“Weeds” in my Vermicompost!!

Squash Plant in My Flower Bed
A rebel squash(?) plant seems keen to take over one of my flower beds

One of the “disadvantages” of vermicomposting, vs regular thermophilic (hot) composting is that the process does not kill off any of the seeds present in the waste materials being processed, so you can end up with a fair number of seedlings popping up in your garden (or even in your worm bin) as a result.

As someone who has tried germinating ALL manner of seeds over the years, and who partially enjoys “growing stuff” just for the sake of seeing more vibrant green foliage in my yard, I think this kind of adds to the fun – ESPECIALLY when the plant in question is some type of crop plant.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’ve certainly pulled my fair share of unwanted tomato seedlings (and of course, oodles of actual weeds). All I’m getting at here is that it CAN be enjoyable to let some of these plants grow – especially when you are not 100% sure what they are!

Some of you may recall my posts about the “watermelon plants” I had growing in one of my beds a couple of years ago. Sure, I ended up feeling a little disappointed once I realized they were buttercup squash (DOH!), but it was still fun watching them grow!

This year when I noticed a few squash-family plants springing to life in my beds I decided to welcome them with open arms! OK, so maybe I was going to yank the one in the flower bed (first pic) initially, but I figured it would just peter out on its own. Thus, when I saw that it was continuing to grow (and actually thrive), I developed a new-found respect for it – and decided to actually nurture it in an effort to see what would happen. This particular flower bed received (early in the spring) a LARGE quantity of old vermicompost from the old winter worm bed we set up at my dad’s place about a year and a half ago. My dad had some butternut squash growing in the bed last summer (and I’m pretty sure most if not all the squash fruit were left on the plants), so there is a reasonable chance that this is what I’ve got growing as well.

In the windrow bed running alongside my row of corn, there are two squash family plants, and one of them is doing REALLY well (the hot, sunny, rainy weather probably doesn’t hurt)! I hope at least one of these turns out to be a cantaloupe – you would think I’d have one of these pop up at some point. I’ve certainly added enough of the seeds to my worm beds over the past few years. I’ve never grown a cantaloupe plant before, and the fruit is certainly a big hit in our household, so my fingers are crossed. Anyway – I guess we shall see!

The crop plants I HAVE actually been yanking like normal weeds this year are potatoes. I basically let them grow in wherever they wanted last year, and just ended up disappointed with the results. They take up a fair amount of room (or at least room that could be used by a more desirable plant), and are so readily (and cheaply) available at the grocery store, I just figured I’d much rather grow more tomatoes instead!

Yanking these potato plants sure makes you realize how much like weeds they really are sometimes! haha
Unless you dig all those tubers out, you can end up pulling plants all summer long! Oh well – at least they are not as annoying as those prickly thistle weeds!

Anyway – I will certainly keep everyone posted!
I am curious to find out if others have these sorts of unexpected plants coming up in your gardens, and if so, whether or not you are letting them grow – please leave a comment if you’d like to share.

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    • LARRY D.
    • July 23, 2010

    I’ve been pulling mine.But the picture of the potato has me wanting to mention what i plan to try as soon as i find the suitable potato for my area.
    An organic master gardener has me hooked on trying the coco coir.And Bentley i will post the coir source to your email account.Just in case you find his prices amazing.My shipment came amazingly fast.
    Any way,he said you can cut the bottom out of a trash can.And start the spud in the bottom,then keep buildind up as it grows.When you harvest, just lift the can and the spuds just roll out.That way you don’t have to do quite as much back breaking work.Sounds like a winner to me!

    • John Duffy
    • July 24, 2010

    My dad’s garden had a bunch of “volunteer” (tomato & potato) plants as we call them here in the midwest. I encouraged him to transplant them into his regular rows. They seem to be doing just fine so far. I am trying to wean my dad from chemical fertilizers & pest control measures in favor of more organic solutions. We’ve come to realize that Sevin dust seems to just make potato bugs fatter & more abundant. I think the little beasts have developed an immunity to the stuff. My mom seems to derive some degree of morbid pleasure from picking & squishing the invaders.
    Does anyone have a good (organic) solution for controlling potato bugs? The little buggers are almost as prolific as red worms.

    • Tom Stewart
    • July 24, 2010

    I had a compost bin set up that I filled late last fall and thru the winter. One of the things I put in there was horse manure (I pick it up by the truck load…free!) and the lady that owns the horses gives them watermellon and cantalope as a treat. I took the bin apart with the intention of turning the compost, but I saw a plant starting to grow in the middle of the pile. So I have let it grow and now it has 5 good size watermellon on it. Also there is a cantalpoe plant right in the middle of everything. Your right, it is neet to see what will come up and what you can harvest.

    • Michele
    • July 26, 2010

    I decided to try your vermi-trench idea this year with a very small herb garden. Of course, I added vermicompost to the garden when I planted to get things rolling. I have TONS of plants that sprouted from that. Mostly from the squash family as well. I know that several are acorn squash b/c they have already born fruit and at least one watermelon. Still waiting to see what most of the plants produce though. Its like Christmas in July! I have never been able to grow a thing (terrible brown thumb) so I was so excited I just let nature take it course.
    Overall, the garden is doing great. My sister absolutely freaked over my huge, very green parsley 🙂

    • Jillian
    • July 28, 2010

    If you are allowed under local zoning laws, get some chickens! They LOVE tomato worms.

    • Jillian
    • July 28, 2010

    Btw, I got quite a few volunteer melon plants this year. Too bad we’re in a condo and have absolutely no room for them!

    • norah
    • August 21, 2010

    I have to tell you that I tried a winter worm windrow, as per your instructions, last fall and I have had so many pumpkin plants come out of it. I dumped the remains of the Halloween pumpkins in the row in December! I have had to pull many of them as they grew so fast and prolifically! They took over the bed and were crowding the tomatoes.

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