10 May 2012

It's a Kind of Magic...

Cherry tree seedling

While I try and squeeze a few moments to write up my notes about my trip to Jekka's herb farm, I wanted to share a little bit of magic going on in the herb patch: free cherry trees! I almost didn't see this tiny seedling as I weeded under the cherry tree but my eye was drawn to the two halves of a cherry stone lying on top of the soil and it dawned on me what the seedling must be. I stayed my hand and placed a marker stone to remind me where the seedling was. Several weeks later and the little tree is now 3 inches tall with four true leaves. There are a couple more 'trees' that have popped up and will be similarly nurtured. My first foundling has been potted up, ready to be taken to the school gardening club this Friday and will eventually be grown in the school's raised bed in the kitchen garden at Lauderdale House in Highgate.

The example above reminds me that every seed wants to grow, given the right conditions and freshness, and every plant is genetically programmed to propagate itself. Even in an urban environment it wouldn't take long for nature to take over. There's a copse of Victoria plum trees growing alongside a lane near my parents' home; its origins lie in the fruit falling from trees in a private neighbouring garden. If I left the York Rise veg patch alone this year, growing in between copious amounts of weeds (chickweed, dandelion, daisies - all edible; goosegrass, couch grass, thistles - not, unless you're a donkey) would be red orach (mountain spinach), sunflowers, nasturtiums, potatoes, horseradish, calendula,  nigella and monarda. Every one of them is self seeded.


Even the autumn raspberries have spread a bit too enthusiastically, sending out runners where they shouldn't. Earlier in the year I pulled several out while tidying round. Obviously I didn't get them all because there are more than half a dozen raspberry canes still flourishing in the bed used for last year's courgettes.

Don't make my mistake: I thought these runners were suckers which stole energy from the main plant; I've since learned that they can be moved and grown as new canes. More free plants! Now that's magic!

(I feel I ought to apologise to anyone who will now have that Queen song running around their heads all day. I just can't get it out of my head... whoops, there's another one!)

14 comments:

  1. Freebies like your cherry tree are wonderful, I have some tiny Acers in pots, grown from seed. If we went away for 10 yrs, we would come back to an Ash and Chestnut forest, we are always pulling thousands of seedlings out, nature is determined!

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    1. It certainly is, Pauline, and thank goodness for that! I'm watching all my recently sown seedlings forging ahead with very little being done by me!

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  2. I shall be on the hunt underneath my cherry tree now for free seedlings. It will be interesting to follow it's progress and see how it does, grown from a self sown seedling.

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    1. I hope you find some, Jo! I imagine this one will grow just a few inches a year which puts the price we pay for nursery grown fruit trees into perspective doesn't it?

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  3. I love getting free plants like that. My Sorbus tree that I grew from some berries that I found on the path is doing well. This is it's second year and it's only about 10cms tall so it'll be a while before it's much of a size but I don't have anywhere for it in my garden so maybe by the time it is ready for planting out we'll have a bigger garden!! My rasps are equally as rampant. We could probably start a pick your own this autumn for passers by.

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    1. I thought this would appeal to you, Welly! Your comment about your raspberries made me laugh - I'm not quite that bad but I did think about repotting a few to donate to our Transition Town farmer's market stall in a couple of weeks!

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  4. Wonderful...that's the sort of discovery that makes a gardener's heart skip a beat. I'd be absolutely thrilled if I found those little cherry trees as well :)

    I picked some flowering quince fruit last autumn and tried my hand at propagating them over the winter. I split some of the over-ripe fruit and stuck them in pots of compost and then left them outside. I wasn't sure if anything would germinate but lo and behold dozens of seedlings came up this spring. All seeds want to grow and Nature certainly takes care of herself if left to her own devices.

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    1. Tanya, you're a woman after my own heart! I also find these little discoveries thrilling! I like the sound of your quince seedlings. My parents tried to grow quince but it never fruited; with my recently acquired gardening knowledge, I think maybe the soil was too poor!

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  5. Nice post as always. I now have about twenty raspberries, having more than doubled what I started with! Flighty xx

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    1. Thank you, Flighty, a lovely comment, as always. If raspberries can grow this quickly, I'd better find somewhere to put them all! What do you do with your spares now that you have double? Do you sell them on via the trading shed? Would be interesting to know what people do with their excess plants... hmm, sounds like another post in the making!

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  6. If you had tried to grow a cherry tree from seed I bet it wouldn't have worked - but Nature has a way of doing the right thing to make sure everything survives.

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    1. *chuckle* I bet you're right, Elaine! It's all very magical how it comes right - and the soil under the cherry tree is very good, full of humus from years of neglected leaf fall and seaweed that I mulched with last autumn; perhaps that's what did the trick?

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  7. How fab - I love self-sowers - even when they need a bit of management! I am really looking forward to hearing about your trip to Jekka's herb farm.

    Thanks for the Queen song in my head!

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    1. Yes, me too. It shows that we must be getting the growing conditions right! It's my goal for the weekend to post about my road trip - the day was so packed with information (and gossip!) that it might have to be TWO posts!

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