By Vicki Sternfeld-Rossi
The Times 

We're Having a Heat Wave


It certainly has been hot lately, not only is it bringing out the sloth in me, but it is also obliterating my garden. The combination of my heat-inspired slothiness and my normal forgetfulness has caused some unfortunate plants on the side patio to wither and die. No eggplant this year, I guess they thrive when they are watered. But, lettuce, not so much. I have four varieties of lettuce, all of which have gone to seed and turned into lettuce trees sporting beautiful royal blue blossoms. Like cactus, they don’t seem to miss water at all, unfortunately, they’re not tasting too good now.

I was advised that tomatoes thrive in the heat, but their flowers don’t. Of course, the heat hit just as our plants were flowering. So, the lovely heirloom tomato plants I was given by friends, are green, leafy and impressively large, but lack fruit. I’ve picked 5 little yellow pear tomatoes and one shriveled Marzano.

What’s most frustrating about my tomato crop (or lack thereof), is that the seeds Mugsy dropped all over the yard last year, have grown into plants laden with flowers and now bunches of tomatoes are popping up. It’s bad enough I’m losing the garden competition to Daniel, but to lose to a dog is really demoralizing.

I planted three heads of cabbage, two of which have been recently turned into coleslaw, so at least I have one success on my side of the ledger. I don’t count my zucchini as a successful endeavor because they seem to be infallible, and even I admit I don’t deserve kudos for the abundance of them, whatever their shape or color. This year we planted green and yellow striped zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, and green zucchini balls, which look like melons, and all going gangbusters.

After making fun of Daniel’s plant which had a forest of leaves and no fruit, his cucumbers woke up and are as large as baseball bats. Mine decided to take a break and are small and scrawny, but like my tomatoes, I am ever hopeful.

Weeds are still a bit of a conundrum to me. How is it possible, that no matter what the genus, they thrive in heat, without water, and generally, through all climate anomalies? I know this year, I haven’t been a very diligent weeder, because there is too much going in my life too agonize over all the weeds. But they seem especially prolific this year, I will never catch up so I have given up, there is always next year.

On the patio of our café, there are planter boxes. Amazingly, the peppers, basil, and oregano are thriving. We’re only there four days a week, and they get watered only when I remember, yet they are managing better than the garden at the house. Is there some special magic in Dayton’s water? Or are they just more forgiving of my busy life, and grow to bolster my mood?

Many years ago, I was introduced to the business concept of the 80/20 rule. I have found that pertains to gardening as well. Twenty percent of my time is spent watering the plants at the café, yet they produce eighty percent of healthy plants. Mugsy spent twenty percent of his time playing in the tomato plants last year and he is responsible for eighty percent of our tomato crop.

To date, twenty percent of the summer weather has had record-breaking heat and has killed eighty percent of my vegetable garden. Yet, I know in December, eighty percent of my time, will be wishing for a return of the hot weather.


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