My Blue Thumb


I do not have a green thumb when it comes to growing plants. I have just enough success to keep me semi-motivated and hopeful, so I suppose it isn’t what people would call brown, either. I think it’s blue.

It’s pretty sad to have a blue thumb because I love to garden. Or at least I did until I moved to Texas. My particular spot in this big state sits in what the USDA calls the Grand Prairie. The Texas Almanac website describes it pretty well:

“Upland soils are mostly dark-gray, alkaline clays; some are shallow over limestone and some are stony. Some areas have light-colored loamy soils over chalky limestone.”

If that wasn’t a description of one the worst places ever to plant a gardener, my particular spot is also not securely fenced. It would keep out a rabbit, I suppose, or a dog. But my garden sits next to 650 acres of woods. Our fence does not keep out the things that climb and dig and fly.

I should have known something was wrong when the Bermuda grass didn’t encroach. I should have known this wasn’t going to work when a varmint dug up fourteen hills of potatoes in one night.

Moving here from a more normal part of the world, I went searching for oat straw for my first vegetable garden. The confused clerks kept pointing me to landscape mulch. Last year I found out local gardeners mulch with pine bark to make the soil more acidic. I amended the alkaline soil but then watered it with alkaline tap water from our alkaline lakes.

I deterred a few varmints (and gardeners) with smelly toilet bowl fresheners hung from the tomato cages. I discovered garden marauders also don’t care for Cinnabar perfume by Estee Lauder.

I bought some fertilizer, albeit chemical, that also acidifies the soil. It comes highly recommended by the guy who sells it. We’ll see how that works short term, while I continue to build up my storehouse of organic matter. (That is, I will try to build it up faster than the organic-eating varmints deplete it.)

All this would sound like good excuses for not having green digits attached to my hands. Except I’m also having a bit of trouble in the potted plants, which are in perfectly wonderful dirt and sitting by the front drive where critters rarely venture.

Last summer the pots had the most horrible attack of aphids I’ve ever experienced. I think my garden sage is all done in. It has roots, though, so I’m waiting to see what spring brings before singing the blue thumb eulogy.

It is spring here, by the way, and has been since the middle of February. I saw grasshoppers on March first. Summer is expected on March 15 and the drought arrives, typically, by the first of June.

I keep pots in the house, also. Some are those fussy tropicals like Christmas cactus. They’re fine. It’s the peace lily that refuses to thrive in Texas. Peace lily is the easiest, least troublesome house plant I’ve ever owned. At least it was, until I moved it here.

Here, the leaves turned yellow, then brown, then crunchy. I repotted and fertilized and got new, baby leaves—beautiful leaves until they grew up, turned yellow, etc. So, though the plant is over three years old, it’s still about the same size it was when I moved here.

I stumbled across the problem on an Internet plant site—roly polies. Or pill bugs, as most people call them. They’re not true bugs, but crustaceans, and diatomaceous earth will do them in. So there. Except I’m still seeing those brown leaves, though not as often, and still singing about my blue thumb.

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About janets123

Children's writer, newspaper columnist, essayist, poet, storyteller
This entry was posted in Short Takes on Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to My Blue Thumb

  1. janets123 says:

    Yes, well, looking at your blog, I suppose you would think this funny, you green thumb, you. 😉 Thanks.

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