I recently posted a picture of an African Horned Cucumber (also called Jelly Melon)  onto a gardening Facebook group. Within a few minutes tons of people had asked about this curious, spiny cucumber. Most wanted to share their interest or asked for more information and more pictures. Then, a day later a man (let’s leave him nameless) posted the comment: “it’s not ripe it should be yellow”.

In an instant the bubble of joy and enthusiasm I felt at sharing my discovery of a new cucumber variety was well and truly popped I can debate about the value of green cucumbers over yellow ones but it got me thinking about how often the fear of getting it “right”, frankly, rains on our parades (or cucumbers in this instance).

I’m a member of a ton of gardening groups online and there are two main threads:

– Look at this amazing cucumber / lettuce / apple / whatever I grew!

– Am I doing it right?

The anxiety coming from the later is as palpable as the wonder and joy from the former.

It seems that too often, in our enthusiasm to share what we have done, we imply that our way is right and any other way wrong. Gardening is chock a block with people telling us that their way of gardening (straw bale, square foot, Eden, permaculture) is not only right but the only right.  In doing so we diminish one of the great pleasures of gardening – there is a big dollop of the unknown in it: The melons that were sweet and delicious last year are watery and bland this. Last year’s crop failure didn’t predict this years bumper harvest. Gardening demands that we are patient and willing to take a leap of faith.

I am happiest in the garden when I think of myself as an enlightenment era amateur scientist: experimental and willing to be awed by natures bounty. Trying to get it right leaves me miserable (and inside the house).

I don’t know which is the right way to eat a cucumber. I am unrepentant.

a jelly melon cucumber  I may have planted too many cucumbers