One of the hallmarks of a sustainable garden is that the plants will produce their own seeds. Taking that hallmark a step further into sustainability, the plants not only produce their own seeds but will also re-produce the next growing season without any human assistance.
Self-seeding crops produce seeds and drop them onto the soil where they will lay dormant until the next growing season. When the soil warms in spring the seeds will germinate and produce new plants.
You’ll never need to replant a garden if you select self-seeding crops to grow. Year after year the crops will return and provide a harvest. Just leave a few dying plants in the garden or allow drop vegetables to remain in place on the soil for self-seeding. It’s an easy, cheap, and sustainable way to garden. Select some of these self-seeding plants so you can plant once and enjoy fresh food for years to come from the seeds.
Arugula is a green leafy vegetable that is used in salad and stirs fry recipes. It’s easy to grow and will tolerate almost any soil condition. Plant seeds in full sun or partial shade, keep it weeded and watered and it will re-seed itself for two crops a year – one in spring and the second one in fall.
Beets can be grown in-ground or in containers and will produce two crops a year. There are many different varieties of beets and all of them are self-seeding. Both the green tops and bulbous bottom of this vegetable can be eaten, so it’s worthy of a place in your sustainable garden.
This is a fast-growing, cool-season vegetable that will self-seed itself for two crops every year. This vegetable is different than traditional broccoli and is more closely related to a turnip than to broccoli. It has a bitter taste but is still ideal for use in recipes.
Another self-seeding vegetable that will produce two crops a year. Use the succession planting for the initial seed-sowing so you will have a continual carrot harvest during the cooler weather.
For succession planting, just sow seeds every two weeks so there will always be developing carrots in the ground.
Two crops per year can be grown, one in the early spring and another in the fall. Plant seeds 2-3 feet apart in well-draining soil and full sun. Sow seeds thickly in rows that are 2 feet apart, thin out the seedlings after they sprout and use the tiny leaves in a green salad.
Collards will also improve garden soil when used as a winter cover crop and green manure. Allow some collards to remain in the garden all winter to prevent soil erosion, then turn them under into the soil in early spring.
Kale is a nutrient-rich leafy green that will grow under almost any condition and can be grown year-round in mild climates. Allow some of the plants to flower and go to seed and you’ll never have to plant this vegetable again.
This self-seeding root vegetable needs a long growing season to reach maturity, so you’ll only harvest one crop a year. Often used in place of potatoes, parsnips can be left in the soil until you’re ready to eat them.
Toss the seeds of a cleaned-out Halloween jack-o-lantern on the garden soil and you’ll never have to plant pumpkins again. Pumpkins create long, attractive vines that produce large yellow flowers and massive fruits. Allow one pumpkin to remain on the vine each year to decompose and you’ll have a bounty of new pumpkin vines next season.
Cool-season root crop that reaches maturity in 40 days. Radishes come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, and all will re-seed themselves. Both the green tops and colorful bottoms are edible, so this is a 2 -for-1 vegetable that is ideal for an early and late season garden crop.
What’s a garden without a tomato plant? Allow a couple of ripe tomatoes to remain on the plant and decompose for a self-seeding bonanza of new tomato plants next season.
Start with heirloom seeds so plants will return the same every year. Hybrids will not remain true and you’ll never know what tomato variety the seeds will produce.
Winter squash comes in a variety of flavors, shapes, and sizes. All are easy to grow in a home garden, easy to store and rich in vitamins A and C. Their nutritious orange flesh makes them a great substitute for carrots and sweet potatoes in the winter diet.
Allow harvested winter squash to cure a warm location for 2 weeks to cure, then store in a cool, dry location for up to 6 months.
Self-seeding plants will save you time and money. Create a forest garden by allowing the plants to grow wherever they spring up, thinning only when necessary.
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