7. I Have A Black Thumb

I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive.

Albert Enstein

If you can't excel with talent, triumph with effort.

Dave Weinbaum

My green thumb came only as a result
of the mistakes I made while learning
to see things from the plant's point of view.

H. Fred Ale

What if you know absolutely zilch about plants? Or what if you only know about how to care about houseplants but have no idea about anything else? Maybe you have grown a few vegetables, pansies and impatiens but know little about trees and shrubs. Do not let your lack of knowledge prohibit you from signing on. Having a green thumb simply means paying attention to your plants and its requirements.

Some people are lucky enough to learn how to garden from people in their family. Perhaps their mother treasured roses or a beloved grandmother grew all the vegetables which graced their dinner table. My Dad’s the one who showed me how to weed and shared his excitement about seeds and the magic of how something so tiny could grow into something wildly beautiful or delicious with the right kind of nurturing.

While not everyone has a family connection to gardening where nuggets of sagely advice are passed from generation to generation, today’s technology allows for a wide variety of resources, readily available at your fingertips. Nowadays a wealth of information is available without having to pay for an expensive college education.

You can surf the web, checkout gardening books from the library, weekly newspaper columns and instructional DVDs. Network television and cable channels especially the ones specializing in home improvement shows offer loads of information. Local cable channels offer regional gardening tips with plant information specific to where you love. Local radio shows offer helpful tips on how to combat plant diseases and fight insect problems common to your area.

Don’t forget about free courses, lectures and seminars offered by private and public gardens, botanical gardens and arboretums, garden clubs and societies and retail nursery stores. Check the appendix for a list of reference books. If you would like to further enhance your learning with more rigorous studies, chapter 9 will cover master gardener courses, continuing education and night school classes, certificate and degree programs.

One of the best ways to learn is by starting your own garden if you do not already have one. Mother Nature is one of the best teachers. Do not let lack of land or space be a barrier to starting a garden. Look for plots of land at community gardens, bare patches of space in empty tree boxes, plant containers if you have no green space or volunteer to help take care of someone else’s garden in exchange for garden space.

As a beginner, if you’re curious about a plant in someone else’s garden, even if you don’t know them, just ask them questions about their plants. You will find most gardeners are more than willing to share their secrets and often, even cuttings and seeds.

All you need is a willingness to learn and a commitment to continuous learning. Although this is not specific to gardening, for inspiration on the power of perseverance check out a video from the “Torrance Community Dance Group”.

This rag tag group led by a geeky guy actually put in a decent hip hop performance. Eventually they end up with a music video viewed by millions and perform at the Grammy Music Awards. Check out their video on You Tube. Look for “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim and you will come away with the positive outlook that if they can have fun and fulfill their potential, so can you.

Excerpt from the forthcoming book Getting Dirty. If you would like me to let you know when the book becomes available, just send your e-mail to adriennejenkins@verizon.net.

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