Flooded Planet

Exploring the World to the Very Last Drop

Category: PGA – Personal Gardening Anecdotes

Hydroponic Happy

Hydroponic Happy

The three basil ladies you see here started out in life from a very tough place. The attending gardener was doing his best to kill them. I had placed them in a gallon jug container outside with the micro-nutrient mixture I use for my hydroponic efforts. The jug was just a discarded water container, made of plastic, of course, and mostly clear. Me neglecting to darken it so that the algae would not grow was a big mistake. Algae is an amazing organism in that, with a little water and sun, its abundant and rapid growth is virtually guaranteed. I would imagine that the high nutrient content in the water did nothing to help that situation, as well.

By the end of the first day, the algae was already growing in the jug, which was probably no big deal for the moment, but the basil  were noticeably suffering, probably mostly from the shock of being separated from the parent plant abruptly, by way of my scissors. I think a lot of it had to do with the way in which I cut them, leaving absolutely no root growth for them to begin life in a new environment with.  By the end of the second day, I counted the experiment as all but dead in the water (literally and figuratively).

However, life will find a way, and so it went with these three little ladies. I transferred their lifeless and wilted bodies into the three jars you see here, filling each about a third full with clean gravel, then another third of the way with the same micro-nutrient mix I was using outside (not the same stuff…it had been overtaken by the algae…just the same mixture). I placed them in my windowsill, and within a couple of days, they had bounced right back (the aluminum keeps the algae from getting a foothold).  You should see the root system on these plants now! Hundreds of tiny roots growing out of the portion of the plant that I initially cut from the parent. It’s really kind of amazing.

The peppers you see on the table beside the basil are also products of a hydroponic effort and with many more still on the way from the same plant, growing in nothing but expanded clay pellets for support, and the micro-nutrient mixture in which the pepper plants roots are quite happy.

I can safely say that, between my soil-based efforts versus the hydroponic-based planets, the soil-less stuff is winning magnificently. Not to mention that it’s just plain fun!

Clueless Farmers

When I walk out the front door of my workplace, I am greeted, both to the left and the right, with fresh-growing edibles being nurtured by a small enclave of clueless farmers. This small tightly knit group of numbskulls is comprised of staff members who apparently had the bright idea last spring to start gardening right at the entryway to the business. They trucked in railroad timbers and lots of good soil, then went to work creating the large square spaces that would be necessary to pull off such an uninformed stunt.

A little bit of sporadic watering, some blazing good Florida sunshine, and next thing we knew, the craziest thing was happening: with what seemed like very little effort or experience on the part of anyone involved in the effort, everything began growing like gangbusters, bursting forth in what seemed like only a week or two. Peppers and tomatoes, and several other things I can’t quite remember, all began providing produce on a scale that was a bit unexpected. We couldn’t give the stuff away (actually, that’s all we did, there just weren’t many takers, since most of my coworkers, the majority younger than myself, knew nothing about stuff that doesn’t start out in life as something in a package arranged prettily on a shelf.

The half-baked greenery looked absolutely fabulous, adding color and a wild, untamed element to an otherwise rather non-descript building. We decided to keep up our good work. Now, we have our winter garden well underway and it’s time to start harvesting again. The comical part of this story is that, nobody quite seems to know what we’re actually growing. Not to say that we don’t have a fairly good idea, just that we’re not entirely sure. Something got lost in translation.

I should say that by ‘we,’ I actually mean ‘them,’ since I’ve had no part in this venture, whatsoever, other than eating what gets grown ‘out there.’ The main characters, however, are worth taking a look at. For instance, one of the jokers in this comedy of errors is a wonderful young man who doesn’t know a thing about gardening. I never know what answers he’s going to offer regarding my questions and his green plot, and I can probably classify him as an ‘unreliable source of growing information.’ In no fashion does he fit the farmer M.O., and it’s quite interesting to note that he has no intentions of eating any of the vegetables, himself.

