Black Thumb

Please don’t die, little plants.

May 30 — My Soiled Past

I’m pretty sure that I have the opposite of a green thumb.

I love the idea of having my own garden, but I’m a little nervous about starting it up. Despite having a fairly successful vegetable garden as a kindergartner, I evidently lost the ability to sustain plant life as I grew older, my botanist abilities peaking at age 5.

I grew up to be a serial plant killer. Not on purpose, of course. I try to be a good gardener and water and trim and care for my plants as best I can. But something just always goes wrong.

I have killed bamboo. And rosemary. And azaleas. And spiderplants. And many, many flowers. Worst of all, a cactus. Somehow I managed to under-water the one plant that doesn’t even really need any. It broke in half.

Even the plant that I’ve been able to keep alive for a sustained period of time isn’t doing as well as it could. I’ve had the same African violet since college and it has never ever flowered, remaining just a pot with a bunch of leaves in it. But the leaves are green, so I count it as a victory.

June 1, 2009 — Wishing Hoping Planting

Now the summer is just about here, and I’ve still neglected to put something in the ground. It’s not for lack of resources — I have the perfect spot (the crater where our old shed used to be), seeds, potted basil to transplant, a trowel, and a pair of pink gardening gloves. It’s not for lack of good climate — we get tons of rain and sun and my yard is already the fertile home to a ton of wild strawberries and raspberries. It’s not the wildlife — even though our front yard is home to an adorable bunny duo, our new wooden fence keeps them from roaming our backyard.

It really all comes down to me and my shady history with plants. I’m afraid that once I put all of the money and effort into a garden, my black thumb will kick in and I’ll yet again be the plant murderer. If I never plant, at least my carrots and zucchinis and sunflowers can’t die.

Of course, if I never plant they’ll also never live, and that seems just as bad.

With the help of some gardening books and my new watering can, hopefully my garden will thrive, once I get around to finally working on it. It will be this month, while the temperatures are still cool enough to allow new vegetation to grow. It will be hard and dirty and amateurish. But maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll be lucky enough to figure it all out and have a garden to be proud of, one that can supply my kitchen with fresh produce for dinner.

June 5, 2009 — The Seedlings

Finally, after much hemming and hawing, I have made the leap. A coworker suggested I might have better luck if I purchase some already-started plants, rather than trying to start from scratch by nurturing life from seeds.

I decided that she was right — at least any plants I bought would have a positive beginning and might just have enough hardiness to survive my clumsy attempts. I drove over to the grocery store to see what I could find to get started. They also had massive bags of soil on their sidewalk, so I tried to help myself to a few.

The bags didn’t look terribly heavy, but I quickly discovered that, after basically faceplanting onto the concrete and sending my cart spinning willy-nilly, that they were completely waterlogged and weighed a metric ton. Thanks to the help of a very kind/amused nearby shopper, we were able to wrangle the soggy mess onto the bottom of my shopping cart and get me into the building.

The bags set my poor little abused cart woefully off balance, sending me weaving and wobbling through the aisles like a drunk. Somehow, I managed to make it to the produce section, where I found a whole shelf full of beautiful potted herbs that I could transplant. Gleefully, I picked out basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley, and some jalapeño plants. Apparently my garden would be devoted to taco fixings, which pleased me just fine.

I’m not sure how, but I managed to thrash the bags of soil into the trunk of my little Toyota and get all of my plants home safely. With the help of Hubby, I laid down pretty rows of the dark dirt and happily plopped the plants into their holes.

“Good luck, little plant,” I whispered to each one before patting the soil around it.

June 10, 2009 — I Love the Amish

It’s been four days since I’ve planted my first herbs, and they seem to be doing alright so far. With the heavy rains that Maryland has had lately, I haven’t really had to do anything in the ways of tending the plants, aside from shooing a curious and hungry pug away from them.

Feeling accomplished and ambitious, I decided to move forward with my gardening project. Luckily for me, I was sent to a neighboring county library for some training and their parking lot was host to a traveling Amish farmer’s market. This particular market seemed to be there just for me, as they had stands upon stands full of yummy veggies and herbs just waiting to go into the ground.

Better still, there was a delightful Amish lady who helped me make my selections, explaining about the proper care of the plants and how long it would take them to mature. At one dollar a pot, I was sold, coming home with bags full of young zucchini, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, and habanero peppers. And a loaf of fresh-baked bread, just because.

Hubby dutifully bought some more soil for me, and he helped me again to plant all of my seedlings when I arrived home that evening.

June 13, 2009 — Growing Upward and Onward

With things going alright for now, I think I may be turning a corner with my bad planting luck.

If everything stays alive and happy, I hope to expand. I have several nice rows already, but there’s a lot of bare, sad looking ground from the foundation of the shed that we tore down. Eventually, Hubby and I want to fill it in completely with soil and have a very nice, very large patch of vegetable garden, once I learn how to tend to taller plants like tomatoes and peppers and corn.

Until I reach that point, I’m taking my garden one day at a time. Even if my plants never bear any vegetables, I’m happy if everything at least stays green. And if my dog will please stop trying to eat them.

Pray for my plants. They need all the help they can get.

Article © 2009 by Molly E. Weeks