Free plants & booming veggies...

Posted October 28th, 2013 by Rob Bob : )»

Feral/volunteer veggies..
Everyone likes a freebie & gardeners are no different.. So many of us love it when Spring time rolls around, along with what we here like to call the compost lottery ;)

It always surprises me how well the feral/volunteer plants take off & quite often end up being better producers than plants we have intentionally planted out.. Most people will have had the ever present tomato, pumpkin or melon sprout from the compost/worm castings & provide them with some very tasty unexpected harvests.. Then there are the plants that will sprout from fruit that has dropped the previous season..
The 2 stand out volunteers for us this Spring would have to be the snake beans & a pumpkin that has popped up in one of the yacon beds out the front..
Over the past few seasons I have found that the volunteer bean plants will nearly always be the most healthy plants that end up yielding more beans than the ones we intentionally planted as seeds.. Last season we had a few snake bean pods that we left to ripen & dry out on the plant for future seed saving..
It was no surprise to me that some snake beans germinated in the bed from pods that had dropped a few seeds before I got a chance to harvested them..
Snake beans are a great plant to grow and there are a few reasons why we love to grow them..
They are a climbing plant that love to climb up trellises & fences, so are great in smaller gardens where you may not have a lot of ground space, or will even do well on an apartment balcony & can double as a screen or shade..
The size of the bean is another great reason. The beans themselves can grow to 40-50cm in length and we find that 6 or so of these crisp long beans are enough for a meal for our family of 4..
They have a very "fresh" flavour when eaten raw, so most of ours end up in salads.. We like to add them to stir fries & they are also very nice lightly steamed, that way the crunch is preserved.. They also make a great snack when out in the patch doing odd jobs..

We have found that volunteer pumpkins have always been the best producers for us.. The vines always grow faster & provide more fruit than any we have intentionally planted out..
This year's stunner sprouted out of some worm castings that we placed under a yacon plant in a veggie bed in the front yard.. The growth on this plant has been most impressive & it already has several swelling fruit on the vine..
Unfortunately as they are volunteers, they do not always grow where you want them too. Ours generally tend to pop up in rather inconvenient spots & proceed to take over the area. But as we get a lot of pumpkins from these type of plants, we have to just put up with it.. I am having to "manicure" this plant already, otherwise at the rate it is growing it could take over the yard in no time flat.. I am thinking I will let 6-8 fruit mature on the plant & remove all the new leaders as they sprout from the vine.. This way the plant should put all its energy into the fruit rather than front yard domination..

Growth around the patch..
Have been busy planting out more seedlings & seeds over the past few weeks along with a few other little jobbies..
The water chestnut/Kang Kong bath bed has finally been set up.. We really love using these crunchy little delicacies in many of our meals & am very egger to start cooking with them again come next Autumn.. The Kang Kong is a very versatile leafy green that loves growing in very moist conditions so thought this was probably one of the best places to plant it.. However, I had to plant it in a separate pot and bury in the bathtub as the plant has a habit of spreading very quickly if you don't keep on top of it..
The Aztec corn out the front has put on some amazing growth.. I really think they like the wicking beds :) Last week some advanced sweet corn seedlings were planted out at the request of our youngest along with some Glass Gem corn seeds.. The plan is to have the sweet corn "flower" before the Glass Gem so the 2 varieties won't cross pollinate making the seed viable for saving & sharing.. If you're interested in more information on the Glass Gem corn or to see why it is called that, go to the link..
This corn looks simply amazing..

The first of the sweet potato slips were planted out yesterday from volunteer vines we have popping up everywhere around the yard.. They have gone in bit later than I would have liked but as they grow all year here I think we should still get a great crop from them..
I have made a bit of a cage up for this barrel in the hope that we can train the vine up the wire & keep them off the path beside the house.. Last thing we need is more sweet potato popping up in the lawn.. I have found the plants do better in barrels & raised beds so hope to have a few on the go with different varieties very soon..

Over the weekend the final touches were put on the shade house for the Summer garden..
Due to the sunburn the tomatoes & capsicums suffered last year I sprung for some 30% shade cloth just to take a bit of the sting out of the sun.. It also makes a great place to have a quiet drink & rest after a hard day's work or just trying to hide from the kids for 5 minutes :D :/

That's it for the goings on in our patch.. Hope you all have a great week & managed to have a play in the garden :)
Have a great one, Rob..

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