“I’d rather sell it all at a roadside stand,” he said, “so I can go get some greasy fast food.” He wasn’t kidding. Still, I watched him on several occasions during the hot summer months, diligently working ‘midst the jungle-like growth, coming away with handfuls of peppers and tomatoes that would find their way to the community dining area in the kitchen. Since he did not partake, his labor was truly selfless. It was kind of adorable.

I pointed to one of the plants that was really taking off and asked him what it was (I really didn’t know). He said it was a Reuben. Again, he wasn’t kidding. I repeated his answer back to him, squinting hard as I did so, and then he scratched his scraggly head (I envy his mop greatly), no longer quite certain. I offered that I thought a Reuben was a sandwich and he affirmed that he thought so, too. Then I asked if maybe he had meant Rhubarb. He was delighted in the idea that I had pronounced correctly what he had intended to say. The conversation continued in that vein for a while, with less clarity, not more, the result. It wasn’t Baby Boomer vs Millenial miscommunication. It was two humans conversing about a topic in which neither had much expertise.

Another member of the enclave was a mother hen type, and she was a reliable old hand when it came to gardening wisdom. She maintained that no rhubarb had been planted in our garden. A third member, a guy who wears his hair very long and reminds me of John Lennon a little bit, says he couldn’t remember if there had been any rhubarb planted or not. The reason the question had come up in the first place is because I had been staring at something that looked very much like the plant my grandpa used to grow when I was kid, and grandma would then use it to make rhubarb pie. Turns out the thing living in our garden was possibly Swiss chard (I think I have that right).

“The stalks are poisonous, right?” someone inquired. Somebody else, another staffer who had put herself in charge of watering duties during her afternoon smoke breaks, said she thought it was the leaves and not the stalks. Nobody was 100 percent on this, so the Unreliable Source Googled it and, although we determined which part of rhubarb would kill us, we still weren’t certain what was growing in the garden, either willing to commit a crime, or trying desperately to clear itself of any guilt by association.

There was another plant that was also being left unidentified, and much speculation as to its heritage was also put out there by these certifiable amateurs. They hadn’t understood the importance of placing those little plastic mini-stakes next to the efforts of one’s fruit. “I think it’s a turnip,” I said, convinced that I must be right simply because of the resemblance of the thing to what I hadn’t eaten many times before. It was growing right next to what most of us thought was probably cabbage, or broccoli. Smoking Girl thought the leaves were the wrong color. “The blue leaves are the kale,” the Unreliable Source said.

We ventured back inside to talk to yet another elder (I was the same age, just without the same wisdom). She trekked out to the South Forty (about twenty steps from her desk, in truth) and informed us all that she believed it to be a Rutabaga. I hadn’t heard that word in years, and none of us were sure if the leaves could be cooked down and eaten in the same way as a turnip. Again we conferred with the Google Oracle, who whispered knowingly through the cyber ether that indeed the leaves were delicious. I was exhausted.

What I found most telling in this mini mound of misinformation was how knowledge of the land and the things that sprout from it had very noticeably diminished, tied directly to the age of the person conveying the information. The most senior among us knew the most, while the youngest did not know anything about the plants he was tending, nor was even willing to eat any of it.

While on the surface, the situational dialog that had occurred was certainly worth a good laugh, the realization that valuable knowledge had slipped away with the generations (almost three involved here, I would say, with an age range from early 60s to early 20s), was no laughing matter. The fact that the urban garden existed at all, had come into existence through the efforts of a younger, willing generation, and that all wanted to participate in its success in some way or another, all gave me hope. If the spark to live independently could forever remain, maybe the dead canned goods in the supermarket might forever have to remain on their toes.

Sincere thanks for stopping by!

G2

Backyard Playground

For me, I have never equated being grown-up with being too old to learn new tricks, or to just plain learn. Our gray matter doesn’t seem to have any upper limit for knowledge, so why not fill it up all along the way. When I watch people park themselves in front of the TV for the entire weekend, I think about all the adventure they’re just plain missing out on. I’ve always been a curious type, and discovering new things about the world never gets old, tiring, or boring.

