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Garden Grow Thyself

As much as I talk about planning your garden to have a good harvest, sometimes you just want to let your garden do its own thing.

Kale & Dill

Kale planted intentionally this year, Dill from seed fallen from last year's plants

The kale (larger plant above) I planted intentionally earlier this year. A couple of weeks later the dill seedling started to come up. I had let some of last year’s dill go-to-seed (the term for allowing a plant to form seeds) and though I harvested the seed and used it to make pickles, some must have fallen off which is why I have these plants now. All I have to do is allow the same thing to happen every year and I’ll never need to buy dill seed again.

I also had fennel seedlings come up in another part of my garden from the same process, but I picked all of that out when small because fennel will suppress the growth of most other vegetables.

I also had kale, broccoli, and rutabagas survive the winter and all are now flowering. I would like to allow all of them to go-to-seed so I can grow more plants from them later. However, I can’t let them all do so.

Rutabaga flowers, Broccoli flowers, Kale flowers

Cabbage family flowers- Rutabaga, Broccoli, Kale

Notice how similar all of the flower clusters are to each other. It’s because they are all members of the cabbage family. In fact the kale and broccoli are so closely related (actually just different varieties of the same species) that if both are allowed to flower at the same time, the pollen (the flower’s male reproductive cell) from each will fertilize the other plant (called cross-pollination) and next year you’ll have seeds that aren’t quite either kale or broccoli. The rutabaga is different enough that cross-pollination can’t happen.

Since broccoli flowers every year, but kale only flowers in it’s second year, I’ll cut down the broccoli flowers from these plants and let my later crop of broccoli form seeds after the kale flowers are gone. That way I can get seeds from both that will breed true.


Potato sprouting from one I missed last year

No matter how hard I search I never get every potato out my garden each harvest season. So I always have a few coming up in odd spots.

I always enjoy these little surprises my garden gives me every year. You can have them too.

2 Responses to “Garden Grow Thyself”

  1. Anne says:

    I, too, have lots of kale coming up from last year. I’m wondering, if I cut it back before (or as) it flowers, will the plants bush out and provide a good crop, or is it only good for collecting seed? Thanks!

  2. Jay says:

    Sorry about the delayed response. I’m still not used to getting comments. To answer your question, you can harvest from second year kale if you keep cutting off the flower stalks, but the stalks will keep appearing. I think second year kale is best for getting seed.

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