I hadn't planted it, at least not this year. I did put in some "mixed greens" seeds in that general area - about two years ago. The plant was right where I planned to put a tomato, so I just put the tomato next to it and hoped they wouldn't interfere too much while I figured out if the mystery plant was friend or foe.
Then I posted the photo to FaceThing and asked friends: should I eat it?
Responses varied. Here's a sample:
* It looks like a red mustard green. I have some Asian ones. If you grew a salad greens or stirfry mix, it might be from that. Or perilla--there's a red type.
* The question is.....will it eat you? (my favorite response)
* No. But I wouldn't eat it if was served to me at a 4-star restaurant.
* Looks like something my horse would not eat; if they don't eat it, I don't. (ok, this was the same commenter as above, but I thought it deserved its own entry)
* I'd eat it. It might be hallucinogenic lettuce.
* Why take a chance?
* Let another set of leaves grow. Sometimes you get surprised and then other times just another weed. Just make sure it's not jimsonweed, an entire family had hallucinations a few years back when they tossed it in some soup.
Note the range from "Yes!" to an emphatic "No." Note also two references to hallucinogens. Who are these friends of mine? By the way, the conversation devolved from here into me offering to dig up jimsonweed (which I can ID, and this is not it) from my parents' yard to give to the guy who suggested hallucinogenic lettuce.
I'm not a particularly adventurous eater, so I knew before I asked the question that I wasn't going to try it. But I also knew my more culinarily adventurous dad would be coming to visit in a few weeks, and he'd probably be willing to take a nibble. So I let it stay. And grow.
Dad arrived, nibbled, and declared: mustard. So my first respondent was correct. Congratulations, cousin Sue! We had some in our salad that same night.
A little mustard goes a long way. Can't say I've harvested any since - it's not really my favorite green, though it does bring back some good childhood garden memories.
Now it is bolting:
It is also as tall as the tomato and shading my little basils. Off to the compost pile!