Friday, September 9, 2011

Veggie volunteers

This year has been a huge letdown as far vegetables are concerned. Our zucchini and crookneck squash are doing OK, but our tomatoes are a disaster. Sure, there are a few ripe cherry tomatoes every day, but never enough to make a salad, let alone a main meal with them. Other gardeners in our area seem to either be in the same boat as us or are having a great crop. Nobody can figure out why. It’s just been a schizophrenic year.

However, a few plants are going great guns—and we didn’t even plant them. In mid-summer I noticed volunteer tomatoes growing outside our vegetable beds. A couple are right in front of one bed, and the other is growing in the calla lily bed, or rather out from it towards the sun. They’re cherry tomatoes (too early too tell if they’re red, yellow or orange), and I assume they’re from seeds that ended up in those places in the form of a stray ripe tomato or two.

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Volunteer cherry tomato plant
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And another one in the calla lily bed

However, I cannot explain where this other plant came from. Take a look at the next couple of photos. It looks to me like an artichoke, and we’ve never grown artichokes before. I wonder who brought in the seed for that plant? Birds? It’s real mystery.

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Mystery artichoke surrounded by volunteer tomatoes (and thriving mint)
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Another view of the artichoke. I supposed it could also be a cardoon, but those are very uncommon around here. I did grow a cardoon once, but that was in the front of the house, quite a ways away from this spot.

When I first saw these volunteers come up, my first inclination was to remove them, but then I decided to let them grow to see what would happen. Yes, they do look messy and weedy, but with any luck, we might get better tomatoes from these volunteers than from our “real” tomato plants—and maybe an artichoke or two from the mystery thistle!

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