Volunteer Plants & Other Garden News

Volunteer Plants & Other Garden News

I was gone for a week and some weeds came up here and there – mostly just purslane and oxalis in the planting bed that has the majority of the garden – but additionally there were four weedy-looking things, three of which had gotten quite large, in the bed where we most recently buried a batch of compost. I yanked three of them out this morning and then realized I smelled a familiar smell from their foliage. I looked at the roots of the plants and realized that one still had a seed attached to it. It looked like a melon seed, which, though possible, seemed unlikely, since it’s been quite a while since I’ve bought a melon. No organic ones around in the winter, really. Then I brought the “weeds” up to my nose and gave them a good sniff, and realized I had just pulled out three pretty well-established volunteer cucumber plants. For those of you not aware of this bit of plant-relative minutiae, cucumbers are part of the melon family. Back in the ground they went, but I think I’ve done them in. I’m bummed – but there’s one left I didn’t pull out which I can tend to. And the next cucumber I buy, I’ll be sure to dry and put some of the seeds in the ground.

I’ve occasionally seen corn seedlings coming up there, also from the compost, but those I’ve just pulled up – seems like too much bother to try to get corn going. All of this may be an indication that my compost isn’t “cooking” at as high a temperature as it should be in the bin, but – oh well.

Speaking of sprouts, I tried to sprout some of my coriander seeds before I left for Chicago, thinking I might be able to get out of buying seeds or plants to put in the garden, but they didn’t germinate. I would guess that they’re irradiated. Looks like I’ll just have to buy seeds.

In other garden news, pretty much all of the tomatoes seem to have some small fruit on them now. They are still going like gangbusters. One sprouted what seems to be a new major branch while I was gone and scaled the rosebushes. I have knit it into the cage as best I can. Another is rapidly approaching the top of the privacy fence. I suspect that I was supposed to pinch these tomatoes back at some point to force more of the plants’ energy into the fruit. I may have small finished tomatoes.

One of the mystery pepper plants I got from Dovey has three good-sized banana pepper-looking fruits on it. It’s the one getting the most sun, the one that wasn’t being eaten alive by the encroaching tomatoes until I wrestled them into cages – the rest have blossoms but no obvious fruit yet, except for one very small greenish-purple pepper. The habaneros are all looking far more robust than when I left – they’ve put out a new crop of leaves and are harboring what look like the beginnings of fruit.

And what’s going on in the mint cage match, you ask? Believe it or not, the chocolate mint and the spearmint are horning in on the Italian oregano, which looks like a 90 lb. weakling in comparison. The marjoram is sending out shoots where it has been pinched, but it still is excessively leggy. I pinched back the chocolate mint again today. It’s a sneaky bugger. It had already put a runner halfway down the side of the cedar tub it’s growing in in an attempt to get into the ground. I snipped that off and a batch of other runners too. I haven’t been able to figure out much to do with the chocolate mint – every time I pinch it back, its very strong aroma convinces me that it would be great in homemade ice cream, but I lack an ice cream maker. It’s too characteristic a peppermint smell for me to want to substitute it in the places I usually use fresh spearmint.

I pinched back the basil, too – it was starting to put forward a few tops, though none of them had blossomed yet.

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