Home   |   About Us   |   GROW: The Book   |   Blog   |   Join Us   |   Shop   |   Forum Rules

What is one thing in your food garden this year that you weren't actually planning to grow? — The Grow Network Community
Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

- John C. Maxwell

What is one thing in your food garden this year that you weren't actually planning to grow?

mmarriottmmarriott Posts: 9 ✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Vegetables

As a novice urban vegetable gardener, I find that even though I start out with a plan of what I am going to grow each year, what actually gets planted can change on a whim. There is always at least one thing growing in my garden that either just offered itself, or was a "that's cool, I've never seen that before" seed or seedling at my local garden store that I couldn't resist.

This year those things are:

  • shiso (bought it for eating, but came with the roots attached, so what the heck - let's plant it!)
  • corn (seedlings gifted by a neighbour - have never tried growing corn, and didn't think I had space in my raised beds, but we'll see what happens)
  • potatoes (seed potatoes gifted by the same neighbour - required my husband to quickly build a potato box - excited for harvest)
  • cola plant (actually does smell like cola - not sure what the heck to do with it - add to kombucha? tea?)

What about you - what are you surprised to be growing this season?


  • FergFerg Currently United States, Appalachia. Previously Great Lakes, GNYMA, Germany.Posts: 290 ✭✭✭

    pumpkins! i grew up some for some people/communities and had a couple plants leftover. I have no space, so they are in a corner of the deck growing up and around the latticework. Gives a little shade as well.

    I've got Long Island Cheese (which is really more in the butternut family) and Valenciano, a white pumpkin. They both store well. I like pumpkin sliced and either grilled, pan-seared, or baked and served with grated garlic/salt/sour cream.

  • The Gardening GroomerThe Gardening Groomer Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    Bell peppers and grape tomatoes (all organic)! We eat a lot of both in our household, from the grocery store, and the scraps, seeds and spoiled bits all end up in the compost, so I get lots of volunteers in the tumbler and popups with other plants. Out of approximately 20 grape tomato plants, I actually germinated and planted only 2 of them, the rest were transplants from compost. And out of probably 30 bell pepper plants, I didn't plant a single seed. My front greenhouse is currently full of both, I'm running out of space. :D But I have a soft spot for sprouts, and had a hard time letting them go, I wanted to nurture them to test my gardening skills, and they're all massive plants that are flowering and fruiting beautfifully. :)

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,317 admin

    I am excited to have caraway sprout unexpectedly this year. Planted some about 5 years ago and it went to seed and came back the next year but I didn't see it after that. So this is a nice surprise.

    @mmarriott Do you know the Latin name of the cola plant? I once had a 7-Up plant. It was a member of the Stachys genus and not only had the smell of 7-Up but gave your nose a funny sensation like the bubbles sometimes do when you drink a freshly opened pop. So cool! I don't have any shiso this year. Couldn't find any in the garden centres here. Are you right in the city or out the valley a bit?

    Welcome to TGN's forum @The Gardening Groomer. Lucky you, getting tomato and pepper volunteers.

  • ParadoxParadox Posts: 139 ✭✭✭

    Radishes... haven't planted them yet, but as we move into fall crops, there are three varieties (at least) to try. Hoping for one that isn't spicy to my gringo tongue.

  • The Gardening GroomerThe Gardening Groomer Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    Thanks, @torey! If you're close by, I'll give you all you can handle, I'm overrun! :D

    Seriously contemplating selling them on the roadside here, since I live on a highway.

  • GroundedGrounded Posts: 154 ✭✭✭

    Sweet potatoes. I have never planted any kind of potato before. One of the other gardeners at our community garden kept talking about potatoes and ended up offering me a few sweet potato cuts and I couldn't say no. I found a place for them in the front corner.

  • solarnoon.aspensolarnoon.aspen Posts: 206 ✭✭✭

    Common Mallow

    I thought I had pulled most of it out. Several years in a row, large wonderful plants with pollinator-attractant flowers grew along the pathway of one of my garden rows. But it started to get in my way and I pulled.

    Well, its pretty much everywhere, so I decided to investigate it's benefits and found many. Now I'm protecting it this year in the pathways again. I may transplant it and will actually start some from seed in my new medicinal garden next year.

  • Megan VenturellaMegan Venturella Posts: 308 ✭✭✭

    Tomatillos, Ground Cherries, and Borage. Once the borage seeds, it's there forever, which is great- but the other two produced so much last year I fed a ton to the chickens and ended up with untold numbers of volunteers. But since rats have been getting my favorite tomatoes, at least this way I'll still have salsa!

  • dipat2005dipat2005 Posts: 294 ✭✭✭

    Lettuce. I found some Lettuce seed tape. Granted it is several years old. The swiss chard has been coming up and there is something else up but I am not sure what it is. I also planted the rest of my seed tapes on Monday with more spinach, swiss chard, flowers and kale. I am excited to see what comes up!

  • mmarriottmmarriott Posts: 9 ✭✭✭

    @torey I just looked at the tag again and the latin name for the Cola plant is Artemisia Abrotanum. It also does say it is an aromatic culinary herb that can be used in sauces and salads. I'm just not convinced that I actually want my salad to taste like cola!

    @attydennis1 if my potato growing experience goes well this year, maybe next year I can try sweet potatoes. One of my faves.

