It’s a garden nightmare! Elderly brassicas and silverbeets are creeping across garden paths long after they have set seed. These monsters block garden paths and deprive seedlings of light. Meanwhile the lazy ‘gardeners’ responsible for this mess sit in deck chairs sipping their favourite fair trade, organic, single origin beverage as if nothing is amiss.
But is this a nightmare? Well one of the lazy gardeners is me, and I can tell you this ‘nightmare’ is the lowest maintenance gardening technique I know.
I let many plants go to seed because it’s often easier to let them decide when to grow themselves than to try and nurture them in a greenhouse or outdoors when it’s too hot, too cold, too dry, too windy or too wet.
Recently we got the tail end of a storm which was rather damaging at its centre but here delivered a nice dump of rain. This created perfect germination conditions for our brassicas in particular. These had gone to seed a while ago but were still determined to throw out some more slightly bitter tasting leaves for good measure (that’s right, those kale leaves you can see are new leaves that sprouted after the plants went to seed!) and the seeds were just hanging around until temperature and moisture levels were just right.
Upon discovering that these oversized ‘Red Russian’ Kale plants were suddenly sheltering hundreds of tiny seedlings it was time to cut back to old wood to make way for more fresh veggies.
So now I shouldn’t need to plant any kale this year because my needs are more than covered by this lot.
Now there are two major draw backs with this technique. Firstly, your garden looks messy while plants that are no longer tasty are busy flowering and setting seed. Secondly, crop rotation is a bit more difficult because new seedlings pop up pretty much everywhere (including in our freshly mulched paths) regardless of all those carefully drawn up plans for where plants will be grown next season. But these disadvantages are acceptable to me because I’m not working nearly as hard while the plants are just doing what they do best. Growing! Besides, if you need to you can transplant the volunteer seedlings when they’re big enough.
Added to all that, the chickens were thanking us as well for all the old kale deposited in their coop. Better that they eat the old brassicas rather than the new seedlings (which they have developed quite a palette for).
So next time your plants start flowering, signalling the end of their lives as tasty additions to your plate (for some plants anyway), why not try letting them self seed. You’ll love all the extra time you have to spend enjoying your garden and trying new things.