Seed Swaps

Snakes, Volunteers, and Other Adventures

24 Mar 2012
Sunny 21°C / 70°F

Bees buzzing around the blooming lilac, and the tomato transplants happy in their bigger homes, and the weed-violets that I love so much are up…Sigh. It feels so good to be outside.

I kept running into garter snakes all day while I worked, which made me happy, though they were a little taken aback to have this hoomin tromping around their land, disturbing their sunshine-y dozing.

I sowed the spinach (actually used markers and twine! I’ll be able to tell where I planted them this year!), but I’m a little concerned about the Kitchen Garden bed. On Thursday, I dug up the soil, put together some landscape timbers to create a slight raised-bed effect, and then lined the bottom of the bed with some twigs and sticks a la Hegelkul- heigelrnkultur…Whatever. That thing everyone’s been doing. Then I put on a bunch of compost and purchased topsoil. But… I don’t think I though it through in my enthusiasm. It’s a leetle too shallow—when I plant the tomatoes, their roots will prbably have to work around the sticks—and I kind of brushed off comments I read like “nitrogen draft.”

Well, whatever. Never met a gardening mistake I haven’t tried.

Went ahead and planted three bush bean seeds + lettuce in the three big pots (almost stepping on a snoozing garter snake in the process). Only had enough Mesclun Mix for one of the pots. Boo.

All the while I was puttering around, I kept looking at two volunteer tomatoes that came up in the old spinach bed, from the compost. I know, I know—I swore I’d be ruthless about volunteers, but that sneaky spring-time paranoia keeps lurking. That fear that something will go terribly wrong, and I’ll need back-up plants. So, finally, I gave in and transplanted them to pots. They’ll ruin my all-black tomato scheme, and I have no room for them, but hey, I was raised Catholic. All that guilt.

And while I was at it, I dug up some sunflower volunteers and moved them to the Peony Bed and the Under the Oak Garden. Late last summer, two of the Russian Mammoths keeled over face-first into the lawn like a pair of drunken frat boys. And like I would treat a pair of drunken frat boys, I just sort of left them there, face-first in the lawn. At least for a while.

But now I have these little volunteers coming up in the grass. I hadn’t planned on sunflowers this year, but Matt likes ‘em, and I can’t help but admire plucky volunteers, so… transplanted them.

I’ve read that sunflowers have a sort of plant-repelling effect, so can discourage growth of other plants. Hmm.

Guess we’ll see if that’s true.



You’re a wonderful writer – I really enjoyed reading your post. :-)
Totally understand your ambivalence about volunteer tomatoes, I find myself wondering whether it would take a really feisty attack of blight to cure me of my volunteer-plant-nurturing ways.
Guess 2012 is the year of the hugelkultur…it will be interesting to see how the various riffs on the ole permaculture mound work out.

Posted on 25 Mar 12 (about 4 years ago)

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