Every year we have volunteers in our garden. Granted, these aren't the kind of volunteers you're probably thinking of - these are plant volunteers. Vegetables that grow either from seed dropped from the plant during the previous summer or from plants that somehow overwintered into the spring.
We always have lots of tomato volunteers - particularly cherry tomatoes. Near the end of the growing season we git a bit lazy about picking tomatoes every day and some eventually fall to the ground (or get relocated by a squirrel). Thus, the next year I pull out a dozen baby tomato plants because they never seem to volunteer where we need them.
We've also had dill grow from seed deposited during the previous year and the same is true of impatiens.
The year before last we had a wonderful pumpkin volunteer growing out of the compost bin. It must have been from one of the girls' novelty pumpkins (or been a hybrid and not bred true) - it made sweet little (five inch in diameter) pumpkins just in time for the fall holidays.
The volunteer of the year this year is a bittersweet addition.
That's a potato plant. A very healthy and happy potato plant (there's another one in a nearby corner of the garden). The last two years we tried (quite unsuccessfully) to grow potatoes. Both years we used versions of the tire-stack method and failed miserably. Initially the plants thrived but by the time we got to the third tire the plants became waterlogged and soggy, despite our attempts to increase drainage to the stack. So each year we abandoned the potatoes and removed the tires to spread out the soil.
To our great surprise, this year there are two volunteer potato plants, each in a location where a tire stack was located last year. Are they plants from the original seed potatoes planted in March 2009? Are they plants growing from maybe one or two baby potatoes that managed to grow before we removed the tires? I have no idea.
What I do know is that apparently we can't grow potatoes unless we aren't trying.
We'll mound the soil up on each plant and see how far the experiment goes this year. A few extra potatoes would be nice, especially after I just read a dozen articles from spring/summer 1943 about an impending potato shortage.
Hopefully, between our volunteers, the farmers market and such there will be no tater shortage for us!