A few years ago I decided to dedicate one whole garden bed to growing nothing but things that Thomas Jefferson had grown in his garden at Monticello. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I have this weird fascination with the man and his gardens (and his architecture). So I set about to gather as many varieties as my little raised bed would hold. Of course they had to be heirloom.
I had scarlet runner beans (which are amazingly beautiful when they bloom), Tom Thumb lettuce, and some of these little jewels – Mexican Sour Gherkins. Thomas Jefferson used to have them pickled by the barrel. As I dug the soil and planted the tiny little seeds, I imagined having vast quantities to pickle as well. I only had 10 seeds because none of the seed houses had them that year or sold out of them very fast. I finally found a pack at Territorial Seeds.
The seeds grew and the vines crawled up the little trellis I placed for them. It seemed like months passed before the smallest yellow flowers you’ve ever seen appeared followed by the teeny tiny melons. But ultimately, I ended up with about 10 and then the vines died. I was baffled. They said full sunlight and compost … I had done those things. Regular watering … also done. Disappointed, I made sure to order the seed early the next year. But they did even worse the 2nd time around. Only a few seeds germinated and produced the spindly vines and we had no fruit at all before they again died.
But I am a consumate gardener who is undetered by failure. So for a third year, I purchased more seed and planted the fragile looking plants. One seed germinated. One. It grew 6 inches, then 12, then 18 and then, just as the blooms were setting on, one of my chickens ate it. (no, we didn’t eat him for dinner that night but if words could have boiled his feathers, they would have)
After that, life happened for a couple of years and brought us to the Woods. We’ve been working our a** off to get certain things installed before fall and winter arrive and make them impossible. 1) our water system for the garden and animals and 2) the fence posts. Somedays it seems like we get very little done despite returning to the house exhausted beyond belief, dripping with sweat, and covered in dirt. However, every day we seem to discover something new about our little slice of heaven on earth.
Today we discovered these Mexican Sour Gherkins growing wild and prolifically behind our barn in full shade untouched by the hands of man for years now.
The barn is to the upper left of the pic. We think that table object is an old feed trough. And the yellow string is our property line (the other side of which is a plowed field half-full of weeds).
And there the little beauties are hanging gingerly by tendrils vining profusely among the brush and rotting logs. My mind boggles.
I had posted on Facebook a memory this morning about harvesting garden produce from a couple of years ago and lamented the fact that this year I haven’t been able to garden due to my dad’s death and moving. But I guess God did the gardening for me this year.
Now I wonder if this is a new genetic strain of the plant?? Hmm … heirloom for sure as the property has been untouched for over ten years but could it be more than that? We’ll definitely be saving seeds!