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Garden Time Travel

I know they say time travel is against the laws of physics, but biology can accomplish it.

The Potatoes of Gardens Past

Purple PotatoesWhat you see above are potatoes I never planted or at least ones I didn’t plant this year. I can’t be sure, but I think these potatoes actually derive from the fruits of some potato plants I had in this garden two years ago. “But potatoes don’t have fruits”, I hear you cry. In fact they do, they just aren’t edible.

Potato Fruits

Potato Fruits

As you can see above, potato fruits look like oddly colored cherry tomatoes.

Last year I had some potato plants in this same section of my garden where I harvested the potatoes pictured above. I assumed they had come from potatoes I’d missed during harvest of 2009 (as I usually do miss some and they come up the next year), but when I went to harvest them last year there weren’t really any potatoes to harvest. As I remember the plants were also fairly puny. Perhaps when coming from seed, potato plants don’t produce sizable tubers until the second year (some quick research has given me no answer to that supposition).

Chard of Gardens Future

There’s a Home Show I go to every March to promote my business and this year I actually started a number of plants in January so they’d be ready for my garden display. Among the the plants I grew were Chard, also known as Swiss Chard. Chard is a beet that doesn’t form an enlarged root (the beet), but grows much larger leaves than ordinary beets and comes in a wild variety of stem colors.

ChardOrdinarily Chard is a biennial, which means it doesn’t form flowers or seeds until its second year. However, a couple of my Chard plants did go to seed, I assume because they were planted so much earlier than they should have been.

Chard Fruits

Chard Fruits

Once Chard goes to seed the leaves are much smaller than usual so I couldn’t really harvest them for their leaves, but since I had enough other plants I let them keep growing to save the seeds for next year, which I have done.

Chard Seedlings

Chard Seedlings (self-seeded)

Of course a number of the chard fruits (they really look like oddly shaped nuts) fell off the plants before I got to them and have started to sprout. I’ll be interested to see if they survive the winter and whether they act like first year plants (and give me big leaves) or second year plants (and give me seeds).

Onions Walking into Next Year

Last year at one of Catskill Native Nursery’s Ugly Plant sales I bought a couple of Egyptian Walking Onions. They are called Walking Onions because a flower stalk forms from each onion and each flower, at the end of the stalk, forms a new small onion. When the stalk sags to the ground the new onions (called onion sets) root themselves into the ground. Lo and behold, it works!

Egyptian Walking Onion Sets

Egyptian Walking Onion Sets

I gently pried apart the groups of onion sets, making sure each one got some roots, and replanted them so they’ll have enough room to grow into full sized onions next year.

Separated onion sets ready for replanting

Separated onion sets ready for replanting

I also had garlic sets form on one of my garlic plants from which I missed removing the scape.

If you think about/plan your garden as an ongoing enterprise you can use intentional garden time travel, as well as some happy accidents to keep your garden even more productive and sustainable.

Hope you’re still harvesting!

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Image of Bug, Slugs, & Other Thugs: Controlling Garden Pests Organically (Down-To-Earth Book)



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