pigMy wife planted eggplant for the first time a few years ago. I dutifully mulched the soil on either side of the row with about 4 inches of grass clippings, and we waited. A few weeks later I became suspicious of the seedlings we’d produced. A few days later I told her, “I think you’ve got a weed coming up instead of eggplant.”

“Those plants are in a row, right where I planted them,” she said. “They have to be eggplant.”

I reminded her that anything growing there had to be in a straight line. The mulch would have smothered anything else. She was certain the seedlings were eggplants and went on to complain of rashes she developed from plant allergies, possibly from pollen in clothes the kids and I dumped in the laundry.

As instructed, I watered and fertilized her ‘eggplants.’ Her allergies got worse, and we repeated our discussion about her plants–frequently. As the plants matured, I recognized them as the weed velvetleaf. The dispute over the identification of the plants became a sore point, but it wasn’t as irritating as her allergies. When the plants began to flower, I asked“What color are the flowers?”

“They’re yellow. Anyone can see that. Why did you have me come out here to ask me that? I’m starting to itch just being in the garden.”

“Eggplant has white or blue flowers,” I said. “I looked it up.” I paused while she thought about that. “Would you like me to fertilize them again?” I asked.

“Pull the damned things out, and when you come in, put your clothes in the washing machine, and take a shower.” She turned and walked back into the house.