy's garden when I was a child.

The tomatillos, and Swiss chard volunteer. Turnips often do.

I keep trying to select for volunteer tomatoes, but alas that one still eludes me.



mmmm sounds like good squash. I will have to try it.
 
Russell Olson
Posts: 184
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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Volunteer vegetables is one of the things that got me interested in permaculture.
I got ground cherries/tomatillos coming up all over the place and was reminded of the work I had put into growing tomatillos from seed indoors, transplanting, etc.

Now I also get turnips, radishes, mustards, lettuce, chamomile, asparagus, and the occasional squash, tomato, or other random.
I had a chamomile plant overwinter here and it turned into a monster. I hope it self seeds little monsters all over the place for me.
I even had volunteer buckwheat show up this summer.

I've noticed that obviously sheet mulching and other soil disturbances tend to reduce self seeding things. I haven't seen any ground cherries yet, which could be due to last fall's garden improvements.

I'm also optimistic on a volunteer squash that came up exactly where I would want it to from chicken bedding I used in a sheet mulched bed. I believe it's a Tennessee sweet potato heirloom type that has been a good yielder for me.

 
chip sanft
Posts: 380
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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We also have volunteer tomatoes. They are so enthusiastic they even show up in places nowhere near where they've ever been planted. I presume birds and/or beasts are carrying them around. They are a small "wild type" tomato -- very small, very productive, very tasty. I'd be glad to share / trade -- send me a message if you're interested.
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 324
Location: Upstate SC
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Veggies that volunteer reliably around here are okra, current tomatoes, tomatillo, chicory, purple sprouting broccoli, collards, kale, moschata squash, Cucuzzi edible gourd, asparagus, corn salad, and Jerusalem artichoke. Fruits that volunteer easily here are peaches, plums, apples, muscadines, and persimmons.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
Posts: 199
Location: Officially Zone 7a, nearer 6b, SW Tennessee
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"One of my biggest most annoying 'weeds' are the volunteer tomatoes. One variety in particular is especially enthusiastic about volunteering, it even has some of the seed dormancy mechanisms like wild plants."

Aha! Also called Matt's Wild Cherry! I love that one! It survives the first few light frosts with minimal damage at my place.
 
Kirsten Simmons
Posts: 33
Location: Atlanta, GA
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Current tomatoes are a huge volunteer for me in Atlanta - I was evicted from a garden space a few years ago, took some of the dirt I'd built with me, and had current tomatoes sprout from a pot the next spring! This year I had to pull a dozen or more from all over the (new) garden space. Next year I'll plan ahead and pot up the extras to sell on Craigslist.

Collards, kale and Jerusalem artichoke volunteer reliably enough that we've corralled them into their own spaces and let them go crazy. I've also got some lettuce that reseeds reliably, pineapple ground cherries, and buckwheat. This year we also have what looks like a volunteer spaghetti squash. I'd love to trade seeds with others who have volunteering veggies!
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 324
Location: Upstate SC
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Parsnips are also a prolific self-seeder around here. The main problem with them self-seeding in the garden is that they are a plant that causes phytophotodermatitus. This, combined with their large (8 foot high, 3 foot wide)blooming size and random placement throughout the garden, makes the garden a labyrinth to negotiate when trying to get around while avoiding contact with the plant. Sweaty skin is especially vulnerable to this dermatitis.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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For years my self seeding Italian Tree and another unnamed racket ball sized tomato fought of grape vines,sunchokes kiwi and bind weed to give me a effortless harvest.
Last year I heavily mulched that bed with fall leaves.This summer, no tomatoes,but the grapes are doing great.
My yard is swimming in torpedo radishes, which grow fast and then bolt. They get huge but are too hot to enjoy any way we have cooked them so far. Gonna try pickling them next. Mean while the greens are good and the seedpods are excellent!
 
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