Ok, so can we talk about Mystery Gardening?

It happens almost every year: at some point in March, Man Cub & I take over the kitchen table with packets of seeds, dixie cups and any seedling trays we happen to have, and a big bag of potting soil. We fill the cups and trays and stick the seeds in the dirt. Invariably we wind up both planting the same seeds in different ends of the trays. We have full intention to label what we stick in the dirt – it’s just that that doesn’t really ever, well, happen.

What does happen is that we shrug and tell each other that once everything sprouts, we’ll be able to tell a tomato from a cucumber and a melon from a pepper, and then we cover it all with plastic and stick it in the window and wait.

And we can, in fact, tell a cucumber sprout from a tomato sprout and a pepper sprout from a melon sprout – that’s no problem. On the other hand, telling cucumbers from melons from zucchini is a little bit harder. Also, tomatoes and peppers require a few extra days to tell apart. But, fuck it, it all has to end up in the ground anyway, so as soon as the garden is ready, in it all goes. About three weeks later, the real fun begins, when we realize that there are at least two patches that are complete mysteries, surprise! there are jalapenos¬† among the bells, and we may or may not have planted watermelons, but we have no idea what seeds we planted, because we threw out the packets when they were empty, so it might be pumpkins? Lol, whoops.

But let me tell you a secret: I kind of love it. I really love coming out into the garden in August and finding out the true scoop – that cantaloupe vines are clinging to the sunflowers that sprouted from the birdseed traveled from our feeders, and that the watermelon we were waiting to green up* is actually turning yellow because it’s a sweet yellow melon,** and it’s totally ready to be picked. And eaten.

Which is to say, we totally scarfed on yellow melons last night. And while there may not be any watermelons, we had delicious zucchini that I had no idea we even had picked up seeds for.*** Also, the sprouts that came from a packet labeled simply, “Asian Greens,” were tasty in salads. And the snap peas that I supposed were green beans were delicious right off the vine. Maybe at some point we’ll get more organized about this. But when we do, I’ll probably miss the surprise.


*When we first spotted the melon, it was in a tangle of cucumbers – the cucumber plants and the melon plants had spread into each others’ patches like whoa – and we totally thought it was a weird, misshapen cucumber.
**A couple years ago we bought a tiny yellow melon at a farmers market after sampling some at a stand. I saved the seeds as I am wont to do, and they ended up in an envelope with the other seed packets. Apparently the watermelon seeds we bought in February did not actually sprout, but the saved seeds did. Which makes me super happy on a few levels.
***Man Cub knew we had planted it. He was the one who stuck it in the dixie cups. We were talking about other stuff while we set up the sprouts, apparently.