Volunteers – an avoided Gardening Oops

October 1, 2009.  Normally on the first of the month I share one of my Gardening Oops – GOOPS for short.  But this month my focus is on an avoided GOOP.

morning glory-Grandpa Ott-2 9-09 Each spring and early summer I troll my gardens for volunteers – those plants that are growing completely on their own usually by reseeding or from overwintered seeds.  Annually I find numerous morning glory seedlings which I happily transplant throughout the gardens for accents and color that continue from spring through frost … all I have to do is simply allow some of each year’s seeds to ripen on the vines and fall to the ground, and some usually survive the winter.

I also frequently find tomato volunteers sprouting up from spread compost – no my compost does not get hot enough to kill all seeds and I like it that way – which at times I will allow to grow.

cherry tomato volunteer_edited Cherry tomato volunteer 9-09_edited This year, because of the long, cold spring in south-central Connecticut and my unusually busy schedule, many tomato volunteers when un-pulled.  Two of these were cherry tomato volunteers from seeds that somehow survived the winter chill to grow in areas near the previous year’s cherry tomato planting.  (Yes, that is a cherry tomato growing among coleus.)  Sometime luck works in a gardener’s favor, since all my cherry tomato seedlings succumbed to the cold, wet weather – all but the volunteers.  The fruit has ripened late, but at least I have fruit – which I am still picking.

Sweet Autumn clematis volunteer-2 9-09 Another welcome volunteer is this sweet autumn clematis.  I originally planted two of these climbers to accent either side of my front porch, but voles decided to use the roots of both as winter food, and both plants died.  However, on one of my spring/summer tolls, I noticed a small clematis vine volunteer.  I had no expectation it was a sweet autumn, since I have other clematis varieties growing in the same vicinity.  But I’m not one to pass a gift clematis by, so I gently dug up and transplanted the tiny vine.  I was thrilled to see tiny white flowers forming on the vine this year.

So, don’t be too fast to pull out green shoots that sprout up unexpectedly … any one of them could be a volunteer that will help feed your belly or your soul.

If you have volunteer plant stories, share them here – or share them on your blog sometime soon – but leave a teaser comment below so all who read my story can visit your blog to read yours as well.

Click GOOPS to follow previous Gardening Oops posts.

1 comment for “Volunteers – an avoided Gardening Oops

  1. October 1, 2009 at 9:47 am


    Volunteers are definitely one of the happy off-shoots (pun intended!) of gardening. Like you, I am usually pleased to stand back and see what develops.

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