Dig It! The Reseeded Garden
by Sage and Snow Garden Club
September 6, 2010
Is it just my Ozark heritage or does everyone like something for nothing? This time of year in the garden is when we can really put that phrase to good use by choosing which plants we want to let reseed themselves. This applies to the flower, herb and vegetable garden. Some mature plants are short lived, such as Penstemon, Aquilegia, and Coreopsis, so letting them reseed is a way to ensure you always have them in your garden. Nurturing self-seeders is also a great way to provide a diversity of flowers that supply pollen and nectar for beneficial insects.
The choice really begins earlier in the year when you decide which plants to not remove flowers from so they can "set" seed. Most plants will usually continue blooming, even while seed pods are forming, but you will need to experiment to see how you like this outcome; that is the number of flowers will be fewer if some seeds are forming because that uses energy that would otherwise go into producing more flowers.
You can either let the seeds drop around the parent plant or after the seed heads have completely dried, you can scatter the seeds where you want them or you can let nature (birds, wind, gophers, rain, insects, etc.) surprise you with where the seeds will come up next year. Be sure to let the seedpods dry on the plant, then cut them off and set them on the ground or shake the seeds out. Plant some seeds in a separate pot so you can recognize the seedlings that come up, be able to identify them in your garden, and not hoe them down.
Encourage seedlings by using mulches or bare ground around the parent plants. Seeds will fall into gravel, making it difficult for birds or other creatures to find them and the gravel creates a moist environment which maintains a constant temperature ideal for propagation. You can top dress the perennial bed with compost or organic mulch, but birds and small animals may find the seeds easier. You can leave the soil bare and simply scratch around the reseeding plants to create a seed bed. Another way to encourage self-seeders is to select vigorous plants from a larger planting, and let these plants grow unharvested until they bloom and produce seeds or set aside a bed for the plants you want to let reseed.
Some plants reseed more readily than others, so you might want to experiment and if you see seedlings around your plants, then you are in business! Here are some plants that usually reseed easily: Foxglove (Digitalis), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Beardtongues (Penstemon), Hummingbird Mints (Agastache), Yarrow, Poppies, Tickseed (Coreopsis), Maximilianís Sunflower (Helianthus), Sage (Salvia), Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera), Delphinium, Blue Flax (Linum), Columbine (Aquilegia), Jupiterís Beard (Centranthus), Violas, Blanket Flower (Gaillardia), Cosmos, Moss Rose (Portulaca), Alyssum (Lobularia maritima), Arugula, Calendula, Chamomile, Cilantro, Dill, Breadseed poppies, Red Orach (Mountain Spinach), Nasturtiums, Amaranth, New Zealand Spinach, Dill, Radishes, Brocolli Raab, Turnips, and Mustard. Note that Beets, Carrots, Collards, Kale (especially Russian strains), Broccoli, Parsnips and Parsley are biennials that produce seeds in the second year, so you will need to overwinter them in the garden.
Please note the location for the next Sage and Snow Garden Club meeting on Tuesday, September 21: the Sublette County Weed and Pest Office, 12 South Bench Road (307-367-4728), Pinedale. Come at 4:30 pm for social time and 5:00 pm for the business meeting. Contact us at PO Box 2280, Pinedale, WY, 82941, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 307-859-8606. To find out more about the Garden Club, go to www.pindealeonline.com and click on the link under "clubs".