weeds, volunteers or invasives?


dill volunteers
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volunteer squash in the onion bed anise hyssop sprouts

Some plants reseed regularly in my garden: bachelor buttons, anise hyssop, Johnny jump ups, borage, dill, ruby streaks mustard, even tomatoes and squashes. This year a few pea plants sprouted in my compost pile and last year’s potatoes sprouted in the garlic bed.

I suppose much of gardening is choosing what should grow where.

I carefully moved the dill volunteers to their own patch, and the ruby mustard and Johnny jump ups to theirs. Most of the borage I let stay where it grows. The hyssop is aggressive and I pull most of it and let a few plants (in places I want them) grow. All volunteer tomatoes and last year’s potatoes get pulled. Occasionally I let a squash volunteer grow. This year, I have one volunteer squash still growing in the onion bed. Last year’s volunteer squashes turned into prolific medium-sized pumpkins. Likely this year’s is too, but its a fun mystery for now.

I have some aggressive volunteers this year. A couple years ago I planted seeds for a purple morning glory. It is a lovely plant and flower. Someone warned me that its invasive. I remember I replied – “well, I’ll just pull up the plants I don’t want”. And that’s what I am doing now – LOTS of them. I have morning glory sprouts every where within 20 feet of last years vines. I keep thinking that if I can pull them all this year and prevent ANY flowers, then I can eliminate them from my garden – and my neighboring community plots – and the adjacent meadows. We do not need another invasive. Gardening near a natural area requires attention to what we plant to prevent invasion by aggressive plants.

Other sprouts in the invasive category in our community garden plots are oregano, mint, raspberries, and sunchokes. My garden plot has problems with the latter two. Today I pulled many many raspberries and sunchokes from my plot. They sneak in from neighboring plots. I’ve designated a small area for a few raspberry vines, which do really well here and are delicious.

In my home garden, the prolific volunteers/weeds are violets, ruby mustard, tomatoes, dill, and oregano’s. I have 3 types of oregano that I love to cook with. It seems daily I pull up stray oregano from my rose bed or garden paths. In my suburban home garden, I like to encourage somewhat aggressive plants to fill spaces I don’t have time to plant. I don’t mind pulling them when I want to plant something else. In a suburban location, the aggressive  plants don’t spread out of my yard.

The invasive volunteer in my parents garden is also oregano. This year my dad did a lot of work to reduce the oregano patch which had gotten out of hand. Like me, my mom likes to have a good amount available to add to the salad and cooking, so my dad couldn’t remove it all.

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