Monday, September 10, 2007

Annual, Perennial - Gardening the Permaculture Way

In July, these white umbrella-shaped flowers were tall and fragrant. Beautiful and stately enough to celebrate a wedding or birth, carrot flowers are a wonderful addition to any formal or informal garden. A cloud of tiny beneficial wasps was working the blossoms, pollinating them into future carrot seeds. Now, in early September, the flowers have turned dark brown, with thousands of seeds spilling over onto the ground, ready for next year’s sunlight and moisture, repeating the cycle of procreation.

Carrots are one of many annual or bi-annual garden plants that engage in the cycle of re-seeding and becoming perennial elements in a garden. This reduces the work of planting and cultivating, as seeds know best when to sprout and require no further handling. Re-seeders also reduce dependency on shopping for seeds. Plants, that for many generations occupy a spot in a garden, adapt and adjust to unique conditions, unlike purchased plants or plants started from seed grown in a different climate, elsewhere.
Among top re-seeders are dill, carrots, parsley, cilantro, mustard, arugula, tomatillo, calendula, amaranth, lamb’s quarters, beans and peas.
My garden is full of re-seeders, and it looks very different. It begins to depart a linear row-and-furrow design where plants march like little soldiers in perfect order, making it easier for the simple-minded pests to follow. Plants are scattering around, they get in groups, take off and move around. The garden is more of a wild patch, and is confusing to pests in the process. Plants are allowed to bloom, to get tall and to send their energy to the flowers. Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, mustard and others became tall and lanky. Flowers turned into seed pods, and some I allow to drop the seed, others I cut and relocate to another area of the garden. I lay the seeded part it on the ground, mix it with mulch, and let it join the magical cycle of decomposition, birth and growth.

No comments: