perpetual annuals - this thought keeps coming back to haunt me

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Eumaeus

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Bear with me here - this thought might take a little explaining ;)

I have a certian degree of problems with parsnips - I always get a couple that sit there and sit there until they seed - and then I have parsnips EVERYWHERE.

Same with potatoes - there are always a few that I miss when I am digging - and I usually get qute a healthy "second crop" come up amongst the beans the following year.

And when you think it through - surely that is excatly what nature intended them to do - to replicate themselves and keep growing - usually in pretty close proximity to the parent plant.

Yet we are told (and I have always been a strong proponent of) that crops should be rotated around to minimise pest damage/blight etc .  But surely - nature must have originally had a way for dealing with that problem - potates for example - mostly multiply by the ones left in the ground - not a huge amount of seeding goes on.

So what would be wrong with planting up an area of say parsnips, and just never digging out ALL of them - in theory they should just keep reseeding every year and after a couple of years they should just "be there"

I am sure there must be a flaw in this argument - we have been "gardening" for hundreds and hundreds of years so I am guessing that there must be a reason.  But the thought keeps coming back to me "would it work"

Has anyone ever tried anything like this - or know anyone who has tried it?

Any thoughts/suggestions - feel free to pour scorn - it is probably a crazy idea - I just puzzle constantly over these things LOL

TIA

Eumaeus
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mumofstig

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Just a thought.... It's not that it wouldn't work....wouldn't every disease/pest that is crop specific eventually take up residence in that part of the plot  :unsure:
Lesley x
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Eumaeus

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Well, that is what I am trying to figure out - that is what SHOULD happen.  But what would happen in nature?  If that was the case - then plants would never survive because any naturally occurring plant would be wiped otu by pests?  They would have to have different ways of replicating themselves because although seeds can spread long distances, on the whole they fall "fairly" close to the parent so in theory all plants would end up wiped out by "whatever" ?

Potatoes especially - you would expect them to all be wiped out by blight pretty quickly - but how do they grow naturally?


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DD.

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Just a wild guess here, maybe they don't have blight in the Andes?

Oh - and parsnips as we know them were bred, you won't find them occurring naturally.
Did it really tell you to do THAT on the packet?

Seeds are SOWN, planting's for plants (and bulbs & tubers)!

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Eumaeus

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:) OK bred a swe know them now - but they have been around for a long time - If I remember correctly the Romans brought them north - they were smaller further South and became a larger veg as the climate got colder. 

And I have a sneaky suspicion that they are pretty closely related to the likes of hogweed which will seed and stay around quite happily with no hman intervention?

No Blight in the andes? Maybe not.  I would imagine it is a fair bit colder than here if they are grown at any altitude - but then potatoes don't like the cold/frost either?

I don't know - I am just thinking aloud :)

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mumofstig

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new populations do start further away from the mother plant through wind blown seed and bird spread seed.

Where potatoes are wild, in the Andes, I don't think they have conditions that lead to blight, so tubers would be a good way to overwinter. Interestingly I've just been reading that wild potatoes are fully hardy as they survive mountain winter temperatures  :ohmy:

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JayG

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Potatoes especially - you would expect them to all be wiped out by blight pretty quickly - but how do they grow naturally?

DD has pretty much beaten me to it!! The wild plants brought to Europe in the sixteenth century were from Peru, and no doubt had evolved to cope with both the climate and the pests there.

They have been so intensively grown since that a wide range of pests have evolved to attack them, but the potato plant itself has not been allowed to evolve to keep up with them (mainly because spuds are selected primarily for yield before anything else and farmers still have an amazing arsenal of chemicals at their disposal!)

Species like sweetcorn are also not native to the UK, but have only been grown here for a relatively short space of time, which is no doubt why there are few sweetcorn-specific pests as yet...............
Sow your seeds, plant your plants. What's the difference? A couple of weeks or more when answering possible queries!

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DD.

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.............. until...............

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Irene

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Quote
.............. until...............

The words of an experienced gardener :D

An interesting thread. Thank you for the subject and responses.

Having just come in from the kitchen garden the thought that peas might come up naturally is rather pleasant, though my reality is quite the opposite this year.

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mike1987

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surley tho they would selectivly breed tho with only the strongest running to seed each time and therefore leaving the most suited to the conditions every time

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Eumaeus

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surley tho they would selectivly breed tho with only the strongest running to seed each time and therefore leaving the most suited to the conditions every time

This is the way I was thinking :)

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mumofstig

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do you want to waste your growing space while they make up their own mind which ones are best suited to your plot....the finished selection may not be what you want to grow anyway  :lol:

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chimaera

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There are several things to take into account here;
In the wild plants are not intensively grown, so pests and diseases cannot so easily wipe out an entire population
Crops are selectively bred for characters (ie being good to eat) other than being able to survive in the wild. There are for example several species of wild tomatoes, and the one that probably gave rise to cultivated ones looks nothing like them; a scrambling vine with small yellowish fruit.
Many crops are hybrids or polyployd (mutations with more than 2 sets of DNA) that do not exist in the wild. Some have possibly occurred by natural very rare events (such as the first wheat and maize, neither of which exist in the wild) or by selective breeding (such as loganberries and other hybrids)
Few crops we grow are native to northern Europe (e.g. parsnips, cabbage) and have native pests that feed on them. Others have been imported and either have native pests that have taken to eating them (wireworms did not evolve to eat potatoes, but do so), whilst others have been accidently imported from the place they evolved (such as the recent appearance in Europe of lily beetles).

There is in theory nothing wrong with letting plants propgate themselves, but in reality it is likely that normal evolution would take over and the most competitive, and not best tasting or cropping, strains will survive.

Charlie



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