German chamomile seedlings awaiting to overwinter. I've fall sown california poppies in the gaps to make floriferous display in the summer all going well.
Despite the fact that there's a hairy blanket of ice crystals coating the ground and you were looking forward to dreaming big garden dreams while cuddling seed catalogues, the garden has not stopped. Summer sprung seedlings are hunkering down for the winter and other seeds are waiting for a period of cold to break their dormancy.
Here are some of the reproductively independent in my garden.
Lettuce self seeds sparingly. These are the grandchildren of the original lettuces I planted here. They are from a speckled open rosette variety.
Not sure how frost tolerant these guys will be.
Chicory performs well sown in the fall for sprouting sometime in the summer. They should go to seed the following year so seeding two years in a row keeps them going (same goes for any other biennial like parsnip). I love the bitter bite of raddichio and sugarloaf so have a variety mixing it up genetically in the old orchard garden:
These sugarloafs originate from my old garden and arrived as seeds accidentally transported in transplanting soil when I moved some perennials. The original seed was purchased from William Dam probably 7 years ago or so. Planted once!
You may notice the winter salad theme to these seedlings and in that light here is a small variety of corn salad. Hoping to have a carpet of these next year.
Small compared to some varieties but the first variety to successfully grow well for me here. Hopefully larger leafed varieties will have a chance next year.
Biennial kale has been reseeding itself for a couple years now here. The spring crop was nearly wiped out by the flea beetles followed by a ravenous plague of earwigs. By fall, the herbivorous arthropod population had dwindled allowing these freshly germinated ones to survive.
Red Ursa, a hardy, tasty crop originally from Wild Garden Seeds. Flanders poppy seedlings growing alongside.
Another biennial I spotted being reproductive: parsnip. I had a fabulous crop in 2010 but 2011's were demolished by the earwigXdrought. Thankfully 2010 flowered this year to produce a nice seed crop followed by babies. We'll see if they overwinter and then if they go root or flower next year. I've noted (and have read) that immature biennials may spend another season growing before going to flower.
Parsnips growing with a common cool weather weed in the old orchard garden.
Lots of flowers are doing it too such as sweet williams, forget me nots, Coreopsis and Violas. Here they are spilling into the mulched path.
Violas and Coreopsis making their home in the wood chips.
Instead of leaving it all up to nature, you can lend a hand.
1. Sow winter hardy greens late in summer so that they hopefully overwinter under a blanket of snow or in a season extension device such as a cold frame. Carrots (yes really), spinach and lots of brassicas seem to handle this treatment well.
2. Sow self seeders in fall or in wintersown containers. Amaranth, corn salad, kale, lettuce, cosmos etc... are easily started this way.
I think my three biggest self seeders are dill, cilantro, and johnny-jump-ups. I find the last amazing since at my last garden they could come back from year to year but I never had over 10 of them in any one year. Right now I have about a hundred seedlings in one little bed. I think they outnumber the dill right now.
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