Green Fingers: 10 Simple Steps to Turning your Black Thumb Green

There does seem to be some interest in the idea of a Green Fingers post, and as it is the growing season, I figured I’d do a few of them.  They will all be prefaced by the tag Green Fingers, and if you search by that tag, you will be able to find all of my gardening/horticulture-related posts.

Gardening isn’t as hard as it can seem.  To some of us, it’s pretty intuitive.  We have a connection with plants.  We ‘know’ when they’re thirsty, when they need to be re-potted, trimmed, etc – but this is not the case for everyone.  Trust me, it doesn’t make you a bad Pagan or Witch to not possess a natural green thumb.

There are a few basics that I think can help to turn even the blackest thumb green.  Here are 10:

  1. Plant choice.

    When you were new to Paganism/Witchcraft, did you jump right into astral projection or did you learn the basics of meditation first?  Don’t go trying to grow henna or nightshade right out of the gate.

    If you’re new to gardening, or you don’t have the best track record with plants, start simple.  You know those kits that they sell for kids in the garden centers?  Daisies, strawberries, beans, pumpkins, etc?  Grab one of those and give it a go.  Companies pick things that grow easily and quickly for kids because they know that kids are probably not the worlds’ best gardeners.

    Heck, try a chia pet if you can’t find anything else.  They don’t even need dirt.

  2.  Read the instructions (and follow them).

    There are growing directions on every packet of seeds or starter kit sold commercially.  And I do recommend that you start with commercial seeds if you have trouble with plants.

    On the back of the packet you’ll find information like what amount of sunlight the plant needs, when to plant if you’re planting outdoors, how deep to plant, how far apart from other plants, how often to water, etc.  This is important information, and it’s not just a suggestion.  Following care instructions will greatly increase your ability to grow plants successfully.

  3. Forget-me-not

    I think one of the most common issues people have with plants is that they forget to take care of them.  Especially indoor plants.  With outdoor plants you have a bit more leeway because nature will often water them for you.  Inside plants need care.  So make sure that your plant is somewhere where you will see it everyday – like the kitchen or bathroom window sill.

  4. Too much love is smothering.

    The second most common issue is with over-watering.  If you’re following the instructions on the seed packet (or the plant label if you bought a plant that was already started), then this shouldn’t be a big problem, but it’s often easy to forget when you last watered.

    A good rule of thumb is to touch the soil.  If it feels damp, err on the side of already watered.  Wait until tomorrow to give your little green friend another drink.

    Also, check the drainage tray.  If there is water in it, hold off.

  5. Talk to them.

    Plants are people too!  Ok, not really, but they do love attention.  Even if you only say ‘good morning’, it helps.  Try to talk to your plants as often as you talk to your pets.

  6. Daylight and direct sunlight are different.

    It’s important to place your plants where they won’t fry in the glare from a window.  It’s also important that they do get daylight for most of the day.  Most indoor plants do well in partial sun, that means that you want them in a room that gets daylight, but not necessarily direct sunlight.

    A room with north or south-facing windows fit the ‘partial sun’ bill.  If you have rooms with windows that are east or west-facing, you may have to be a bit more careful.  In my house, the only plants that go in the sunroom (west-facing windows) are ones that like a lot of sunlight.

  7. Appropriate pot size.

    Pots are like shoes.  Pots that are too small lead to cramped, unhappy plants.  If you buy a plant from a store, chances are good that they will need to be re-potted right away.  Commercial greenhouses can cause plants to grow way too fast, and as a result, they can get root bound really easily.

    Make it easy on yourself and buy the next size up of pot while you’re there.  For example, when I buy a plant in a 4″ pot, I usually buy a 6″ or 8″ pot for it to go in.

  8. Not all potting soil is the same.

    Buying dirt can seem like an idiot move to a lot of folks (similar to the idea of buying water in a plastic bottle), but it is important for giving yourself a leg up in the gardening department.  Many potting soils will be enriched with various nutrients for plants.

    Be sure to read the label.  Nutrient compositions are different for different plants.  What’s good for veggies may not be what you need for your inside flowers or your trees.

  9. Pruning.

    Not all plants will need a lot of pruning.  But most plants will benefit from a bit of upkeep.  If leaves/stalks die or turn brown, pinch them off (or trim with shears/scissors if the stalk is thicker).

    For flowering plants, pinch off dead flower heads to increase the amount of new blossoms.  Once a few of the flowers have gone to seed, the plant thinks that the growing season is coming to a close and it winds down for winter hibernation.

    Think of it like getting your hair trimmed.  Split ends are bad news!

  10. Water quality.

    This is something that I never had to worry about until I lived in the city.  The mineral content of hard water can negatively affect your plants.  If you filter your water to drink, use filtered water for your plants too.

I hope that this will help some folks get their hands dirty this season.

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