Too Many Seedlings!
Last weekend Kirk sowed the seeds for fall broccoli and cabbage. A day later, this is what we woke up to:
After Kirk assured me he didn't just broadcast the seeds all over the bed, we figured out that they were probably mustard seedlings. The birds got a lot of the seed heads before we harvested it, so we figured the house finches probably dropped seeds in these beds as they flew away.
But then we noticed that there were hardly any seedlings popping up in the newly-cleared bed where the mustard plants used to be. That didn't add up with the "birds are messy eaters" theory of these seeds spreading around, because the most would have been dropped right where they were picking at them.
Then we took a walk past the compost bins:
More mustard seedlings! Mystery solved: To amend the beds for fall planting, we used compost from the bottom of the bin where I had thrown the stems and chaff, so obviously a good deal of seeds ended up there as well.
This doesn't say much for our composting system. We probably should be paying better attention to turning it and rotating it and using the oldest stuff. I know some people are really into the layering and have a system that keeps their piles really hot and efficient. We don't. We just throw stuff in and wait a year or two.
Because all those new shoots of mustard look just like the brassica we were trying to grow, it would be at least a week or two until we'd be able to tell them apart by their secondary leaves. And by then, it would be such a pain to pull out the mustard weeds and keep the broccoli that we decided to turn the beds again and re-sow. So far that looks to have worked well — we're not seeing tons of mustard seedlings in those beds this time around.