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SPierce
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What's your volunteer policy?

I am curious as to what more expert/experienced gardeners do with volunteers. This is really my first time experiencing them, and part of me really wants to let them grow! So far, I have 2 tomato plants that have volunteered. I have another, unknown plant, in another garden box that may have come from the compost I put on the beds.

How crowded is too crowded? Leave them, or yank them before they get too big?

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Kisal
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I usually allow volunteers to grow, at least until I can ID them as something I don't want. Once I've identified a plant as something I don't want at all, I pull it. If it's something I think I might like, but just don't want it where it decided to pop up, I either move it to a different place in my yard, or else I pot it up.

As for spacing of plants, you'll probably get a variety of answers. I happen to believe that good air circulation around plants is important to their health. Also, some diseases can spread more readily if plants are touching each other. But most of all, I believe in providing plenty of room for good root development, and spacing so that plants don't have to compete for the nutrients in the soil. JMO. ;)
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soil
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i love volunteers and let most of them grow unless in a very bad spot.
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annastasia76
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it really depends on where it decided to grow, if it's in an area that I don't mind I will leave it, if it's not then I will move it. This year I have tomatoes growing where the plants grew last year and I really don't want them in the same location so I will be moving them, I just need to get the new location set up and ready.
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gumbo2176
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I just talked to the young lady next door that put in her first garden about 3 weeks ago and is not having a good time with the tomato plants. I have at least 10 volunteer tomato plants I'm giving her tomorrow afternoon. I already have more than enough for my own use and hate to waste such healthy plants.

I also have a couple cucumber volunteers making their way between a couple of rows that I'll let grow since that area is covered in cardboard and oak leaves, so the fruit should not rot too easily.

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kimbledawn
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I let them grow depending on the area.

Here are some of mine from this year!
[img]https://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y8/kimbledawn/volunteerpumpkin.jpg[/img]

I wasnt growing pumpkins until they appeared where mu compost usually is. I put down straw and let them be!
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digitS'
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If I keep the volunteers, they have to be in just the right location.

Usually, volunteer tomato plants have little chance of ripening fruit in my garden before the 1st frost. Still, I grow quite a few early-maturing varieties so there's a chance that a volunteer is one of those and I can get a few tomatoes off of it.

I'm sure that doesn't sound like I'm very encouraged to save them and that's true. The season's short and I usually have had to give away many excess plants before the volunteers even make themselves known!

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

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Handsomeryan
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In my flower gardens I usually let volunteers go (eg. once you plant Columbine you have Columbine forever!) but in the veggie garden if I didn't plant you there is no room for you here.
Gardening is mostly an issue of your enthusiasm holding up until you get used to the work.

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SPierce
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Thanks everyone :D Was always curious what to do with them, since i've never had to deal with it before. I don't have a lot of room to spare, and am afraid of overcrowding- but at the same time i want to see what it is growing, so i guess we'll see!

Cook in SC
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Great post! I always have a hard time getting rid of something that is able to just pop up on its own and thrive. I am trying to figure out what to do with some tomatoes right now. They look beautiful but they are right by my pepper plants. I think I will move them to where my brocolli or lettuce are when they fizzle out. Last year I probably had 300 (not exagerating) volunteer wild Mexican tomatoes. I gave away a lot of them, but still had to pull the rest like weeds. They grow so many tomatoes for such a long period that I could not keep up with them so they dropped all over the garden.
I have never had a bad day gardening, just some that were better than others.

tedln
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For me volunteers are normally later arriving, but healthier plants long term than the seedlings I plant.

If they come up in an area where I previously grew desirable, open pollinated plants, I usually let them grow or transplant them to another area.

If they come up in an area where I previously grew a hybrid variety, I probably won't let them grow where they came up. If I am curious about what an f2 hybrid of the original plant will be, I may let them grow, but I rarely transplant them.

It has been my experience that volunteer plants outperform transplanted plants in heat and drought resistance. I think, but can't prove; the undisturbed taproots of volunteers makes a big difference. The enhanced performance may also be a result of the adversity volunteers in my garden face to simply emerge. Since my beds are covered with 2" or 3" of new soil every fall, the volunteers must emerge through the new soil instead of the 1/4" of soil my seedlings face.

