Truly Unexpected Volunteers!

We compost our vegetable waste, coffee grounds and corks.  Last winter, for the first time, I kept adding to the compost all year long.  In the Fall, it was a little surprising to open the container and have steaming, stinky, compost air hit you in the face, but eventually it did get cool enough to stop really “cooking”.

(A farmer told me you could reactivate it during the winter by urinating on the compost pile, but I chose not to experiment with that one.  Maybe one of the guys can try it next winter and let us know how that works out).  🙂

We planted a garden this year and used a lot of the compost, definitely before it was completely broken down.  We have some very “squash-y” looking plants that volunteered and we are just waiting to see if we get warty pumpkins, or some other exotic squash from last year’s CSA. We do have a few volunteer tomatoes again this year that we are looking forward to as well.

There were a few other green leafy plants that did not look like lettuce.  We had no idea what they were, but the leaves were pretty and green, so maybe it was some sort of a flower.  I had geraniums planted in that area last year and had dahlias in there before that.

What IS it?

What IS it?

They  didn’t look like geraniums at all, but could be some sort of dahlia.  They did not look evil, like a weed. So we decided to let them grow and see what they might turn into.

Tonight I was weeding in the garden (for the first time in weeks, so there were LOTS of weeds).  I saw these plants and by now they are about 18 inches tall, the bugs were getting to the leaves, and they still didn’t seem to be doing anything, so I decided to pull them out and make room for something yummy, like beets.

I pulled out the plant and threw it in my weed basket, then turned to see if there were more and lo on the ground in front of me there were these –



Holy cow!  I ran in the house to show the kids, who were suitably impressed.  My husband was out in the yard somewhere, so we started around the house to show him.  We picture the aerial view as him walking around the house looking for us, me with the two kids, a colander of dirty potatoes and a plant in my hands walking in circles looking for him, and the cat following us all trying to figure out WHAT the heck all the fuss is about.


They cleaned up quite nicely and we are debating the best way to use our seven volunteer potatoes to get the biggest bang for our compost surprise buck.  🙂

The plant had a few tiny danglers on the roots, so we threw them back in the garden and hopefully we will get more.  The other plants we left to see if the potatoes get bigger.  When do you know it is time to harvest potatoes?

And can I get volunteer wine from those corks?  😉

About csamom

Living in Eastern Washington State for the past 15 years, I appreciate the wonderful produce we have available here. I am a working mom, with the typical active family. We have two children, a cat, a fish, and a snake.
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4 Responses to Truly Unexpected Volunteers!

  1. gardenjon says:

    Great post! And I didn’t know that about the winter reactivation…. hard to picture it working when the pile is frozen solid but I may be tempted….

    • csamom says:

      Thanks Jon. I suppose you would have to reactivate before it is a frozen clump. Working the pile all winter did consume a lot of waste, even though it isn’t totally composted.

      When I left the pile all winter, with no additions, by spring it was very fine like potting soil. I can’t find the picture, but I had photographed it to share with a friend. I guess we are into our compost here. 😉

  2. I spent a few happy hours earlier this week emptying one of my compost bins and mulching all the plants, then creating a few new layers for the recently-harvested/recently planted garlic/basil bed. I will never tell what I do to keep my compost happy . . . but I will say that watching nothing much happen during the winter outdoors while the worm bin went happily crazy was great fun over the winter. Lovely to have worm castings to make the indoor plants happy and worm castings for the outdoor early spring planting.

    I totally recognized the potato leaves, but none ever grow from my compost. Only strange squash (this year is round, ish, a bit different than last year’s pumpkin).
    Nice to see a post from you–thanks!

  3. Oh my word. You got potatoes from your compost!! Now, that is remarkable. Oh and I’m totally asking the Hubby to pee on ours come winter because that’s not weird. Boys like to pee outside; it should be fine.

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