Mysteries in the Garden

Pretty, pink and rose flowered pea.

This morning, after reading several blogs by new gardeners, I took a meander around my own potager, and thought “Yes, I can see why they are confused and uncertain.” A new gardener who plants a packet of “Green Arrow” peas, as I did, might be worried if a plant with pink flowers showed up (as this one and a few others did here) rather than white. “Is something wrong with the soil?” “Did I over fertilize that spot?” “Is it poisonous?”

In this case, we have a snow pea which may have been hiding in the machine that packages seeds when they changed from processing one variety to another. This can happen. I should pull it out, because every time I pick the “Green Arrow” peas there are the pods from this pea which are filled with small, firm, somewhat tasteless peas. Or, if I could remember to do so, I could pick the pods before they fill with peas and just snack on them because there is only two or three at a time, not enough to bother with in the kitchen.

A cabbage with crepey skin?

If this wrinkled mass showed up in a row of otherwise smooth-leaved cabbages, the new gardener worries “What did I do wrong?” “Does it have a disease?” “Should I pull it out so the others don’t get it?” “Is it being attacked by bugs?”

Another case of an “off” seed in the packet. I recognize this as a savoy cabbage, but a new gardener might be clueless. I’ll let it grow because I love those blue-green leaves and eventually it will go to the kitchen, even though I generally don’t grow savoy types because I think they are harder to wash and have more places for bugs to hide.

Mystery squash…..a common problem.

This is a mystery squash. Squash have a way of just popping up, in the compost pile, or in the garden beds. However, this mystery squash is of my own making. You see, like some other gardeners, this sudden “lockdown” cancelled my normal seed-shopping spree so I’m using up old seeds. I planted one pot each of the 4 varieties of summer squash left in the seed box, some dating back to 2014. After patiently waiting for 3 weeks, there was nothing, so I pulled the labels and replanted the pots with some old nasturtium seeds. Two weeks later, a squash plant pushed up through the soil! It’s the only one to germinate, but I have no idea what variety it is. So, even as an experienced gardener, I was not patient enough. I should have remembered that “Old seeds can be slow seeds!” New gardeners often have even less patience, and I’ve read of some who have dumped pots that didn’t germinate (or more likely egg carton “seed trays”) into their compost pile. They may be creating even more mysteries!

While mysteries can be frustrating, they are also part of the gardener’s world. “Who ate that plant?” “Why is this plant growing so much faster than its neighbors?” “Why did that flower change color?” “Why aren’t my tomatoes ripening as fast as last year?” It’s all part of gardening, and what makes it fun, and challenging, and interesting even after fifty years!

About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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16 Responses to Mysteries in the Garden

  1. cnw says:

    Hmm.. I wonder if the mystery squash is zucchini? We started planting some this year and they kind of look like them? But I’m a new gardener, so I still know very little 🙂

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    • carolee says:

      It’s most likely a zucchini, since three of the 4 were (the 4th was a Sunburst) but only time will tell! Best of luck with yours. So far, my mystery plant has only produced male flowers, which is not unusual. Some people think it’s the plant’s way of getting pollinators in the habit of visit while the plant builds strength and vigor for actually making fruit! Nature is so clever!

      Liked by 1 person

      • cnw says:

        Yes, I agree! Nature is so smart! Interesting to read about the flowers. I have two zucchini plants now with flowers. Excited for when the zucchini is ready!

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  2. Lauren says:

    I love this- and it’s so true! I read posts by new gardeners and they’re so concerned over little things- saw one concerned about a torn leaf on their zucchini plant the other day! My thoughts always go to “oh honey child” when I see that… but I remember those overconcerned early days! Besides- that’s how you “develop” a green thumb… with concern and observation- they’ll get there!

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    • carolee says:

      So true! They’ll quickly learn that one little bug bite does not generally affect the plant or its ability to produce (unless that bug was carrying a virus, but the less said about virus at these times the better for now!) But, as you say, observation is a great teaching device. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Eden says:

    My father in law keeps a lemon tree indoors. One day it sent up a shoot that ended up growing taller than the tree itself! They let it go, and noticed that it wasn’t fruiting lemons, but PEPPERS! Which I am told are outrageously spicy. Funny how those things happen.

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  4. Karen Jones says:

    I have been gardening 45 years , this year I have a 6 foot fully loaded red climbing rose that my daughter bought me for mothers day 6 years ago when it was a peach colored and 2 foot tall ..I assume we lost the original rose graft and this is root stock gone crazy !! Or my deep dark purple family lilac that our family has grown for 100 years has gradually turned lighter the past few years …what’s up with that I wonder ..always a mystery !

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  5. Peg says:

    Yes, gardening will definitely make you ask questions. Right now, I keep saying, “When is it ever going to turn warmer?”

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    • carolee says:

      “Warmer” is not the question here AT ALL! It’s hot! Our question is “When is it ever going to rain?” Normally at this time of year we get about 1″ per week. We haven’t had even close to 1/2″ in 6 weeks, and drying winds daily so the field crops are beginning to look bedraggled.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Peg says:

        Totally understand. We only get around 8” of precipitation a year, so not counting on much rain anytime soon. Hope you get yours!

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  6. I have been gardening a few years now but still have to leave weeding until everything is quite big because I can’t recognise what is weed and what is my precious seed. Labels get lost or illegible, self seeds appear, things I planted vanish, it is all very confusing but somehow I still get stuff to eat.

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  7. Each year I grow Carouby de Maussane’ mangetout peas with pink flowers. They are extremely productive one of my favourites, but you must pick the pods young to eat whole or they go a bit “stringy”.

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