The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Volunteer romas

Volunteer tomatoesSometimes I feel like all I have to do is tell the farm that I need something, and it provides.  There's really nothing mystical about it --- you just have to focus on what you want and then keep an open mind so you notice the solution when it looks you in the face.

You'll recall that I posted earlier this week about being low on roma tomato transplants.  While weeding asparagus alley Thursday, what did I find but a big patch of healthy volunteer romas!

There are always lots of volunteer tomatoes in our garden, but it's usually tough to tell which variety they are until they fruit.  Since we fertilize our garden with horse manure to which kitchen scraps from someone else's household are added, volunteer tomatoes could be just about anything.  One year, I babied a volunteer tomato, only to find out that it was some kind of grocery store variety that won't get past the pink, hard stage before the fruits rot off.  So I swore off keeping volunteer tomatoes --- it's just too much of a gamble in our setting.

Transplanting tomatoesHowever, Thursday's volunteers were all growing from one spot which just happened to be where the yellow romas lived last year.  I'm 85% sure a fruit fell there and rotted in the midst of the summer garden frenzy, which would explain why there are so many tomato plants popping up out of the same spot but none on either side.  So I thanked the farm, then transplanted those yellow romas into my empty tomato beds.  I can taste those extra sun-dried tomatoes already!

Our chicken waterer keeps the flock healthy with POOP-free water.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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We have the exact same scenario with some yellow pear tomatoes that volunteered. Hoping the volunteers are what we think they are : )
Comment by Canned Quilter Fri May 18 09:26:52 2012
We had some super strong Green Zebra volunteers last year. This year we are hoping for Isis Candy. You're right, it is a risk. Sometimes a calculated risk. I've sworn off volunteer squash - there are simply too many of them in the compost, and they take up too much space to warrent the risk.
Comment by Paula B. Fri May 18 13:23:47 2012

You really do have some sort of magic over there, I think. I've been reading you guys for awhile and I keep sighing with longing at all of the successes you share with us. I always feel like I'll never get a hang of growing food, so I feel like I will never be able to grow most of what I eat. Your land, your talents, and your luck is definitely magical in that sense. You've ached that little place where it works out beautifully for you time and time again. I hope that one day I can reach that same place. It does help that you also share failures, proving that my own are perfectly normal and that I can achieve your level of expertise some day.

Also, as an aside, I love finding volunteers. I feel like nature is giving me presents when I find them!

Comment by Brandy Fri May 18 18:12:33 2012
Achieved, not ached, I'm sorry about my tablet's autocorrect.
Comment by Brandy Fri May 18 18:14:12 2012

Canned Quilter and Paula B. --- I hope your volunteers and mine all turn out to be what we wanted!

Brandy --- Hang in there! It gets better (and tastier) every year. You just have to shrug off all the failures as learning experiences.

Comment by anna Fri May 18 19:59:11 2012
I'm trying, I promise! Just hard to keep positive when I get almost nothing every year for years! I do have to accept that my soil is sad and that it's a slow road to richness. I have noticed that this year the soil is doing noticeably better, so maybe I'll have some success this time!
Comment by Brandy Fri May 18 21:41:47 2012
Brandy --- You might try putting your energy into smaller spaces at first and focusing on the most dependable crops. It's hard to narrow down your vision at this time of year, but I've discovered that when I'm not over-extended, I do much better with the crops that are in the ground! Maybe put the fallow space into buckwheat for the summer and then oats for the fall for faster rehabilitation?
Comment by anna Sat May 19 10:18:03 2012
This year I'm focusing on getting some perennials in the ground, like asparagus, strawberries, and blueberries for next year. I'm going to see if I can manage cultivating a patch of salad greens and maybe a couple of herbs. Also, the peach and apple trees I planted last year had some flowers this year, so I'm praying for a few fruit! I didn't prep the ground properly this year for much in the annual department. I realized too late when I should've put a kill mulch down for a proper growing space. That's okay, though, I think that every little step toward a lush garden will get me just a little closer.
Comment by Brandy Sat May 19 11:38:03 2012
Brandy --- Very smart to focus on perennials, salad greens, and herbs. I'll be sending happy garden thoughts your way for a successful year.
Comment by anna Sat May 19 19:19:56 2012
Thanks, Anna! In the meantime, I'll keep soaking up what I can from what you share with us!
Comment by Brandy Sat May 19 21:19:30 2012

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