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Organic Gardening

Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.


Maybe Your Brown Thumb is Not as Brown as You Think

The invasion of tomatoes! Trust me, I don't mind!

Years ago, if anyone would have told me I would be playing around in a vegetable garden I would have laughed at them. Not because I was too good or too stuck up to be doing that, but I kind of stink at making things grow. My brown thumb is so bad I’m positive I could kill a cactus with it.

But last summer, I got the itch to try my hand at growing some herbs. Mr. Homesteader supported my idea and took me all over God’s creation looking for what I needed and wanted to start growing my seedlings.

We got home and I quickly opened the box the our mini-grow light. I wasn’t trying to grow tomato plants, so going small was an okay deal. I got my light set up, added some potting soil to my pots, watered them a bit and then plopped some seeds in them.

I did go a little overboard here. Ahem! I didn’t know you were only to plant a few seeds, I thought you had to plan the entire packet. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when my herbs grew into bushes.

Outside Gardening Poses Different Challenges

But I did so well growing my herbs indoors that I wanted to try my hand at outdoor gardening. Right from the get-go I said I was doomed. All I have to do is look at a plant and it’ll wither up and die.

I didn’t let that stop me, though, and I jumped in hands-first to dig up all the grass, weeds and rocks before Mr. Homesteader tilled the garden. Yes, I even convinced him to buy a rototiller, because I’m determined to be good at this.

Once the garden was all set, we began digging our holes to put our seeds and already grown plants in. With each plant, I rolled my eyes and huffed because I was sure I was wasting my time. I was so sure that this wouldn’t work that I actually went a few days without watering my plants at all or even checking on them. But a few days later, I went out and sure enough, my tomato plants were busting at the seams.

Building on Garden Success

We have so many tomatoes that I’m not sure we’ll need to go to the farmer’s market for canning. Or at the very least, we won’t need to buy much. My green peppers have produced about 15 peppers so far, the strawberries were eaten by some critter, and my cabbage looks like it’s dead.

The best part about this is, my green beans that I did nothing to take care of have given me so many beans I don’t know what to do with them all. We don’t have a deep freezer, so freezer space in limited. I’m sure my family will love me when we eat beans every night this week for dinner! I really didn’t have a brown thumb, I just didn’t educate myself.

The brown thumb I used to have is gone. I have a green thumb and every day I learn more and more about gardening, composting, succession planting, companion planting and container gardening. Which just makes my thumb a little greener.

Sometimes it’s not us that is the problem when it comes to caring for a garden. Weather conditions are a huge culprit as are squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks. But there are ways to protect your plants form outside threats.

Chicken wire will keep most animals away. Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather, but if you hear it’s going to frost after you already planted, covering your garden in plastic will keep them warm.

Sometimes you get a bad batch of seeds. I bought seeds at the dollar store this year and none of them sprouted. When I went to a home and garden store and bought them from there, my garden grew just fine.

Don’t be so hard on yourself — keep trying, reading and learning. That’s the best way to turn that brown thumb into a green one!

Becca Moore is an aspiring homesteader and gardener in Pennsylvania who runsSimply Quaint Homestead. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Read all of Becca’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here


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