Monday, September 28, 2009
I am reaping the rewards of being lazy! It is a great kind of reward to get. Years ago, I discovered (by accident) if I did not pull out my arugula, it set seed and sowed itself, germinating at the perfect time in the fall- when it was ready, not when I planted it. I got lovely fall arugula...indeed, it was nicer arugula than I usually got when I planted it in the fall (see an example in the photo above).
I like frisee, a type of bitter salad green, akin to endive. So, last year I also let it set seeds (bonus: nice blue, chickory-like flowers) and, voila I had fall frisee and frisee in the spring too. OK, it is not always where I intend it to be, sometimes growing in the path. So I either transplant it, or avoid that part of the path.
I do this now with other plants, usually letting at least one plant set seed. These include cilantro, lemon and lime basil, kale, mustard, petunias, sunflowers, marigolds and parsley (this is a biannual, so it sets seed its second year). Seeds I do not let grow include tomato (I get too many seedlings and the disease-resistant hybrids I tend to use do not come true from their seed) and any plant where setting seed will take away from the fruit or veg I want to eat (alliums, beets, carrots-also supposed to seed in the second year, but sometimes tries to do it in the first year). I have even let pumpkin vines snake out of the compost heap, but you never know what you are going to get- one year it was a lot of tiny, ornamental pumpkins, another year, small pie pumpkins.
One helpful skill to have is the ability to recognize desirable versus undesirable seedlings. This came to me naturally over the years, as I sowed seeds and observed what the seedlings looked like. This way, you can remove competing weeds before they get big, and care for the edible plants you want.
So, this is one case where laziness is a good gardening technique!