Plants Want to Grow

While strolling through my neighbourhood, I recently came upon two rogue edibles, a basil plant and an amaranth that had escaped from front yard gardens nearby only to make a go at life in soiless conditions.

I found the basil growing in a crack between the curb and the road. An attempt to rescue it failed. That plant was rooted in there solidly! Basil are not the most forgiving herbs and can be a bit finicky about soil nutrition and water, so this find was a surprise.

I spotted the amaranth a few streets over growing out of the space between sidewalk blocks. This find comes as no surprise as amaranth can withstand a lot and their seeds (which are many) have the ability to scatter far and wide.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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11 thoughts on “Plants Want to Grow

  1. I love this post! It is surprising about the basil, but just goes to show you that mother nature will NOT be beaten back. Also the plant growing underneath the basil, I recently learned is delicious and high in Omega 3! It’s call purslane or pigweed. However for anyone who is reading this there is a poisonous cousin, so make sure of what you are picking. Apparently if you pick it and it puts out a milky sap, don’t eat it! The article I found this info with pictures:

    Enjoy! And yay for edible weeds! (Makes them easier to weed if they are ending up in your supper)

  2. Wow. So true. And, like a few other commenters… that basil kicks me in the butt. I suck at growing basil, and there it is, just demanding to live between the cracks. Hmph!

  3. The little invader is indeed Purselane – is related to Portulaca, makes a great salad green and self-seeds like crazy! Pigweed is another name for Amaranth (that is a beautiful specimen in your photo, btw) and very plain when compared to the example above. It’s grown both as a green, eaten raw or steamed and is also one of the Ancient Grains.
    (Perhaps we should take a lesson from these two(three) very healthy specimens: just enough water, but not too much and a good, even root temperature (as the concrete would heat and cool slowly throughout the day; )

  4. Jennifer: Yes! I am a big purslane fan. We eat it through the summer months. It’s hard to misidentify spurge for Purslane. Spurge is not succulent. It is course and wiry.

  5. I found surprise sunflowers growing in my basement window surround in the gravel with little to no water and barely any sun – they are so happy there. I believe the seeds came from bird feed.

  6. This year. I’ve experienced the same situation with basil, dill, and tomatoes. Mysterious plantings! These plants only seem to transplant well if you can dig deeply enough to capture the entire root ball.

  7. I love basil…The rich smell and the fresh taste….This made me laugh so hard! I treat basil like it is a delicate little flower….and who would of known !!
    I’m enjoying reading the section in “You Grow Girl” about basil and other herbs as a natural insect control product…..

  8. Lol, I feel like I grew an entire garden in the cracks in my sidewalk this season. I had violas, petunias and now sweet peas. Apparently the late season flowers self seeded before I dead-headed them. The peas are my fault-I dropped a spoon of seeds while sowing the second batch.

    The neighbor thought it was adorable to have flowers in every crack in the driveway though. In a handful of colors. :)

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