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Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017

Garden Gleanings - Breeding weeds with veggies

Posted Friday, June 27, 2008, at 8:49 AM

Wouldn't it be great? Instead of breeding plants to withstand herbicides and insecticides, what about breeding them to be as tough and aggressive as weeds?

I amazed at how fast my weeds grow and how healthy they are with the same lack of water my veggies experience. I have noticed that my volunteer cherry tomatoes are always more tenacious than my newly seeded ones.

Why is that? Should we plant our tomato seeds in the winter, or late fall? Should we just throw them on the ground or under a rotting tomato?

I have also had better luck with healthy tomatoes when I let them run. The fruits are not as clean but I put them on straw and they are not as "high maintenance" as the staked plants. They put down roots from the limbs laying on the ground and must get more moisture.

Any observations of yours? If you stake, do you have to pay more attention to your plants?

With the lack of rain, I am struggling with the choice of planting a third crop. Do I take the chance or wait? I really, really do not agree with intensive watering, unless I have rainwater to gravity feed to them. (which I don't have much left) Once they get started, they are pretty much on their own.

The six artichokes continue to look healthy, but they are not growing much. Since this is my first experience with them, I am not sure what to expect. They are supposed to fruit this year, but at this rate, it will be late fall. They can also overwinter, so I may try that as well.

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The best I remember, artichokes are usually treated as biennials; planted out from divisions in the late summer/early fall and harvested the following year. This ensures larger, fleshier flower buds. My Grandmother would never let hers complete flowering. She said they were pernicious weeds when left to their own devices, capable of taking over the world. I think she may have been correct. I have never grown artichokes personally, nor have I grown cardoon, or thistle, but thistles have appeared all around us from nowhere. I'm an old man and our experience with the thistles is new and overwhelming. I wonder if these thistles are the reverted seedlings of artichokes? I also wonder, are these thistles edible?

-- Posted by dmcg on Sat, Jun 28, 2008, at 9:42 PM

I have been wondering about the thistle as well. I usually only notice it after the have flowered, but I am going to try to pursue that question. The same or eating thistle like cardoon.

It is a biennial, but have some varieties that are supposed to complete in one season. Our winters are often too cold to overwinter, but if they do not flower this year, I will try to over winter and see what happens.

Did your mother grow these in Tennessee?

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Jun 29, 2008, at 9:13 AM

I think most of our "weeds" began as desirable plants imported because they were edible,medicinal,made dyes or fabric.

When we forgot their benefits,we didn't use them enough to keep their population down.

Then,the fact they were plentiful and hardy became a problem.

Maybe we could use them more?

Dandelions make good eating and artichokes were a treatment for diabetes before people could buy insulin.

Bamboo and hemp have been rediscovered.

Maybe other plants we try to erdicate now could be welcomed for old and new applications.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Sun, Jun 29, 2008, at 1:43 PM

That would be a fantastic thread quantumcat. Maybe we could get local folklore on the use. Most of our wealth of knowledge may be in the heads of people who do not use te internet, but if we know they have it, maybe we could talk to them.

They would enjoy the discussions and visit, we would benefit from their knowledge. Super!!!

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Jun 29, 2008, at 2:52 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.