Hardy Volunteers: Letting the Seeds Fall

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My goal is to have a garden that has the plants return year after year without having to buy new ones. In other words, I am looking to make the garden sustainable through hardy volunteers.

The drought may be taking its toll; the heat and humidity has made some outdoor work unbearable; yet I have been delving into my garden. The biggest project, which is still ongoing, has been the treehouse. This is a platform above the shed, which is below the canopy of a tree.  This space has been great for lunches. Most other work has revolved in preparing the garden for different events around the home (my older daughter’s birthday being the prime event).  I still want to fuss with the plants, and somehow work more towards my vision of a sustainable garden. I saw that a few peanut plants were popping up, which made me think of hardy volunteers. I had never concentrated on peanut plants, but I think this one may have come from a squirrel dropping the seed. I did have a few lettuce plants grow from seeds that had fallen, so why not try again.

    My lettuce had gone to seed. My process had been to allow the seeds fall where they may. This has worked with other plants. I found that my New Zealand spinach discovered its perfect home. When I try to encourage this spinach to grow in other areas, I often fail. The plants know best. My lettuce has not been as successful. I find it growing well in my grass, but the seedlings are trampled or mowed. Then I find a few spread through the garden beds. As I was sitting in the yard, watching the wind blow leaves past me, I thought that I should try taking the lettuce seeds off of the plant. I pulled the lettuce from the ground, stripped the seeds, spreading them into the mulch dirt mixture. My hope is that more lettuce plants will grow where I desire them to grow.
    I experienced success with this technique of encouraging seeds to produce new plants. The idea is to have my vegetables become hardy volunteers. We plant seeds at the optimal time for sowing, or we plant them when we hope to make use of them. Cilantro is my favorite example. This herb is so common in my summer cooking, but its growing season is the cooler months in Houston. No wonder my summer efforts ended in failure. I spotted arugula seedlings in one bed. I am hoping that they will last till the cooler months when I know this green will do better. The arugula must have decided the time was right, so I will see what happens.
   Lettuce has not been the only plant to undergo this experiment. Cucumber seeds have fallen, as well as eggplant. I feel that I should spread the seeds around the garden to see if I can find the best places for these vegetables. I place them where I think the conditions are proper, or where I feel they would look good. Jungles may be good, but living in a neighborhood means that I do have to nod my head to garden design. I think the success of this experiment will also rely on the right plant choice. Lettuce may grow in Houston, but the plant may not be suited for being the hardy volunteer that I hope for. That will be part of the lesson.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at yourhoustonhomeinspector.com). For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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