This weekend, I spent both Saturday and Sunday entirely outside and entirely at the house. I am lucky in the fact that my “backyard” covers about two acres and is just about jam packed with Nature’s bounty. By bounty, I certainly don’t mean a harvestable crop. I mean everything from the ground up to the tallest trees waiting to be poked, prodded, and played with. Here’s a little bit of what I did and learned between being set free on Friday, and punching the clock on Monday:

  • Gathered a bunch of pine cones together, since I think they might be good for something, if for nothing else than just ornamentation piled high in a bucket.
  • Made a list of all the different trees I recognize growing around the place…Pine (two different kinds I think), Hickory, Oak (again, two different kinds), Magnolia, Maple, Sparkleberry, and numerous others I can’t identify yet.
  • Looked up what the shrub that has always grown along my back fence might be and found out it’s an American Beauty Berry. I always believed those outlandish purple berries must be poisonous. Turns out people have been transforming them into delicious jelly and syrup for generations. I decided not to mess with all that so I made myself some tea, instead. It was sublime! (The leaves are also used as an insect repellent).
beauty-berry-tea

Boiling Down the Beauty Berries to Make Tea

  • Discovered that three herbs sitting on a table in my house, a fourth crouching on the back porch, and a fifth running wild in the yard all belong to the same family – Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, and Peppermint all belong to the Mint family. I was told to look closely to see that they all have leaves that grow at right angles with each successive layer. By golly, they were right!
  • There’s this “weed,” as the professionals call it (although it makes up most of my lawn, so I will call it…”lawn”) that they say they can eradicate for me. My question would be “Why?” Its real name (or common name, I guess) is Florida Pusley. It has the tiniest little white flowers that grow in either a five or six-pointed star. I couldn’t imagine what might be small enough to pollinate these guys, but all I had to do was wait a moment. There were miniaturized butterflies that were terribly efficient on the job, perhaps visiting a new flower every second or two. Numerous strange looking wasp-like insects (they dithered more), and ordinary bees also showed up. I had a big ole magnifying glass and got right down amongst the action. There’s a whole lot going on all around if we just take the time to notice.
  • Found out my Oaks are probably at least 20 years old, since that’s when they start dropping acorns. Of course, they’ve been dropping them since the house was built, which has been ten years now, so they’re probably at least 30 years old.
  • Read a whole bunch about the nuts, themselves, and was amazed at the history and uses for them. I gathered some of the pretty black colored ones and put them in a jar. Hours later I discovered numerous little white grubs appearing alongside the acorns, as well, and didn’t remember seeing them before. That led me to read up on the acorn weevil, which was a fascinating learning experience, too. I discovered on my own that they’ll play dead for an instant whenever they get touched in any way. They have no legs, so to watch them squirming their way across my hand, playing dead, then squirming again was comical. I let them go in the yard, since that’s where they were heading, anyway. They’ll be underground for a year or two before emerging as adult weevils, looking for mates, and acorns.
  • Dog fennel, by the beginning of Fall, might have grown to a height of ten or twelve feet. And the rather medicinal smell it gives off on my hands whenever I try to pull one up during summer gives way to a delicately sweet aroma that arises from their thousands of tiny flowers that sway most charmingly in the breeze. The picture below might deceive you. It looks like a tree, and a double-trunked one, at that. In fact, it’s just a bunch of fennel strands tied together with some Velcro around a dead tree trunk. Looks pretty cool, huh?
double-trunked-feaux-fennel-palm

