5 tips to turn your brown thumb green
Plants are so much more than a mere source of food. Growing them in our home or garden brings immense physical and psychological benefits. However, as anyone with a brown thumb will attest, dead or dying flora has the opposite effect. But fear not, there are a few steps you can take to turn that brown thumb a lovely shade of emerald in no time.
Start off with something simple and take it slowly. Think about something you’re really good at and remember how you became so proficient. It took time, effort and practice. So instead of diving into the mysteries of bonsai, or propagating rare and delicate flowers, think about some easy-care indoor plants or veggies. Try some mint, parsley, basil or spring onions in a pot. Beans are another easy and fun plant to grow in a pot or in the garden. The other benefit is you’ll be able to see (and eat) the fruits of your labour within a few weeks.
2. Get the right kit
You don’t need to spend a fortune, but you will need to get a few basic gardening tools or you could find yourself planting your seedlings with a spoon and weeding with a fork. (Not a good look if dinner guests arrive as you’re repotting the parsley.) The good news is that it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. You can pick up a watering can, gloves and hand trowel from most supermarkets.
3. Get the right advice
None of us is born knowing how to cook, swim, ride a bike – or garden. We learn by watching and talking to others. Have you got a neighbor whose garden you admire? Next time you’re passing and you see them pottering among the petunias, stop to say hello. As you get to know them, ask for some advice – gardeners are friendly people and you could even find yourself the recipient of some cuttings and practical help to get started. Community gardens are another great way to meet people and learn about gardening. If there’s one near your house, pop along one day and have a chat. Staff at garden centres can be run off their feet, but if you confess yourself to be a novice and ask for some basic advice they’re usually happy to help as long as your don’t monopolise them for hours on end.
4. Location, location
Just because a plant is labelled “indoor” doesn’t mean you can place it anywhere in the house. Some indoor plants, like cactii, will enjoy a sunny window sill, while a delicate fern will wither and die. Obviously the same rule of thumb applies to outdoor plants. It’s also a good idea to place plants where you’ll see them all the time. Not only will you be reminded to water and care for them, you’ll also get maximum enjoyment from seeing them as you come and go throughout the day.
5. Don’t kill them with kindness.
You can definitely have too much of a good thing when it comes to water. One of the most common mistakes made with house plants is over watering. Imagine if you were forced to drink 10 litres of water at one sitting. That’s how your pot plant feels when you keep pouring water around its roots. The easiest way to check whether a plant needs water is to place your finger in the soil at the base of the plant up to the second knuckle, then take it out again. If it feels dry, it needs water. If there’s soil stuck to your finger and it feels wet, the plant doesn’t need a drink yet.