Social media sites are packed with gorgeous photos of thriving, healthy plants. Blossoms are vibrant. Delicate fronds are graceful. Fruits and vegetables are blemish-free. Rows are surveyor-straight. There isn’t a single weed in sight. Everyone has a green thumb but you. You envy those photos and hang your head in shame.
Your thoughts turn to developing new hobbies. Stamp collecting? Geo-caching? Bird watching? Those have to be easier and less shame-based, right? But before you lay out cash for new books or gadgets, I have some advice, “Don’t turn in your trowel just yet”.
Whether you are a budding gardener or someone who has been tending to plants for decades, there is one unspoken, but universal truth. We all kill plants. Lack of water. Not enough sunlight. Over-fertilizing. Unchecked pest population (aphids or spiders mites anyone?). Or just plain forgetfulness. We are human and these sorts of thing happen.
It is time for a true confession and peek-behind-the-curtain of perfection. You see, I have a horticulture degree. I know how things grow (or are supposed to) in the plant kingdom. There are years of industry experience in my back pocket. I have all the proper credentials and pedigree. I shouldn’t kill plants, but I do. And here is the peek-behind-the-curtain part…everyone kills plants. You just don’t see it because we don’t post photos of our failures and as a result dear public, you have the false impression that every single seed, plant, fruit or blossom grown in your garden will be stunning.
My horticulture sins are many. They include but are not limited too:
- Fertilizing too much
- Planting too deep
- Ignoring insects for too long
- Letting weeds grow in my yard
- Pruning too many roots off transplants
- Watering too little
- Setting plants out when it was too cold
- Dropping a tray of newly seeded pots
With such a list of sins, you may think I have a brown thumb. But in all honestly, my thumb is quite green. The list merely represents years of experimenting in the backyard garden. As all gardeners know, your garden is never finished. Every year, there is something to tweak: moving plants, trying new varieties, experimenting with irrigation timing, and honing organic gardening practices.
As much as I would love to show you fabulous photos from my garden, it would not be a fair representation of my own shortcomings…. hence my true confession. I freely admit that my plants must survive on benign neglect. It is not my intention to deliberately do in my chlorophyll-filled friends, but mistakes happen.
Gardeners, I encourage you to garden with passion and joy. Try new varieties. Move some plants around to see where they do best. Practice organic and/or sustainable gardening. Deal with garden pests in a timely fashion. Water when plants need it. But above all, forgive yourself if something dies. It is part of gardening. Along the way, take photos of your successes and compost your mistakes.