Double-Trunked Faux Fennel Palm Tree

  • I saw a strikingly red colored wasp that was pollinating the fennel (or at least I thought that’s what he was doing). I had to look him up on the web, and thought I was in for some digging. Turns out I was wrong. He immediately revealed himself to me in just a few short minutes with the search term “red wasp pollinates dog fennel.” He was a scarlet-bodied wasp moth, or Cosmosoma myrodora. Although he may have been inadvertently pollinating, mostly he was interested in extracting toxins from the fennel, which he would later dump all over a female just prior to mating (I guess even the insects can get a little twisted in the bedroom, at times). Actually, the toxin protects the male from spiders, increasing his chances of getting to mate. When he sprays the female with the stuff during mating, she, in turn, is also protected, increasing her chances of successfully laying her eggs for the next generation. Some of that protection even gets passed on to the eggs. It’s the only known example in the insect world where such usage of a plant toxin occurs. All this was learned as a result of standing quietly still in the yard and just watching, then following through on curiosity.
  • Massive blackberry bushes can spring up in the woods, taking over the place in very short time. (I didn’t even know there were blackberries right outside my front door until my keenly observant daughter pointed out the obvious). This was not something I discovered this weekend, by the way, and blackberry season is well behind us now. But chopping through a blackberry bush while blazing new trails in the woods is not for the faint of heart. Freaking out at the sight of several dozen thorns buried firmly in my unsuspecting arm was not an option, as I conquered the bushes with clippers, machete, and handsaw, loving every minute of Man Against Nature. Read more about the trails…
  • My artistic daughter drew up a map of the trails I have hacked out of the jungle that is Northwest Florida. I cannot imagine what the early Spaniards must have encountered when they landed here all those centuries ago, but I’m sure it was challenging. It is only very recently that I set foot on parts of my own property, simply by deciding that I would cut through the undergrowth (along with the overgrowth and middlegrowth, if those terms can properly describe the thick mass of vegetation that crept and hung and tangled its way across my path from head to toe). Now, after several weekends of effort, we have forged, for our walking pleasure, trails with the following names…Deer Run, Walking Stick, Three Sentinels, Armadillo Hideaway, Picky Vine, Knife Fork and Spoon, Brown Bench, and one or two more. I blazed two of the last ones today (Sunday), before deciding that the look and feel of the place is just about right for now.
  • Gathered beauty berries and some other kind of red berry that is attractive in the extreme. Put them in jars without the lid to help dry them out. Hope they retain their texture, shape, and color, since they look really nice in glass.
  • It’s mid-October and I’m still picking tomatoes off the vine, albeit small and green ones. They are Romas I grew from seed, then promptly gave up on, since every red one I picked during summer was already eaten through. Now, as I pick them way before they are ready, they ripen up just fine indoors on the windowsill over several days, granting me something to toss in the sauce for whatever dish I might be preparing at dinnertime.
  • Read about John Ray, Phillip Miller, Carolus Linnaeus, and a few other famous botanists.

I guess that about sums it for now. If every weekend was as relaxing and educational as this one has been, I might live to be a hundred. I would say to anyone with kids that the backyard, no matter how big or small, holds more adventure in one square yard of ground than all the video games and TV channels combined. Get out and explore, breathe the fresh air, feel the sun on your face, and live as though you are a part of the natural world from which you sprung…sprang…done did spring.

Sincere thanks for stopping by!

G2

HydroTonics IV (Oh Lettuce…I did not know you well)

Here’s an unexpected twist to my hydroponic lettuce experiment, and it centers around expanded clay ball dust. What? Yeah, I know, me too.

If you’re like me, you don’t read the instructions that come with any product with “some assembly required” because you think that the knowledgeable advice included, free of charge, applies to all the other morons who don’t know how to turn a screwdriver, not you. You always know exactly what you’re doing…of course. Which is why my lettuce experiment is now defunct, all because I got a little cavalier with the clay balls (like those shown in picture in HydroTonics III). This one guy on his blog says I should wash those things 3-4 times, flushing the water until there’s no more color coming off the things. So, I took that to mean one good flushing, which is basically what I did, then called it good.

Last night, the dripping I have previously described in the other hydrotonic entries, the very dripping which plays the oh so crucial part in the whole hydroponic experiment world…abruptly stopped and would not continue on no matter what I did. There was gentle shaking of the tube, followed by more violent shaking, which was then followed by swapping out of pumps. The ultimate desperate act was a complete extraction of baby lettuce children, along with a dismantling of the entire setup, including all separation of components to discover the source of the problem.

The answer had been provided in the instructions…of course. Stated in bold-faced honesty (almost as if this very same thing had probably happened to others, and this was their attempt to spare me the same fate). It was those darned clay balls. If not flushed thoroughly of their dust, it would seem that they will likely cause the small drip holes to clog, which must then be cleared with a specialty tool known as a toothpick.

