One of the advantages of having living organic soil is that you get a lot of “volunteers.” By volunteers I mean desirable plants that sprout entirely on their own from old seed lying in the soil. The seeds wait for mild weather before they germinate.
I discover some of my most productive volunteers in the herb garden. I regularly see seedlings of basil, Thai basil, dill and cilantro coming up where I least expect them. If I like where they are, I leave them in place. If they’re in a bad spot, then I just transplant them.
I also get blessed with a whole group of vegetable volunteers: green onions, pak choi, red leaf amaranth, New Zealand spinach and tomatoes. I deliberately spread around the seeds from all these volunteers (except the tomatoes) so I don’t know if they’re volunteers in the truest sense of the term.
Whenever I see a tomato volunteer I uproot it. You never know what kind of tomato you are going to get with volunteers. I think tomatoes are too labor intensive to waste time and resources on a volunteer that could turn out to be a dud.
I also have to thin out a lot of the red leaf amaranth. I just don’t have enough room to accommodate the dozens of amaranth volunteers.
Another vegetable volunteer that I see frequently are boniato sprouts (slips). A boniato is a Cuban sweet potato which is less sweet than our sweet potato and which has a cream-colored flesh. Boniato is ideally suited for our climate. It grows well with very little care from spring all the way to the first hard freeze.
In the spring I take the boniato slips that sprout up from old pieces of tuber and I replant them (initially) into one gallon containers. They take root very quickly and provide me with a boniato crop for the new season.
Every day in the garden is a little bit like Christmas morning. You never know what new presents you’re going to receive.
What volunteers do you have growing in your garden? Please let us know by adding a comment.