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Volunteer cucurbit seedling: to pull or not to pull?

Cathy S.
8 years ago

A few weeks ago, I found a cucurbit seedling (gourd family) growing in what is now my herb bed. Feeling excited that the birds or squirrels left me pleasant surprise, I transplanted the little seedling into a prepared mound. Despite the arguably cool weather for such a plant, it is growing quite well. The first true leaf showed up this week, which confirmed my notion that this was, in fact, some sort of squash, melon, or cucumber.

But then I began to do a little more investigating, and found that the cucurbitaceae family hosts many plants (with nearly identical seedlings) that aren't too desirable to vegetable gardeners, such as White Bryony, a noxious and poisonous plant, or Bur Cucumber, an aggressive vine that produces inedible fruits. On top of that, I've found several similar seedlings popping up in numerous places around the garden, in the same herb bed and elsewhere, suggesting a more commonly found seed. So, now I'm a little skeptical that my "surprise" isn't quite as pleasant as I first assumed.

And finally, even if it were a plant that produced the types of fruits that vegetable gardeners typically seek out, who's to say that it hasn't been cross pollinated or that it'll be any good, anyway?

Despite all the reasons not to let this mystery plant continue to take up garden space, water, and fertilizer, I am still very tempted to let it keep growing, at least until it flowers. I'm extremely curious about what kind of plant it is exactly, and who knows, what if it grows up to be a tasty melon?

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