|Camomile, a prolific self-seeder|
CamomileWe seem to get plants a lot earlier than if we sowed them ourselves. The self-sown camomile really gets going rather early in spring and it doesn't mind being transplanted.
BorageA very vigorous self-seeder, borage is an all-round winner in the garden. Beloved by pollinators, with pretty, edible flowers, this nitrogen-fixer can be made into a fertiliser tea just like comfrey and, according to Bob Flowerdew, also makes an excellent green manure.
DillWe let this go to seed anyway, to harvest dill seeds for use in pickles and bread, and it usually comes up the next year.
ParsleyMuch easier to let it self-seed in its second year than to start the seeds indoors in early spring.
|Wild rocket, a welcome 'weed'|
Salad leavesWild rocket is our favourite weed in the veg patch! We always let rocket flower in early spring when there's not much else around for the pollinators and as a bonus comes the vigorous self-seeding that follows. Land cress is a tasty salad crop that self-seeds everywhere but its tendencies do have to be curbed a little.
Coriander is probably the most annoying annual herb to grow. At least under our conditions, it goes to seed so quickly. No sooner are the first leaves out that you need to harvest and freeze away the excess before the plants go all feathery, then flower and go to seed. You might as well exploit that and let the plants seed more rather than having to sow a new batch every few weeks. We also collect some seeds for culinary use and these could be used to sow the following spring.
|You only need to sow them once|
NasturtiumsOur favourite companion plant, nasturtiums are everywhere in the garden. We eat the young leaves and the flowers in salads and pickle the seeds for use on pizzas (and anywhere that capers would be used). Nasturtiums are also brilliant weed suppressing ground cover - we have them around the Jerusalem artichokes, under the bean poles, underneath hedges etc. and actively encourage them to spread into weedy areas across the fence.
|Self-seeded calendula in the wildflower border|
CalendulaAnother great all-round companion plant, calendula pops up early in the year when left to its own devices. We mainly use it to make herbal oil, which is then a key ingredient in lip balm, ointments and lotions. And hopefully soon in our own soap! It's also nice as part of a herbal tea mixture.
|Pretty purple poppy|
WildflowersWe have several kinds of poppies in the garden, including ones with edible seeds for baking. We always collect some seeds to spread them around further, but they do an admirable job of sowing themselves in their wildflower border where they are joined by campion, another lovely self-seeding wildflower.
ParsnipsParsnip seed doesn't store long and is fickle to germinate. We leave a couple of plants in the soil over winter and let them go to seed in spring. We have been collecting the seed for planting the following spring, but the self-seeded plants have been so much earlier and more vigorous than our own efforts that we will simply let the parsnips seed themselves next year.
It's always a nice surprise to see the distinctive seedlings pop up in the spring. You can't mistake a little borage or nasturtium for anything else. Happy lazy gardening, everyone!