15. October 2010 · Comments Off on Volunteerism · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

Today I’m going to talk to you about “volunteers”.

“Oooo…what kind of volunteers?”

Well, not this kind (although he sure is cute!):

Smokey is the University of Tennessee’s mascot.  There’s a real one and a costumed one. 

“Are you going to talk about your military service?”

Nope, not that kind either. Although an essay about volunteerism in America would be nice…I won’t be writing it though.

But here’s a New Oxford Dictionary definition for you.

volunteer |?väl?n?tir|
• a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.
• a person who works for an organization without being paid.
• a person who freely enrolls for military service rather than being conscripted, esp. a member of a force formed by voluntary enrollment and distinct from the regular army.
• a plant that has not been deliberately planted.
• Law: a person to whom a voluntary conveyance or deposition is made.

Today I’m going to discuss the 4th definition, the one related to plants.  This season I was overwhelmed with “volunteer” plants because of all the seeds that I let into my compost bin.  I have a nice household-sized compost bin that easily disassembles, so we can move around with it.  My composting ambitions are a bit frustrated from the moving around, since it takes about 2 years before I have a good enough batch to really impact my gardening.

Anyway, when I have a summer garden, I will “side dress” my plants with several handfuls of compost about every 6 weeks.  Often, that’s all the fertilizer my plants need, and all is well with the world.  Tomato seedlings will commonly pop up all over the place, and every few days I’d just pluck them out and pitch them right back into the compost bin.  No guilt.

This year, I had a lot of blank spots in my garden so I let some of the tomato plants persist starting in late August and I have some nice green fruits.

From 2010 10 15 Garden Volunteers

But this was a nice surprise — cantaloupe!  When this seedling came up back in August, I had no idea whether this would be watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin or cucumber.  Seeds from all those veggies were somewhere in the compost.  For fun, I decided to let it ride and see what happened.  I have counted SEVEN little melons on this vine.

From 2010 10 15 Garden Volunteers
From 2010 10 15 Garden Volunteers

I thought I’d share the fun before I cut down the volunteers, our first frost is due here any day now, and I also need to retreive the tomato and pepper cages before the movers come in 4 weeks.

Here’s are the other items I’ll be harvesting soon. I’m trying to milk this mild weather for as long as I can — lows around 40, highs in the mid-70s.


From 2010 10 15 Garden Volunteers

And WATERMELON! Four of them ready to harvest!

From 2010 10 15 Garden Volunteers
I think this one is about 8-10 lbs.!
From 2010 10 15 Garden Volunteers
From 2010 10 15 Garden Volunteers
From 2010 10 15 Garden Volunteers