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Self-seeding leads to happy garden accidents – The Guardian

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A piece in praise of accidental planting. Or at least, allowing some self-seeding. Every year, now, we have red orach, though it was last sown here 10 years ago. The purple seedlings start sprouting early, signalling when our soil is warm enough to germinate. A trigger to sow our own rows. Some I eat young as salad. Others I cook later, like a crimson spinach. But I always leave a few plants to grow tall and punctuate through the chard and beetroot leaves.

It’s the same, of course, with the nasturtium and calendula that pop up in what might at first feel like an inappropriate place, but with some small management work well and is easy to work around. Others I will move or perhaps not want this year, but being open to some randomness in my growing increasingly appeals.

We have five self-seeded sunflowers currently towering at the plot (they seem to grow a few inches a day). Howard wasn’t sure at first about letting them stay. but I was keen they remain where they were.

They create structure without much shade and I am loving them this year. I don’t yet know what colours or variety they are. It will be easier to see when they flower.

I probably draw the line at growing potatoes from spuds I missed last year, but it seems to suit me and the space to let other things happen. We have a random but beautiful 6ft fennel growing in harmony with the peas. There is always amaranth that I like to watch grow through to flower and seed (hence its repeated presence every year).

Maybe I’ve relaxed a little now I am older, but keeping something of a wind-sown plot can make for a beautiful thing. So, take this as a quiet plea to not automatically weed out everything that wasn’t first planned.

Allan Jenkins’s Morning (4th Estate, £8.99) is out now. Order it for £7.91 from guardianbookshop.com

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