Sunday, April 6, 2014

Can a brown thumb turn green? - by Rachelle

“I have a brown thumb,” I said to the nice kid ringing me up at the nursery the other day.
“It’s never too late to develop a green one,” he said, not knowing that he was talking to a person who had never, ever, kept a plant alive for more than a few weeks.

Actually, I take that back. I had one small plant for three years because, after it survived the first month –which no other plant had ever survived – I was determined to keep it alive. And then, slowly but surely (and unfortunately predictably), I let it die, too.

My brown thumb admittedly seems to stem from one single (yet very important) detail: I stop watering the plants.

I water them and keep them going for a few weeks until I let life – or excuses – get in the way, and before I know it, I’m saying “I’ll do it tomorrow” until the unfortunate little plant who is so sadly in my care is parched for a drop of water. I’ve always been this way. I’m the first to admit it, but the last to do anything about it.

My hubby and I finally made a deal (after he got fed up with watching me spend at least $40 or $50 at Home Depot every few months on flowers that he – and I – knew would eventually die). In my defense, I’ve always had every intention of keeping them alive. I just can’t break the cycle of thinking, “Oh, I’m sure they’ll be fine till tomorrow” as they wither away to drooping, brown nothings.

So we would make these deals. Keep them alive for three months and (fill in the blank, we’ve tried everything). With such great incentive (like hubby having to do the dishes every night for a month if three months go by and the plants are still alive), you’d think I would change my ways. Nope. Poor flowers.

So, I admit, I made myself a little nervous when I came up with the brilliant idea of planting a garden on the side of our house. I’ve never even attempted to grow a garden because I knew what would happen. I would kill it before any bug or rodent even had a chance. There’s no drip line in place where the garden would go. So, I mentally put a drip line on my “honey do” list, and took my boys to the nursery (where the highlight, for them, was this giant train track in the middle of the nursery). 

And boy did going to the nursery bring back memories. I had forgotten all about those big, fun, metal wagons they have for carrying large loads (in my case, the large loads were my kids). I remember hanging on tight as a kid, watching my mom pick through the different flowers and plants, choosing just the right ones that we would take home, plant, and miraculously keep alive!

I was determined to do the same. First, to prove to myself that I could actually grow a garden, and second, to eat freshly grown veges from my own yard. How cool is that?! 

So we got to work. Andrew, Evan and I picked out corn, bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, and strawberries for our garden. We bought the recommended mulch and fertilizer, drove home, and started our garden. 

The boys had so much fun, especially once I discovered that there were buried pavers right where the garden was about to go. They found my unruly dirt hilarious. It took about 10 times longer than planned because I could not just dig a hole: I had to dig up the paver, smooth the dirt back over its large hole, dig smaller holes for the plants (which involved digging up dozens of small white rocks, which were also buried in the ground), and remove endless roots that were anywhere between six inches and six feet long.

But…we (and I say “we” lightly. The boys eventually lost total interest – as to be expected – and started throwing dirt and playing with unearthed worms) finally got everything planted. 

“Voila!” I said to hubby when he got home from work. His reaction? Very happy, extremely impressed, and slightly concerned.

“Looks like I’ll be putting in a drip system this weekend, huh?”

He read my mind.

Stay tuned for garden updates (and keep your fingers crossed that I’ll have something to update you on – other than a dead garden and a disappointed hubby).

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