Self-seeded feverfew grows well in my garden
While many gardeners, myself included, carefully sow seeds in straight rows in the garden, fret over seedlings in trays and mutter when seeds take longer to sprout than expected, nature seems to scoff at all the fuss.
Every year, anywhere seeds have landed in the garden, nature will casually grow plants with no fussing over frost cloth, water or germination temperatures. Some may die and some may get frosted but the majority survive and, in our garden at least, generally go on to become great, hardy plants.
While I might mutter at the underground spreading habits of couch grass, I applaud my raspberry plants for doing the same, as we have an abundance of raspberry plants for little financial outlay. Now we have enough, my friends benefit from these free plants.
Speaking of the raspberry garden, I've just transplanted about 20 self-seeded silver beet seedlings into the front of the netted raspberry enclosure. This should ensure we have enough silver beet for us and the chooks for months to come.
I've moved the plants in there because there is a large gang of sparrows living in the area who believe silver beet is planted specifically for them. I wouldn't mind, but they leave it looking as if a plague of locusts has been through the garden.
Over winter, even though greens were sparse, the chooks looked at me in disgust when I tossed the battered silver beet remains into their run.
We had a better supply of greens the previous winter, mainly because half of one garden plot was devoted to self-seeded kale plants, which flourished all season. This was partly because while I and the chooks love the stuff, the sparrows tend to share the other half's opinion an occasional feed is all you need.
Fortunately, he doesn't feel the same way about tomatoes, because I usually have enough tomato plants to supply us all summer and to freeze for a year-round supply.
This isn't because I plan for this, but because every year I forget that for almost every tomato seedling I grow, the garden will produce a self-seeded one, which, when it grows large enough, I'll transplant into my tomato patch.
Last autumn when I found an old, well-sprouted bag of home-grown spuds in the pantry cupboard I decided to help nature along. I poked all the spuds into the fresh layer of mulch in the orchard and left them to it. When we had a spell of frosts a couple of weeks back, I dumped an armload of loose hay across their flourishing foliage and walked away.
They're looking great, and will be a far earlier crop of spuds than the ones in the garden with their nice layer of well-matured chook manure and straw.
The runner beans along the orchard fence are another testament to nature and I helping one another out when I get tired of eating them I leave the seed pods to grow and dry. Each spring I pull the dried remains of the plants off the fence, break open a few pods and poke the beans into the ground, then walk away and ignore them until summer, by which time they're producing pods for me again.
Herbs are great self-seeders too. I have one chive plant that has never died back in winter you guessed it; it self-seeded in the corner of a garden bed. It grew quite large and I've left it there because it discourages the dogs from cutting the corner across the garden when running round the paths chasing interesting sniffs. Last season I collected seeds from this chive plant and plan to grow its progeny in the herb garden this year.
The feverfew plant I picked up as a tiny potted seedling is now a large bushy plant, and when its seeds sprout, I give them away to friends.
Another hardy self-sprouter is the Italian flat-leaf parsley that had self-seeded and was growing by the path between the carport and the kitchen. While I once found this patch of parsley as handy as the herb garden when I was preparing a meal, particularly over winter when my other parsley plants die back, my feelings changed abruptly when I discovered the dog using the area as his personal urinal.
My outraged bellows obviously worked as I haven't seen him near there since then but I just can't bring myself to pick from that patch again. However, it did motivate me to transplant the newest seedlings into the herb garden; an area the dog understands no hairy-pawed creature may venture, regardless of circumstances.
Despite my observations on nature's methods, I continue to fret over seedlings and sow straight rows of seeds. One thing I don't do though, is hasten to pull out plants that have gone to seed, or weed out the resulting seedlings. It's my way of ensuring that nature continues to help me out.