Until not long ago, I was a brown-thumb. But motivated by the taste of the nutrient-packed stuff I eventually managed to grow, I persevered and greened up! All it took was to grow one plant at the time (use small and slow solutions).
I often hear people discouraged with gardening because they bought these large raised beds and all their attempts at pulling anything off the ground failed – bar for weeds.
There may be many reasons:
- inadequate watering patterns,
- poor substrate,
- wrong season,
- pests and disease, etc.
“Planting too many plants at once is often where it comes down to.
Unless you are an established gardener, I wouldn’t recommend it.”
My first plant was parsley. I can never get over the taste of freshly harvested home-grown parsley. In comparison, the kind you buy in supermarkets or in flake form tastes just like lawn clippings.
So I scattered seeds of Italian parsley in a large terracotta pot filled with compost, watered well with worm wee and watched it grow. Oh tall it grew! Oh tasty it was! Five years on and it is going stronger than ever – I’ve saved seeds and sowed them every year. The seeds and compost came from a friend. The worm wee came free from our wormfarm. The terracotta pot came from freecycle.
The second plant was rosemary. I planted a cutting in a pot. Watered too much and watched it rot. I tried again. At my third attempt, the cutting grew so big that I made more cuttings. I also heavily pruned the plants when they grew too big, dried the cuttings for later use, added fresh sprigs into a bottle of red wine vinegar, put some in smelly shoes, in pot-pourri, in the linen cabinet, gave some to friends, made a hedge, etc.
Grow these two plants right, then move on to a third one (basil), then a fourth (mint), then try tomatoes, salad greens, beans, flowers…
I don’t ever buy seeds unless I cannot find them from my local mob. Ask the old lady with the garden at the end of the street – she’ll be thrilled to open her seed box to you! Or join the local permaculture group, find me there and meet other gardeners and ex-brown thumbs!
Previously published in The Rural Grapevine November 2014