Published Friday, August 7, 2020

The new 'rules'

By Victoria Torley

We have a whimsical book at our home called “The New Official Rules” subtitled, “Maxims for muddling through to the twenty-first century.” The “Rules” are akin to Murphy’s Law which goes something like: ‘Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.’ Well, I found the perfect ‘rule’ for gardeners, and here it is:

Surprenant’s Law of Gardening. The easiest vegetables to raise in a garden are those you like least (and vice versa).

Hate broccoli and okra? Both will grow in abundance. Love tomatoes and peas? The plants will never produce anything edible.

So I thought, “what are some of the other gardening ‘rules’” - and decided to share them with you. Feel free to add a couple of your own (and send them to me – we’ll make a list).

1. The cuttings (or seeds) you neighbor shared with a dozen friends will grow for everyone but you.

This has happened to me more times than I care to remember. It’s sort of a corollary to ‘the grass is always greener . . .’

2. As soon as you ‘water-in’ new plants, they will be drowned by three days of rain.

So very true in Costa Rica. You can never be absolutely certain that rain isn’t on the way. When you are absolutely certain of a dry spell, it will rain anyway out of pure cussedness.

3. The minute you decide to get away for a few days, something will be ready to harvest.

Favorite B&B having a mid-week price reduction? The Ox Cart Festival date changed? You forgot you promised to take your spouse to the Guanacaste Day celebrations? When you get back, you will find that the melons have split open and rotted on the vine.

4. Just as the corn gets knee-high, your neighbor’s cows will get through the fence.

Oh that lovely corn. It was short-day sweet corn, a non-GMO from Hilo University in Hawaii and all gone in a single evening. Cows are sneaky devils.

5. If you have plants that come and go seasonally, you will forget where you planted them.

I used to do this all the time especially with small bulbs like those of the rain lily. Getting smarter in my old age, though, now I mark them so I remember where they are.

Well, those are some of my ‘rules’ for the garden. Let me know if you have others.

Plant for the Week

This is my Globba winitii, or dancing ladies ginger, in flower again after recently emerging from slumber. My plant buddy, Dave, at has a nice post about it, but only for U.S residents. He mentions it is an evergreen, but in my garden dancing ladies disappear during the dry season (I have it well-marked as a ‘no-dig’ zone) and reappears in late May or early June. It is in full bloom now and gets larger every year. Plant in full sun during the rainy season and mark it so you don’t forget it’s there. The plant is easy to care for and easy to share – just dig up a couple nice roots.

Editor's note: More information on this article or about gardening, Ms. Victoria Torley, gardener columnist, can be reached at