The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Vicki Sternfeld-Rossi
The Title 

The Waitsburg gardening enigma


Vicki Sternfeld-Rossi

Sternfeld-Rossi's garden proudly sports this healthy 'volunteer' zucchini.

I would bet money that even Alan Turing couldn't solve the mystery of my Waitsburg garden. To say the least, this year has been an interesting experience trying to decode what grows, and why and where it grows. It will probably always remain an enigma to me.

I planted eggplant from seed in a separate planter this year. I had three sprouts spring up and over the course of a week, one just wasn't making it, so I pulled it and let the other two flourish. We now have 2 very full and prolific zucchini plants growing there, but no eggplant anywhere. That is mystery number one. I've been advised, sometimes the seeds are in compost, (we don't compost, yet), or it could be birds, squirrels or the wind that moves the seeds.

We planted sunflowers along a side wall inside our new fence. Most are growing, some are struggling; however, a random zucchini plant in that same spot is flourishing! I have planted radishes in the side planter on the front lawn, and smack in the middle of the radishes what do I find? Yep, a zucchini plant. I did plant zucchini in a planter, it's also going strong. Guess that's one mystery solved, we will be eating a lot of zucchini this summer.

In one planter we have chamomile, fennel, basil, and other herbs. The chamomile was a fairly well-established plant when we bought it, the fennel was from seed. Somehow in the middle of the fennel, there is another chamomile plant growing. And, I just spotted another chamomile plant amidst the "field of daylilies," which are taking hold and going strong. But I can't figure out why only one plant blooms at a time. They seem to go in rotation. One blooms dies-then the next one blooms and dies, and on and on. At this rate, I will have a bloom a day until November. Chamomile isn't the only invader in my lily field. I have three volunteer tomato plants, sunflowers that I'm sure the birds dropped while gorging at their feeders, and if I look through everything, I'm sure I'll find another zucchini plant.

We planted snap peas from starts. They were cute little three-inch plants that grew to a total of five inches, produced 5 snap peas then died. My neighbor's pea plants are taller than me and are spewing snap peas all over. Mysterious, snap pea bug?

I proudly showed off my morning glory planting to my neighbor, she approved, then pointed out that the other morning glory "batch" I was coddling was the bad kind! Pull them now! How do you tell good from bad? It's a mystery to me.

My neighbor Gail and I were bemoaning the earwig plague. She had success with salad oil and Thai fish sauce. I made my container of the concoction and carefully placed it by the rhubarb. It caught earwigs, as well as my dog's interest. He slurped up the mix, then proceeded to gag, cough, and puke! Now I know-cover the container, and poke holes at the top if it's at ground level!

This year our planting was random, to say the least. Daniel built planters, we bought seeds and starts to fill them. We have arugula growing in 3 different planters, beans in about ten spots, tomatoes all over, and lettuce and herbs scattered through different planters. His mandate for next year is to be more disciplined and organized in our planting. My thought is, "Why?" As my father used to say, "Man proposes, Mother Nature disposes!" I'm just excited to see things grow, eat salad from my garden, and guess where I will find another random zucchini plant!


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