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Self-Seeding Crops: Plant Once and Forget 'Em

12/19/2013 3:03:00 PM

Tags: self-seeding vegetables, self-seeding herbs, Ohio, Melodie Metje

garlic chives

Like flowers, there are also self-seeding herbs and vegetables.  If you are the type that likes to plant once and forget about ‘em, these are the ones for you!

The only trick to the whole adventure is that you have to let them go to seed so they can sow the next season’s crop for you.  When they have produced their seed, you can either let the wind do the work for you or you can cut off the seed head and strategically shake the seed where you would like new plants to come up.

Self-Sowing Herbs

Basil (bring in the volunteers to overwinter in a pot)
Chives (garlic chives are particularly aggressive)

seed stage

Self-Sowing Edible Flowers


Self-Sowing Vegetables

Broccoli raab
Egyptian walking onions
Runner beans
Winter squash

Self-Sowing Greens


French sorrel
French dandelions (bred to have larger, sweeter leaves than “common” dandelions, but both are very nutritious and great in salads)
Miner’s lettuce
Mustards (Giant Red Mustard does great in our garden)
New Zealand spinach
Salad burnet

A gentle watch-out: These are plants that easily self-sow so you can get more than you want over time.  When you get the number you want, just remove future seed heads or start harvesting your new seedlings to sell the plants at your neighborhood farmers market or give away to friends

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Post a comment below.


3/22/2014 8:11:10 AM
Agree with Minnesota on self seeding of tomatoes. It is usually the tomatoes that have smaller fruits that drop and hide under the plant that I get volunteers the next year. Of course, sometimes the birds will peck out a few seeds on the larger tomatoes. The one thing to keep in mind is that if you are growing hybrid tomatoes, you may not get a tomato that looks anything like the mother plant. If you plant heirloom or open pollinated tomatoes, you will get babies that are like their mothers.

2/17/2014 8:24:06 AM
Sorry so late for answering. The white flowering plant is garlic chives! It is beautiful for weeks and the bees love them. If you don't want many new garlic chive plants, be sure to pick off the flower when it goes to seed.

12/23/2013 6:19:22 PM
My most successful self-sowing vegetable has been Swiss Chard. (USDA zone 4.)

12/23/2013 3:12:00 PM
We get rogue cherry tomato plants popping up in our gardern each year. They come from the tomatoes that drop off when we're not looking and then they hide under the weeds, only to get tilled in. It's a nice bonus! I guess we could try and save a few for the seeds and try it on purpose.

12/23/2013 8:10:59 AM
Hello Melodie, I am reading an article you wrote on the Mother Earth News web page. It is about self-seeding plants. The first picture is of a beautiful white plant with tall stems rising from a cluster of leaves. I love this plant!! What is it?? Thank you for your time, and Merry Christmas!! Carol W.

12/23/2013 7:44:19 AM
Interesting article. I would like to know how you let the tomatoes become a seeding crop.

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