Growing vegetables leads inevitably to plants going to seed spreading their offspring far and wide, other creatures (in my case a tomato-loving dog and birds) dropping seeds around the place or compost holding more than just soil-enriching goodness being added to garden beds around the garden. All of these things lead to rogue vegetables appearing where they may, usually well away from where you planned to put them. I love this, there’s nothing strictly planned in my garden anyway, so if a tomato takes up residence in the pebbles under the pergola, a potato in a pot or silverbeet around the plum tree then I just go with it and see what comes of it. At worst I end up pulling them out if they are intruding on other (planned) vegetables’ space or they come up in the wrong season and don’t do well. At best you get a lovely addition to the harvest without having had to do anything AT ALL to the plants. Now that’s my kind of gardening. This year I’ve had some great rogue vegetable harvest which I thought worthy of their own posts.
I know lots of people don’t like rogue tomatoes, they are usually unidentifiable in terms of variety and they are often hard and lacking in taste when compared to other known varieties. I would generally agree with this. I also find that they tend to come up quite late in the piece. But all these things make them just perfect for green tomatoes to cook with, or more specifically to make green tomato pickles with. It’s usually the last thing I do before pulling out all the tomato plants in Autumn. So far this year I have only found one rogue tomato, but I might find more in the next few months, ones that are hiding still or that are yet to come up. It’s in the zucchini bed, I might have to move it later on, but for now I’ll let it grow where it likes.
This is a new one for me having only grown potatoes for the first time last year, but it’s one I’m very much a fan of so far. I assume they came up from tiny, tiny seed potatoes missed when I dug up the last crop. I spread the compost they grew in all over the garden and added to some pots as well. It was in one of these pots as well as in one of the raised beds – the zucchini bed again (perhaps it should be renamed the renegade bed) – that some potatoes grew. I let them go over the winter and the start of spring, but then they started encroaching on the space needed by the plants I actually put in myself so the potatoes got evicted. To my delight each one had a small handful of baby potatoes, just enough for dinner with a few other bits and pieces.
I’m not really sure how I ended up with rogue turnips this year. I did grow them last year but can’t remember any of the going to seed before being pulled out. Can the seeds stay viable in the ground and then germinate much later? I noticed them growing in where I grew the zucchinis last year (hang on a minute, is there something about zucchinis and rogue vegetables?). When I cleaned the bed up at the end of the season I noticed a couple of little plants that looked like some sort of root crop so I left them in. It didn’t take too long before I figured out they were turnips. As I didn’t plant any others until later in the season these ones started my harvest earlier than I had anticipated which was a very welcome thing. When I grew the next lot I let one go to seed and then tried to scatter the seeds around hoping I might get some more, but I haven’t noticed anything yet.
This vegetable has the rogue thing down pat, spreading seeds throughout the year so that I have had a constant supply of the leafy green for the last three or four years without ever having had to plant it after that first time. No matter how many plants go to seed, I always have others coming on to replace them. They tended to come up in the same bed or in the pebbles between the bed and the path which was quite convenient. However I now have some under one of the apples trees and others all around the base of the plum tree as well as next to the compost heap.
5. Flowers (the edible variety of course)
Marigolds and Nasturtiums have free run of my garden. They’re pretty (a much neglected quality in my backyard), they bring bees and other good insects into the garden and they are edible….. if you’re into eating flowers, I am not. So while they come up by the dozen I’m happy, even if I do have to move a few every now and again.
And for a sneaky 6, I have a mystery rogue at the moment. I thought it was a sunflower, but I’m not sure what do you think, it doesn’t look quite like my other sunflowers so now I’m doubting myself.
Liz is all about broad beans (now there would be a good rogue vegetable) this week.