In my old garden I had self sown volunteers that I relied on to come up every year. And they did like clockwork. Most of them were in the umbellifera family. I had cilantro, parsley, and dill. My three stalworts of the garden. I keep thinking of not doing parsley that way anymore because it is always last to germinate and the ones I start inside are always better. But the other two are prefect for both production and ease. They always germinate early in the spring before I can get them to come up.
Cilantro is a slow starter. It can take weeks to germinate, but if self sown, it just comes up easily and early in the spring. This is not self sown. When I moved gardens the cilantro did not come with me. I'm trying a slow bolting variety this year. I need to start some more seed soon. I hope to let some of this batch go to seed. I want to sprinkle it about the herb garden so it can come up every year. I'll have bits of it all over the garden too. I think it is my favorite volunteer because when it flowers, it brings every kind of beneficial to the garden. It just swarms with them.
I seeded some dill in the early spring, but this is self seeded dill from my last garden. It turns out the compost that I brought with me still had viable seeds even though it was two years old. It is coming up anywhere I put compost from the old yard. Which means mostly in my garlic bed as I mulched with compost last fall. I'll pick some of the plants for eating, but some I'll let go to seed amidst the garlic. I'll scatter the seed heads around so it will come up all over. It really is a weed, but if I let it grow big enough it is an edible one. Its flowers also bring in the beneficials, but mostly the lacewings love them. It brings one "pest" into the garden too. But it is a much loved pest - the swallowtail butterfly. At my last house I would always have the larvae of the black swallowtail on my dill, chomping away. Most caterpillars I consider pests, but I love the butterflies. They are just so pretty that I'm happy to share with them. It also gives me a place to put the ones that hatch on my carrots, where I don't want them. I'll share my dill, but not my carrots.
One of the self seeded plants that I loved the most, I figured would never make the trip with me. But oh I was wrong. I've got three johnny-jump-ups growing in the garlic bed and two in the rock wall garden. They are edible, but I rarely eat them as they make me smile too much. I don't know why some flowers make me happier than others, but this is one of my favorites.
I even have another kind of viola in the herb bed. This was not planted by me, but the soil must have had seeds. Most of the weeds I pull, but these I let pop up anywhere. Sometimes I even transplant them to places where they have a better growing space. This one is hiding between and a bit behind the mint pots. Maybe it will keep blooming all summer long in the shade. I hope I'll get even more of them and my jump-ups next year. I might even pull out some saved seed from my jump-ups that I have and sow it around the garden in the fall to add to the genetic pool.
So you encourage volunteers in your garden? If so which ones are your favorite?