Last week I noticed that my lemon cucumbers were not turning out to be lemon cucumbers, at least in the case of one plant. This week, I noticed that some of my squash are also behaving strangely. The problem seems to be confined to one corner of the garden:
The zucchini’s behavior is the most bizarre. These are what I expect to find inside a zucchini plant:
This is what I found inside one of the plants that I transplanted from the cow pasture:
Again, what I expect to find amid the giant green stalks and leaves of a zucchini plant:
Simple enough, you say: what I found in the cow pasture was not a zucchini and I should not have assumed it was just because we grow a lot of zucchini and the plant looked like a zucchini. But here is what I found inside the Black Beauty straggler that I transplanted from the main zucchini bed:
Aha! But maybe there were some other seeds in that zucchini bed, from a previous growing season. Seeds that are supposed to produce things exactly like that one! This would make sense except that no one in the family recognizes the strange egg-shaped thing growing in these impostor plants. None of us have planted them before… and the beds we are using, well they came from mushroom growers. That is definitely not a mushroom. To confuse matters further, this morning I found that the Black Beauty straggler is actually trying to multi-task:
Maybe its round baby fruit is really just a fat version of a normal zucchini? Could that be?
Am I overreacting? Could these all be perfectly normal zucchini?
So what is going on? Have the cow pasture zucchini and the Black Beauty straggler cross pollinated with the lemon cucumber, which is not a lemon cucumber at all? Or is it? Did it swap shapes with the nearby zucchini?
Is the new little runt cucumber the real lemon cucumber? If it harbors such power in its shrunken, curled little leaves, why isn’t the original supposed-to-be-a-lemon-cucumber making lemon cucumbers?
On a positive note, the two-for-one runt lemon cucumber plant was looking very poorly for a week or so but has recovered and started producing blooms again. That is a good thing, unless those blooms are secretly altering the DNA of everything around them. When I first started the garden, I specifically moved the lemon cucumber all the way across the garden from the burpless cucumber so that it could be itself and not have to conform to the burpless ideal of fruit. I had no idea that the cucumber might change the zucchini…
But perhaps I am blaming the wrong neighbor. Maybe this is the culprit:
Those are the yellow summer squash plants, which are supposed to produce flattish yellow fruit with scallops around the edges. That is what I was harvesting a couple of weeks ago. Now the fruit is coming slower and does not look the same:
The yellow squash plant is now producing distinctly less flat and scalloped fruit than it did at the start of the season. Thankfully, once you chop them all up together and cook them, they taste much the same as before. At least for now they do.
Back at the other end of the garden, my pepper plants are wilting nicely. It is difficult to see them so droopy but I am fighting the urge to water them daily. Wilting is good for them, or so the internet tells me.
One plant, labelled a Sweet Banana pepper, clearly has started making something like a pepper:
I will not hazard a guess as to what shape or color that green nub will take, no matter what the label says.