Volunteer Seedlings

arugula-seedling-dill-mid-march

Among the pleasure of the early spring garden is the hunt for the wanted volunteers: dill pokes its elongated slim first leaves among the sowed arugula while cilantro is coming up now in the pea bed – both bright green, brightly flavored, their unmistakable pungency released when you crush or brush them. Both are volunteers that I strongly encourage by scattering the ripe seeds in the fall: I find the plants are much stronger when they come up when they want and not when I want.

cilantro-self-sown-mid-march

And if you think dill and cilantro look similar now, you are right, and they should: they both belong to the carrot (Umbelliferae) family. And if there is a question of what they are, touching them and then smelling my fingers would, without a doubt, tell me. Or I can wait and, then, the true leaves would announce their name as true dill leaves and cilantro leaves look not at all the same… except for dill-leafed cilantro that looks like dill and tastes like cilantro (yep there is such a beast ! – you know there must be an exception that confirms the rule…)

Do you encourage volunteers in your kitchen garden?

Note: the photos were taken mid-march, 10 days ago. True leaves are now showing.

2 comments

  1. El says:

    Oh sigh nothing growing outdoors yet…

    My definition of “weed” is something growing where I don’t want it to, so volunteers have a chance only if I have nothing better planned for the area where they show up! But dill, goodness: plant it once and then never ever again. Just need to figure out the timing so it coincides with pickle season…

  2. Ed Bruske says:

    The volunteers are coming up not just in the kitchen garden, but in the compost pile. Tomato seeds are notoriously indestructible, so we usually see lots of those. It’s a bit too early for them, though. But I am seeing new parsnips where I thought I had harvested all of last year’s parsnips. And the carrot tops and parsnip tops that were tossed into the compost heap last fall are now sprouting new growth rather than decompose. It’s always a tough decision: do we let it live, or do we kill it. Last year a mystery squash started snaking out of the compost bin. Eventually I had to do it in: they just get too big for my garden.

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