MOST people who aren't too caught up in their thoughts would at some time have noticed plants growing in the cracks in concrete or in the mortar joints of brick paving. Often, these plants will be weeds but it is not uncommon for them to be vegetables.
My first experience of this was seeing a tomato seedling sprouting from between two bluestone pitchers that were part of the lining of an open drain in a Wonthaggi back lane. I monitored the growth of this plant on a daily basis en route to my primary school until the day there was a ripe tomato hanging from it. I ate it there and then. Since that time, my eye has been caught by tomato plants in a variety of locations including the gap between the concrete and a traffic light pole in a city.
Nobody planted these seeds. They were possibly carried in the wind or the feathers or droppings of a bird or animal. Not only was there no soil preparation, there was no soil.
The truth is, plants are just itching to be born into this world. Some come from seeds with the proverbial patience of Job and can lie dormant for many years while others seem to jump out of the ground as soon as their seeds touch earth.
There are two gardens at my place; the one that I cultivate and the one that has established itself independently. For some years there has been a patch of parsley growing under the south west wall of my house. Some of the plants are actually under the house. This section of the yard receives no sun at all for nine months of the year and about four hours of late afternoon sun in the summer but the parsley is there all year round. Some of it goes to seed and the crop regenerates.
There is another patch of parsley behind the garage on the edge of the back lane. I have heard a story about an elderly Greek woman who laughed at the idea of people paying for parsley. I understand her sentiment.
In the back yard there is a stack of bricks under the fig tree. Every autumn, leaves fall onto the bricks and those that are not removed rot where they fall. Earlier this year I noticed carrot leaves growing from a hole of one of the bricks. Yesterday I lifted the brick and found that it had grown through to the layer below. Bearing in mind that these particular bricks are twice the height of standard ones, the carrot is about 10 inches (25cms) long.
Further along the stack, two stalks of wheat have appeared. Last year I was given a small amount of wheat which I fed to the chooks. I suspect a bird ate some of it and then later, while having a fig for dessert, deposited the undigested seed.
Outside of the cultivated garden, some determined radicchio has managed to make its way through the thick mesh of kikuyu lawn. It gets a regular mowing.
So what's the lesson in all this? In order to have a garden, sometimes all you need to do is not interfere.