  • mmarriottmmarriott Posts: 9 ✭✭✭

    @torey to answer your other question, I am right in the city, so restricted to two raised beds for my veggie plots, and pots on the deck for all my herbs and other things. Oh, and now a potato box. :)

  • danielle.meitivdanielle.meitiv Posts: 30 ✭✭✭

    ONE thing? Ha! ;-)

    I planted some Asian long cucumbers and cucameloms - had planned to plant only pickling cukes and this cool cuke-like melon but added those two last minute

    Potatoes! It's usually too hot in the summer here (DC area) but I decided to experiment and now I'm growing some in the shade hoping it will be cool enough.

    I'm now thinking about putting in carrots just for the heck of it :-)

  • Lisa KLisa K Posts: 407 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My local nursery (not a big box place) every year has something new and this year I was able to find Red Long Beans, Thai mint, Vietnamese cilantro and Aztec Sweet Herb.

  • nicksamanda11nicksamanda11 Posts: 140 ✭✭✭

    Shiso is a weed around here- I can't imagine planting that on purpose! I saw some volunteer cucumbers in my compost but i just buried them and moved on- maybe I'll transplant from now on. I'm excited to grow comfrey- a friend gave me an established plant and it's really thriving. One last thing- i harvested mullein seeds a couple years ago and threw some in a pot and BAM! now I have some pretty cool mullein plants in bloom- i pick the flowers every day- by the way ants love mullein flowers too😐

  • KimWilsonKimWilson Posts: 193 ✭✭✭

    Canadian crookneck winter squash. Hopefully these will replace Sweet meat squash as my favorite. I planted them because of the fantastic description of the seed company and also planted my favorite sweet meat squash. Lo and behold, my sweet meat must have had a sense that they may be replaced because they are growing far better this year than they have grown for me in the past 20 years.

  • KimWilsonKimWilson Posts: 193 ✭✭✭

    By the way nicksamanda11, I learned about the fantastic healing properties of comfrey a few years back. Just harvested today and will again throughout the growing season.

  • erikawintertonerikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭

    Yes! I oftem have my littles help me start the seeds. This year I ended up with lots of giant sunglowers and pumpkins! Ha ha.

    I also have a comfrey root I dug out to move three years ago.. There was some root that wouldn't come out and was left in the soil. Year after year no matter how many times it is tilled over, the plant still comes back!

    I also have tuber trees in my garden to attract polonators and preditor animals like birds. It is quite invasive and pops up everywhere!. I feel when I move and start anew this will definitely be something to avoid.

  • JohnJohn Posts: 148 ✭✭✭

    I forgot a bag of onions in the pantry, and...yep..they sprouted-I planted them, and they are growing-can't wait to see what i get. :)

  • kbmbillups1kbmbillups1 Posts: 436 ✭✭✭✭

    I found a horseradish root at Sprout's that was sprouting so I bought it to plant in my garden. I hadn't planned on planting horseradish root. The leaves are huge and it's surprised me and growing really well.

    I also found lemongrass and it's overtaking my oregano and will need to be moved in the fall. My cats love it when I bring some in the house for them.

    I also had 2 volunteer tomato plants pop up but my husband cut one down b/c sadly he couldn't tell the difference between it and the weeds he was wacking. 😁

  • solarnoon.aspensolarnoon.aspen Posts: 206 ✭✭✭

    Another surprise for me is zucchini in my greenhouse. I did plant seeds elsewhere, but these two humungous plants are volunteers. All winter long, when I keep my chickens in the greenhouse, I am able to take advantage of a program in the community where the produce departments of several food stores give their leftovers and rejects to anyone who'll take them. I put MY hand up for that. Resulting in lots of it composting in the greenhouse and growing. Last year, potatoes, this year, zucs. They actually grow much better out of a compost pile than the ones i planted in the garden. Makes sense.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,369 admin
    edited August 2020

    If you watch my video in the grow your own food contest, you will see many plants that I wasn't planning to grow. Some were very welcome, some not so much.

  • AcequiamadreAcequiamadre Posts: 234 ✭✭✭

    I planted amaranth last year that didn't come up. But this year...hello amaranth!

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,369 admin

    @Acequiamadre I am hoping for a few surprises like that next year. I planted some new medicinal herbs that just didn't appear. I just hope that they are easily identifiable early next year if they decide to grow.

  • CorneliusCornelius Posts: 216 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2020

    I through pumpkins in my garden over winter to decompose and now I either have pumpkins or zucchini growing (since that is where the zucchini was the year before). I can't wait to find out!

  • annebeloncikannebeloncik Posts: 60 ✭✭✭

    I had some kind of winter squash pop up under a tomato, I guess from the compost I had added. Either a spaghetti squash or a pumpkin, can't really tell yet! I transplanted it into a container and it went all Audrey II... We'll see!

  • seeker.nancy - Central Texasseeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 753 ✭✭✭✭

    Cantaloupe...a volunteer that keeps trying to take over everything lol. I guide it by putting bamboo stakes to move the vines. It has produced some amazing flavored fruit. The first flush is over but the plant is not. It is getting new growth and has never stopped blooming. I was thrilled to find one this morning that I didn't know was there! I've saved seed from a couple of them for next year. I've saved seeds from things for as long as I can remember. I've contemplated throwing them all out at the back of the property and see what happens 😂

    I also have a pineapple plant. I've been giving the tops to a neighbor who plants them. I thought "what the heck" and stuck one of the tops in one of my raised beds. I've really had to work keeping the cantaloupe vines from burying it. But the leaves have given some shade to the pineapple so that's probably a good thing. I love experimenting lol!

  • Bryce LangebartelsBryce Langebartels Posts: 47 ✭✭✭

    I planted radishes from seed for the first time this year. They popped up so fast and were fun to watch grow. I'm really excited to try out some others this fall...cabbage, lettuces, spinach, radishes again, and more!

Sign In or Register to comment.