Turn That Black Thumb Green

Green Thumb


On several occasions, when I’ve brought up the subject of gardening to someone, they will tell me that they have a black thumb and, in so many words, they are incapable of nurturing anything green. Well, in the words of an old George Gershwin song, it ain’t necessarily so. You may not have been successful in the past with your gardening endeavors, but it doesn’t mean that it has to always be this way. With a few minor changes, almost anyone can get on the road to successful gardening.

First, do you want to garden? Sometimes, “I can’t garden” may really mean “I’m really not interested in gardening.” If that’s you, then you don’t have a black thumb. You have a beige thumb – indifferent and uninterested. Any activity undertaken without desire cannot have any outcome but failure. In this instance, you’re better off devoting your time and energy to something that you do enjoy. But if the desire is there, then success is possible. That beige thumb can be turned to green.

Second, what are the conditions of your yard and the soil? Have you ever had your soil tested? A soil test may reveal that your soil pH is too high or too low, or that the soil is lacking in one or more nutrients. If that’s the case, then the solution is a simple matter of amending the soil with compost, lime, or anything else that will change it from horrible to healthy – and capable of supporting life.

Do you have trees that block out much of the sunlight? In that case, you can solve the problem by doing your gardening elsewhere. Perhaps a neighbor or friend with a sunnier yard will allow you to “sharecrop” a portion of their backyard to do your gardening there. Or if your hometown park district rents out garden spaces, you can take advantage of that.

What have you tried to grow in the past and what happened after you planted it? Was it felled by disease? Or did it fail to germinate in the first place? In this instance, it may be necessary to do a little research and find vegetable cultivars that are more suited for your yard’s growing conditions. I’ll tell you what I tell all of my classes. Gardening is a fun hobby, but it does require some homework. You still have to determine the conditions of your yard and then determine what crops and what cultivars will thrive there. Did a disease destroy your tomatoes? Then I recommend planting a disease resistant hybrid like Better Boy. Did your beans weave their way throughout your garden and interfere with the growth of everything else? Then I recommend setting up a system of poles for them to grow on. Or try growing one of the low-growing bush cultivars. Did you purchase a plant while you were vacationing in Florida and then attempt to grow it in your garden at your home in North Dakota. That’s a sure-fire guarantee of failure. Next year, try growing crops that are more suited for your zone.

So you see, a black thumb doesn’t have to remain that color. With just a few simple changes in techniques, you can turn your black thumb a brilliant shining green.

And if you think you could use the services of a good garden coach, I just happen to know one that would be more than happy to help your thumb change color (hint, hint.)!