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climate zone effects on self seeding plants

 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1225
Location: Denver, CO
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I like eating arugula, and I generally plant it in the spring. Two years ago, once it got tough and bitter tasting, I let it flower and go to seed. The seeds were produced in the late summer, due to the fact that I cut to down a couple of times. These seeds sprouted in the spring, and went to seed again, but this time the mature seed was scattered a little earlier. Because of this, they germinated in the Fall, and the plants overwintered. Now, I've got battered plants quickly bolting to seed after their winter dormancy, thus producing little food. I suppose the seeds from this batch will germinate in late spring, when the weather conditions are even less likely to favor good tasting arugula.

So what can I do? Should I just slash them down every year until late summer so that they seedlings come up next spring? Will this eventually shift the gene pool? Or should I let the wild population do whatever it wants, and leave it alone as bee forage and a pretty flowering plant, while planting a batch of arugula for consumption every year?

Adding to the problem, our weather is so erratic that February is often warm and dry while April and May can be cold and wet.
 
Steven Kovacs
Posts: 202
Location: Western Massachusetts (USDA zone 5a, heating zone 5, 40"+)
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:So what can I do? Should I just slash them down every year until late summer so that they seedlings come up next spring? Will this eventually shift the gene pool? Or should I let the wild population do whatever it wants, and leave it alone as bee forage and a pretty flowering plant, while planting a batch of arugula for consumption every year?


Do you have enough to try an all-of-the-above strategy to see what works?  Cut some down every year until late summer, let some bolt when they want, and plant some more each spring.  The more variants you try the more likely that at least one of them will give you what you want.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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One of the things you might try is to collect the seed instead of letting it scatter on its own. That way you can start them indoors for planting out at the right time.

It is very hard, in this changing time, to let plants that you want for tender greens produce via nature's ways.
The seasons are shifting but not staying in any particular place, this makes it hard on everything to grow when they used to.

Redhawk
 
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