Sunday, August 31, 2014
Sunday Reading - The Benefit of a Volunteer Garden
One of the best parts about the on going. year after year garden in my opinion are the volunteer plants. I have gotten to the point of weeding religiously through the month of June and if I spot a plant I recognize as not a weed I pretty much just let it go. However after about June I get so tired of weeding and the plants are usually so well established I just kinda blow off weeding.
A Big reason for this is because the bees are usually kicking into high gear then and require a lot more work but the heat also keeps me from caring if the weeds grow or not. The constant grass mowing gets old and endless weeding on top of everything just keeps getting pushed back.
Who cares? It doesn't seem to effect my production levels much as my plants are already way ahead of the new weeds. The little side benefit is I get all kinds of volunteers I hadn't counted on too.
This evening's pickings are all from volunteer plants I didn't put in myself this year. Another five gallon bucket full of Cowpeas in their shell and a box of Tomatoes that have all grown in the Watermelon patch that was killed off by the Squash bugs. I started off picking the Cowpeas and then mixed in with their dried pods I begin noticing Orange/Yellow Tomatoes. I had just been complaining about the fact that I forgot to plant any Orange or Yellows this year because I really like them and surprise I got some anyway.
The truth is I have added more than one good variety of plant to my line up simply because it fit so well that it became a permanent feature all on it's own.
That bucket of Cowpeas is a prime example of volunteers that defied the odds, and my ignorance, to become a regular garden planting. The first time I put them in was 2011 and I wasn't all that impressed with their yield. The thing is they kept coming back and then I noticed they also seemed to prefer being planted much closer together than recommended.
Once a volunteer keeps coming back I certainly take notice because in my opinion a plant that likes the location well enough to constantly reproduce on it's own is the type of plant you want to get very familiar with.
How many tales of off grid, long term survival have I read about that included a bad growing year followed by glorious volunteers the next year that saved the day? I can think of a few off the top of my head and the first that comes to mind was that Fundamentalist Russian Family that moved off into the forest and had no outside contact for decades.
Volunteer plants can save your life and put you back into the garden business once again even in a total off grid situation.
The down side to volunteers? Well now I have another box of Tomatoes to prep, dice and find a place to store em. What a pain :)
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!