Ted
Last edited by tedln on Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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tedln
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cook-in-sc,

What is a wild Mexican tomato? Is it a generic term meaning a tomato from Mexico or did you previously grow a variety named Mexico or Mexican where the volunteers are emerging? I'm curious because any tomato originating in Mexico implies some heat resistance or it would have been discarded. Please tell me about the tomato you previously grew where the volunteers are now growing.

Thanks

Ted
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nosta
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I usually let them grow unless they are crowding something i planted. Got a Sugar Baby watermelon sprout last year but only got 3 melons off it. more than i would have had though

Cook in SC
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tedln,

These tomatoes go by a few different names. The name that I have seen lately is Matt's Wild Cherry. Here is the description from the place where I got my original plants from:

"Matt’s Wild Cherry. The wild tomato with luscious taste. Amaze your friends with these sweet, full-flavored ½ – ¾â€
I have never had a bad day gardening, just some that were better than others.

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jal_ut
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If its looking like squash, it gets yanked. Every year I have dill come up volunteer and I let it grow if it is not in the way. Lettuce and arugula also volunteer. Same there, if it is not in the way it can grow. Otherwise it all gets treated like weeds. Here is one where I let the volunteer lettuce grow.

[url=https://donce.lofthouse.com/jamaica/lettuce&onion.jpg]Picture[/url]

I don't know why I could not post the pic, so here is a link.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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I let dandelions grow because they're great greens for my pet rabbits, mustard because I love the flowers, and the wild fennel because it's beautiful and smells deliciously of licorice.
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Observe, Identify, Research possible uses, then Determine disposition. :wink:

This time of the year -- just getting ready to plant out tomatoes but still gets down to borderline 30's once in a while -- some areas in my yard are full of Garlic Mustard in their 2nd year bloom and Ground Ivy also in full bloom.

Both are considered weeds. But with the mustard in bloom, I see arrival of my aerial Garden Patrol -- syrphid/hover flies, nemesis to aphids. Hopefully braconid wasps are not too far behind because my broccoli and cauliflowers need their protection from the Cabbage worms. The Ground Ivy flowers start to buzz with early native ground and mason bees, giant queen or overwintered bumblebees and carpenter bees, as well as early honeybee scouts.

I also have volunteer apple trees, cherry trees, holly bush, elderberry,... well you get the idea. :wink: If they are growing where I don't want them, I'll move them or if I definitely don't need them, I'll cut them down. But most things get to grow until they are identified. :D

In the garden beds, I also have lettuce volunteers as well as Red and Green shiso and Japanese parsley, Dill, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Borage, Calendula, etc. -- all the self-sowing stalwarts. They are moved if necessary or allowed to grow until micro-green size if edible. Tomatoes end up mostly pulled but I let a few stay.

Tomatoes also volunteer in my home-made potting mix, and I always end up with at least one winter tomato (DD is enjoying the grape tomatoes that have ripened in the kitchen windowsill now) and I have a tomato plant that is hardening off to be planted that has much darker/blue-ish green leaves and purplish stems. I've no idea what this one is going to turn out to be. 8)

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digitS'
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We have drifted quite a ways from what I thought was a tomato question -- and, I like some of these answers!

Let me tell you about a couple of volunteers that have worked for me: anise hyssop reseeds and volunteers every year in the garden. When the Tractor Guy tilled my large veggie garden - a few would still show up. Thankfully!

I really enjoy using anise hyssop with my lemon verbena here at home for an herbal tea. Dill volunteers like crazy in my garden and is welcome (but I don't use it for tea :wink: ).

One year, a peach tree showed up as a volunteer in my garden. I figured it was real risky business to keep it around but there seemed to be a suitable location for it (beside a blueberry that never had and, I'm fairly sure, never will do anything). So, the little peach was moved there. I mean, I could always cut it down later . . .

Perish the thought! That tree has given us the most tasty white peaches the last 3 years. I must have picked about a bushel of fruit off it last year. And, the taste is wonderful! Still, seems like a risk to have kept that volunteer but it worked :D .

