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Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
Neither silver bells nor cockle shells,
It's something that could explode.
As time counts down, or is it up?
Try to keep your record clean.
The task's not as easy without some luck,
For there's no yellow submarine.
I'll pull a face if you're a disgrace,
So get your irises in a row.

What am I?

I'd like the answers to give explanations for how each clue fits. The first two lines are a single clue. Each other line is its own.

Answer with clues:

Minesweeper

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?

Minesweeper on Windows 7 and later features the option to change the appearance to that of a garden.

Neither silver bells nor cockle shells,

The flowers in the garden theme are daisies.

It's something that could explode.

Mines

As time counts down, or is it up?

The game timer counts up.

Try to keep your record clean.

Cleaning out the mines. Also, keeping your record as clean as possible would also refer to the win ratio.

The task's not as easy without some luck,

Guessing is sometimes required. "As easy" is also wordplay on XYZZY.

For there's no yellow submarine.

The mines have the appearance of naval mines, which would destroy a submarine.

I'll pull a face if you're a disgrace,

The original version of the game has a yellow smiley face that pulls faces, one of them showing when you lose.

So get your irises in a row.

Flags.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, I would not have gotten the garden clues. Great puzzle! $\endgroup$ – AZGreenTea May 5 '16 at 0:45
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This probably isn't it, but I thought it could fit most of the clues!

My guess is:

The game of Minesweeper

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?

The minesweeper grid is like a square shaped garden, with individual square plots.

Neither silver bells nor cockle shells,

Carrying on the famous rhyme from before, the square plots do not contain silver bells nor cockle shells, but...

It's something that could explode.

Mines.

As time counts down, or is it up?

Mines or bombs typically count down, but in the game of minesweeper, the timer counts upwards (so that the faster you complete the game, the better your score!)

Try to keep your record clean.

Obviously, you don't want to uncover a mine, or it's game over.

The task's not as easy without some luck,

Luck is somewhat involved! The first click always requires luck to not hit the bomb. And occasionally there are clicks which you need to make a 50-50 guess.

For there's no yellow submarine.

Tough clue that's a stretch to fit, but it might be referring to the yellow smiley face in the game! http://i.crackedcdn.com/phpimages/article/4/5/4/110454.jpg?v=1

I'll pull a face if you're a disgrace,

If you lose the game, the yellow smiley face becomes this dead one http://www.personal.kent.edu/~bherzog/images/tao-dead.gif

So get your irises in a row.

Another stretch. Perhaps the irises are referring to the minesweeper flags that you plant to indicate mines?

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is probably less a stretch than you think based on OP's most recent riddle solved. $\endgroup$ – SendersReagent May 3 '16 at 3:27
  • $\begingroup$ @SendersReagent Oh! Just checked out his other riddle. Good point! :) $\endgroup$ – AZGreenTea May 3 '16 at 3:30
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    $\begingroup$ Also (just a note), you can't lose on the first click. Just so you know. The board isn't set until the first click. $\endgroup$ – SendersReagent May 3 '16 at 3:33
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    $\begingroup$ This is the answer. You did interpret some clues wrong, though. I'll post the "answer" to each clue in the question inside spoilers. $\endgroup$ – mbomb007 May 3 '16 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ @SendersReagent Up until Windows XP you could lose on the first click, I think. Also, there are clicks with lower chances than 50%. I've had to guess with roughly a 33% chance before. I say roughly, because it was in the top-left corner, which is more likely to have a mine since if your first click in a mine, it is swapped with the the top-left corner, or the first open square to the right of it. $\endgroup$ – mbomb007 May 3 '16 at 14:35
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Is it:

Nitrogen fertilizer

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? Neither silver bells nor cockle shells, It's something that could explode.

Nitrogen fertilizer is great for gardens, and can explode

As time counts down, or is it up?

The fumes from it go up in the air

Try to keep your record clean.

Ammonia used to make it is used for cleaning

The task's not as easy without some luck,

Creating it is a nightmare, and very dangerous

For there's no yellow submarine.

Sulfur which is used in other fertilizers are not used. These sulfur rocks are yellow, and appear like a yellow submarine under water when submerged in the process of creating the fertilizer

I'll pull a face if you're a disgrace,

If you do it wrong, it will probably kill you (pull a face, more like explode)

So get your irises in a row.

Sounds like the iris of an eye, and the byproducts of this reaction will certainly irritate your eyes (will put your irises/iris in a row)

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