Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Surprise me!

Ok, I'm not usually one to want surprises in my garden.  I like to know what's coming and plan ahead, which I know is kind of like begging for disappointment when you're dealing with nature, and I like to think I can roll with the punches pretty well, I just don't like to go around asking for punches to roll with!

But, based on Pam's (Pam's English Garden) recommendation on her blog here, I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (I'm enjoying it a lot--there's a little preachiness, but much more a very delightful account of her and her family's year of local food and gardening).  

That, combined with some interesting sustainable gardening posts here on Jan's Thanks for Today blog, and some general "Heirloom Seed" shout-outs that seem to be everywhere lately...

I seem to have jumped both feet into the historic varieties deep end, at least long enough to purposely and intentionally order something completely unknown and unpredictable.

That's right...I'm going to be growing Pineapple Melon.

What is Pineapple Melon, you ask?  Um...well...beats the heck out of me...

I was charmed by Baker Creek's recent resurrection of Comstock Ferre seeds and requested their free catalog.  Flipping through it during the early spring grays, dreaming imaginary dreams of Rose and I sitting out on the patio in the summer sunshine, gazing at the lovely flowers and cracking open ripe sweet melons for a refreshing summer snack...

I think there must have been some strange fairy magic afoot--I turned right to the melon section (never mind that I've never successfully grown a melon) and saw this:

Pineapple (melon)
This historic heirloom was grown by Thomas Jefferson in 1794. It was offered commercially in America in 1824, and it was illustrated in color in France in 1854 in the Vilmorin Album. This wonderful variety is very rare. The productive plants can be trained on a trellis. The fruit is highly perfumed. This was one of the ten melons we offered in 1846 from our Wethersfield Seed Gardens.

Contains 35 heirloom seeds
And I was all: "Thomas Jefferson (I went to UVA, it's a Pavlovian thing)... 1824... Vilmorin Album (I'm a sucker for botanical illustrations, see "addiction, Botanical Interests seed company")... productive... trellis (remember, space, especially sunny space, is an issue here)... highly perfumed" and before you could say, "what on earth are you doing?" I was completely sold on having this glorious thing in my garden.

So...skip ahead to now--the seeds are ordered and on their way and I'm wondering what on earth I've gotten myself into!  Is it red? green? yellow? netted? smooth? crisp?   Darned if I know.

Googling was not especially helpful.  It might look like this:

Photo by Andy Nightmaar here
or, looking at another seed website, it could look like this:
from Cherry Gal seeds here
or it could look an awful lot like cantaloupe, like this:

from The Seed Kingdom here
or, for something a little different, it could look like this:

from Kokopelli seeds here
The funniest part is each of the 3 seed catalogs linked above all say "this" is the variety Thomas Jefferson grew...

Curiouser and curiouser!

I'm feeling a bit like Jack and the Beanstalk; I'll throw these seeds in the ground and wait to see just exactly what grows up my trellis this summer...stay tuned!


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