Self-Planting Autumn Vegetables

[pictured: self-planted bush bean on Oct. 9. This bean and its neighbors have now been transplanted to a cold frame with other beans for winter growing.]

I’m always happy when vegetables in my garden plant themselves. There is no easier gardening in the world!

Having a self-planting garden is easy to do when you are using the right varieties of seed and have the right kind of garden (as detailed in my Forgotten Skills book).

My self-planted vegetables that have come up this fall include mustard greens, cabbages, rutabaga, peas, lettuce, and beans. On Oct. 14, I even found a baby tomato plant, about an inch high. All of my other outdoor tomatoes have frozen, but this one is fine and happy because it is so close to the ground, it didn’t get frozen (the ground releases heat at night). So I put a cloche over it. So far it’s doing great! We’ll see what happens.

[pictured: self-planted Osaka Purple Mustard greens. Seed for this plant is one of the varieties I sell.]

Another great thing about self-planted veggies is that they thrive. For example, I planted rutabagas, and then transplanted some when they came up so thick (because I over seeded). But the rutabagas that planted themselves came up before anything I planted, and are now more advanced and will produce mature roots before the ones I planted. Kinda makes we wonder why I even bothered planting :)

[pictured: self-planted rutabagas, one of the best autumn vegetables and one of the least used!]

One caveat of self-planted volunteers is that you may not want them where they are growing. I had beans volunteer, but where I have them is covered by a low cold frame for winter lettuces. The beans were crowding the lettuce and needed more space. So I transplanted the beans over to the beans I planted in fall -- and they are all thriving, in full flower right now.

[pictured: a sea of self-planted Swiss chard (among multiplier autumn onions)]

As I’ve said before, when I married my wife, she told me that rule of the house was that everyone and everything has to thrive on benign neglect, including husbands. In the garden, this means that the garden has to do most of the work itself -- we are busy. So when the garden plants itself, it’s just following the rules! -Caleb

[pictured: self-planted baby cabbages among lentils in a cold frame]

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