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

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SPierce
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So fascinating to hear everyones stories and views on volunteers. I can only WISH i'd get a volunteer apple tree or peach tree in my garden :D

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jal_ut
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Plant tree seeds in the fall. They will come up in the spring. Most fruit trees grown from seed won't have a fruit like its parent, but it may be a good fruit. I have two apricots that I grew from seed and they are just fine. I have a peach too. Its fruit is rather small, but tasty.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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Kisal
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My lovely cherry tree was a volunteer. I figure I have a blue jay or squirrel somewhere to thank for it. :D
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SPierce
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jal_ut wrote:Plant tree seeds in the fall. They will come up in the spring. Most fruit trees grown from seed won't have a fruit like its parent, but it may be a good fruit. I have two apricots that I grew from seed and they are just fine. I have a peach too. Its fruit is rather small, but tasty.
Will they overweather okay? Do i have to do anything to protect them? That's really my biggest worry

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Well, last year I let only the very vigorous ones grow. However, this year since I'm tight on space, I probably won't be letting many grow....in the garden that is :wink:. If some come up in the compost pile, I'll probably let them go.
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gixxerific
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It all depends on where it is. Weed: a plant that is in an inopportune place. If it is in the way yanky yanky. If not than let it grow. But with me I let most everything go to seed so I have volunteers EVERYHWERE. You should see how many I have so far. I said last year I wouldn't have to plant anything and I think was on to something.

Marigolds anyone I have millions of them.

I am interested to see how everything grows from the Mgolds to the tomatoes, garlic, onions, other flowers, lettuce, basil, nasturtium, etc, etc, etc, etc. I have yet to see the warm weather sprouts come but it's gonna be a volunteer picking season I am sure of that. :D

If nothing else it's free mulch/compost. 8)

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Rogue11
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SPierce wrote:So fascinating to hear everyones stories and views on volunteers. I can only WISH i'd get a volunteer apple tree or peach tree in my garden :D
No apple or peach tree here, but 2 fig trees popped up next to our garage between the bushes. Lots of people in the neighborhood have fig trees, so I assume some birds helped themselves to some fruits and had a picnic on our garage roof.
I trimmed away some of the bushes to give them a little more room until I have found a better place for them in the garden.

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SPierce
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Rogue11 wrote:
SPierce wrote:So fascinating to hear everyones stories and views on volunteers. I can only WISH i'd get a volunteer apple tree or peach tree in my garden :D
No apple or peach tree here, but 2 fig trees popped up next to our garage between the bushes. Lots of people in the neighborhood have fig trees, so I assume some birds helped themselves to some fruits and had a picnic on our garage roof.
I trimmed away some of the bushes to give them a little more room until I have found a better place for them in the garden.
Well, I might actually get something- I went out to my garden today and noticed that I had a little something that sprouted, with a wooden stem to it, so... maybe I do have a tree of some sort growing in it? Granted, i'd have to move it if it's something i wanted to keep, but it might be interesting!

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jal_ut
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Will they overweather okay? Do i have to do anything to protect them? That's really my biggest worry
Whether a tree will winter depends on the climate and the tree. You can check a nursery catalog for the hardiness ratings of various trees. If a peach tree is supposed to be hardy in your zone, you would most likely have good luck with it. The only thing I do to protect them is to put a plastic critter guard on the trunk in the fall. Sometimes little furry critters like to nibble on the bark. They can girdle and kill the small tree very easily.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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SPierce
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jal_ut wrote:
Will they overweather okay? Do i have to do anything to protect them? That's really my biggest worry
Whether a tree will winter depends on the climate and the tree. You can check a nursery catalog for the hardiness ratings of various trees. If a peach tree is supposed to be hardy in your zone, you would most likely have good luck with it. The only thing I do to protect them is to put a plastic critter guard on the trunk in the fall. Sometimes little furry critters like to nibble on the bark. They can girdle and kill the small tree very easily.
I see- thank you! I was pretty much thinking that anything, other than an apple, wouldn't really work here since it gets so cold. But, now I'm hopeful hat maybe I can grow something ;D

now, if only i actually had more room than I have....

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