I will not provide any additional details beyond this other than to say that the lettuce is now outside in a pot full of good soil, and I am now switching to hydroponic…turnip greens!

The saga continues…

G2

HydroTonics III

Well, I guess I could synchronize the Roman numeral in the title with the number of weeks that this experiment has been going on, so let’s do that. Week three and the lettuce is still growing, albeit much slower than I would have hoped. The literature says that, with hydroponics, plants can grow up to twice as fast, although that has not been my experience so far. This could be for a couple of reasons, both of which are due to my own inexperience:

  • I now believe that I transplanted my little lettuce babies way before they were ready. As a result, their roots did not get a chance to develop to the degree that was necessary for proper growth (see, this is what happens when excitement overrules prudence and patience). Their root systems are probably going to be permanently compromised all the way up until harvest time.
  • Secondly, the lighting I am using is just a standard fluorescent light bulb that fits into a lamp that can be clamped on to the edge of a table. Since I’ve read quite a bit about grow lights, I can safely say that an ordinary fluorescent bulb is not going to offer the plants the natural lighting that grow lamps provide. As a result, growth is probably somewhat delayed.

All things considered, however, the lettuce babies are all growing into small children. The largest one is perhaps three inches high. Color is good, and with no indications of any nutrient troubles showing in the leaves yet. I have changed out the nutrients one time so far and will continue to do so about once every 7-10 days.

hydrotonics-cmprsd-20161008

I’m still quite smitten with this whole idea of growing things in nothing more than nutrient-rich water. Why it fascinates me so I’m not quite sure, although I suppose it has something to do with my memories of a backstage walking tour I took several years ago at Walt Disney World in Orlando, while visiting Epcot’s Living with the Land pavilion. There, you can take the slow moving boat ride through a variety of hydroponic greenhouses, and also view the fish aquariums that are part of their aquaponics efforts.

Once finished, you can also participate in a more up close and personal walking tour of the same areas. A knowledgeable tour guide provides you with more detailed explanations about the technology behind those amazing plants growing in ways that are anything but conventional agriculture.

It was truly beyond belief what can be accomplished with these innovative growing techniques involving technologies that are much more mature than I had realized. Now that I’ve caught the bug, myself, I am once again astonished at the selection of online products offered to the home hydroponics hobbyist. This thing has really taken off and it’s just terrific!

I didn’t want to drop a lot of cash into this project initially, in case things did not work out. My initial interest in hobbies tends to wane, and I am more aware of this about myself as I get older. So a conservative approach is about all that I allow myself, at least in the beginning. I still feel a general enthusiasm about hydroponics, however, so it’s probably time to invest in a second system to sit side-by-side with the first. Maybe get my first grow light. And something to test pH. And…

Looks to me like the beginnings of a commitment, and what could be better than that!

Update No 4 coming in about a week.

Thanks for stopping by!

G2

HydroTonics II

I let you know a few days ago that I had invested in a starter hydroponics kit. I also relayed that I was going to start with some tomato plant cuttings as my first attempt at growing something in the tonic waters. That plan, however, was not meant to be, as the cuttings never rooted the way the websites said they would. So we’re going to try lettuce.

A few words about this setup: it’s from a company called General Hydroponics, and the kit I purchased, called the Waterfarm, is about as basic as they come. I’m quite certain that I could easily duplicate their set up with a few parts from the hardware store and cut my price by half. My purchase was from a local distributor and I paid about $55. That seems about right, especially considering that the pump, tubing, and clay pebbles were all included. But, all in all, a very basic system, and not so appealing to the eye in design or color. It is doing what it’s supposed to, however, so I’m not going to complain too much.

