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.
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.
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!