The lettuce was started from seed. I had the beginnings of sprouts only after the second day, and after about one week’s growth, they have now been transplanted into the clay pebbles that come with the set up. The Waterfarm is a drip system, using a small air pump to lift the water from its reservoir up above the clay so that the little sprouts can get the equivalent of a perpetual shower of micronutrients that they will ultimately need throughout their lifecycle.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with hydroponics, there are plenty of websites that cover the topic thoroughly. Start reading and you might get hooked. Wikipedia is always a good place to start. The advantages of this approach are numerous: I’m using very little water, since the pump is recycling the same two gallons over and over; I don’t need soil, pesticides, or herbicides, since this whole experiment is taking place inside; I can also control lighting and temperature to a much greater degree than I would be able to outside. Obvious disadvantages will be the added cost of powering the pump and the light. For now, this is on such a small scale, that I may not even notice an increase in my electric bill.

Some websites I’ve read also state that hydroponics requires a lot of attention, but I think that could easily be said of an outdoor garden, as well. Until I’m further into this experiment and can better gauge my time investment, I’m going to reserve judgment with regard to the amount of effort this venture will require. So far, I’m having a whole lot of fun!

I will keep the updates coming.

G2

HydroTonics I

PGA – HydroTonics I

So, moving forward, the PGA shall stand for Personal Gardening Anecdotes. Apologies to anyone who thought they would be getting the latest golf updates here…easy mistake to make, for sure, especially if one was perpetually in the lake and thought FloodedPlanet might be all about golfing gaffs. But I digress…

I have had more than a passing interest in hydroponics for quite some time now. So I thought it serendipitous when I found myself tagging behind a truck a few nights ago that sort of changed my luck. Driven by the owner of a recently opened hydroponics supply store in my neck of the woods, it came into view only just before I was preparing to turn off onto my final road home. The business name was plastered across the back windshield. Turns out, that’s all I would need to take action.

Two days later, I found myself leaving the owner’s shop laden with my beginner’s kit and a wealth of new information that caused my happy head to sort of lean to one side. It felt like a whole new world had just opened up for me to explore.

Four days later, and I’m now set up and ready to transplant several tomato plant cuttings into the clay pellets that will serve as structural support for these fuzzy-headed little gals. Perpetually drip-fed with pump-driven micro-nutrients, and lit by a nice compact grow lamp from above, they’ll have it pretty darned cozy during their growth cycle.

No pests, no herbicides, no wondering about the weather. The sun and the water and the food all taken care of. The food…the tonics…are to be described a bit further. Contained in three joyfully different bottles, all brightly colored and with creative branding, every one, they sported number triplets like 5-0-1, 2-1-6, and 0-5-4. Rather cryptic to the untrained eye, but each signifying different ratios of the various minerals that most any plant will need and want if it’s to stay growing and green for the duration. The accumulated repositories of gardening know-how all contained in these tiny little bottles of micro-pureed goodness just left me all a twitter with excitement.

Somehow, I’m pretty sure that something is scheming behind the scenes to show me the error of my misguided ways. What could possibly go wrong, right? In the meantime, it’s a pretty little picture I paint.

Updates forthcoming.

G2

Green Thumbs and Water

As a young boy growing up in western Colorado, like any other kid who yearned to be liberated from the bondages of learning (even if for a short while), that freedom came in the form of the wondrous and beguiling season called Summer.  The long awaited break from school arrived complete with grassy fields just begging for a baseball game, wide-branching trees aching for some kids to come a-climbing.  Swimming pools and barbeques, camping and fishing, homemade ice cream and volleyball games…yeah, you get the picture.  Heaven!

Plus I had two sets of grandparents, minutes up the road, four personalities all as unique and individual as they come, with different perspectives reflected in big ways and small, right down to the types of houses they lived in, and what they liked to do for hobbies.  They all might as well have been born on different planets.

I thoroughly enjoyed the disparities, engaging each one in conversations about the things that animated them, and me.  Grandma Genna loved cooking for a big crowd while Grandma Fern wanted nothing to do with a kitchen.  Grandma Genna’s house was coming undone all the time.  Grandma Fern’s was the picture of prim and proper.  Grandpa Doc plunked down one of the first PCs to come out in the early ’80s, making space on a desk just as quickly as he could sweep aside the CB radio and police scanner.  Grandpa Mert was always busy building some amazing piece of furniture in his overly crowded garage, listening to Paul Harvey while rummaging around for one tool or another.

Each time Mom said we were going to visit one pair of grandparents or the other, it was as if a magic spell had just been cast once again.  I now realize how lucky my sister and I were to have had all those precious years living just minutes away from people with huge hearts, quick smiles, big hugs, and snug harbors where all the family could gather for genuine joy and laughter.  Boy, it doesn’t get any better, and how I yearn for those people now, long since gone, and with my own children mostly living far away from their own grandparents.  Oh the times how they have changed.

Well, that same grandpa who had a way with building strong elegant furniture was also what I would call a master gardener.  One thing everyone in the family shared between us, both young and old, was our love for fresh grown summer produce.  And if it could be planted, tended and harvested, Grandpa knew just how to do it, seeing the job through every summer, using hoes, hoses, and how-to.  If I think about all those seasons when he provided so much bounty for so many people, it leaves me in awe of any human who still possesses such skills, someone who contributes in real and measurable ways to the well-being of the family, the community.  What value…and what a privilege and honor.

Now that I have my own place, and with ample room to spare for the attempt, I have found myself over the past few veranos giving the gardening thing a try.  But it wasn’t as though Grandpa had shared the secrets of it all with me.  I don’t just naturally know when to plant peas, or how far apart the rows of rhubarb should be, or how much sun the sunflowers like.  I wasn’t ready for, or wanting lessons in, agriculture forty years ago.  I just loved the way everything looked and smelled when the water misted the foliage, and the promise of squash and potatoes fried in bacon grease loomed ever closer.

Everyone's Enjoying the Summer Sun!

Everyone’s Enjoying the Summer Sun!

Summer is a wondrous thing for a child to behold, when Nature has trussed herself up in infinite shades of green, and the thought of school and winter coming soon is reason enough for a young kid to run faster through the grass, climb higher in the tree, swim harder in the pool.  Summer makes a kid’s head spin with the giddiness of freedom and the room to roam.  Serious gardening would have to wait.

Fast forward several decades.  The harder I try on the backside of bad gardening luck, I’ve come to realize that I don’t agree with what some say is a person’s knack for growing things, versus another’s knack for killing them.  Every person can be one or the other.  Helping things grow takes effort.  Killing them off is easy.  Best put, gardening is mostly just a matter of paying close attention, that’s all.  And guess what?  You too have a green thumb!

Of all the gardening advice I would give, it would come down to a few simple acts performed regularly.  My first year, I readily admit that I didn’t do any of the things my friend across the street (who consistently produces an amazing garden) recommended—those few simple acts just hinted at:

Plant in good soil.  If your place doesn’t have good stuff naturally, amend it in some way.  Buy compost or bagged soil readily available at garden shops and hardware stores anywhere you might live.

Fertilize.  Don’t go overboard, but a little help every now and then can make a huge difference.

Keep the weeds away.

Check things often to address problems before they get out of hand.

Water, water…water!

My first year’s harvest didn’t amount to a hill of beans, and even those didn’t grow.  I was a potato farmer, even though I had planted many other vegetables, besides.  I was discouraged by my lack of skill, amazed that, despite my best efforts, everything was dead within weeks of planting.  Then I realized something.  I hadn’t really tried at all.

This year, things are looking much better.  Even though I’m mostly growing in containers, and my efforts are still insignificant compared to my grandpa’s, I’m pleased to say that everything is growing and looking quite happy.  Rosemary, oregano, parsley, basil, tomatoes, mint…all coming up and looking just fine.

A green thumb isn’t a knack, it’s an approach.  A green thumb isn’t good luck, it’s good stewardship.  A green thumb isn’t doled out to only the lucky few; it is possessed by anyone who cares enough to get up a little earlier before work, splash a little water on the green things, and maybe do the same thing upon arrival back home.  If you want to be a gardener, care enough to do it right.  Right?

A green thumb isn’t the thing, it’s the attitude toward the thumb that’s the thing.

Sincere thanks for stopping by!

G2

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