I have a friend who tells me she couldn’t grow a plant if her life depended on it. “I have a ‘brown thumb’,” she says and every plant that has unfortunately wound up in her hands dies an untimely death. Well, I’m here to tell you there is no such thing as a brown thumb!
Plants need what people need – the basics: air, light, food and water. We tend not to like things to prey upon us and neither do plants. And we certainly do not care for certain bacteria and definitely do not like viruses. Guess what? Neither do plants! So, your approach to gardening, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran like me, should begin with that basic premise – plants need what people need.
What I hope to achieve with this blog is to help you understand that with a little bit of instruction, a good dose of trial and error, and some imagination, you can enjoy the delights of creating your own outdoor space in which to relax, play, and even work – I often bring my laptop out to the patio to ease the pain of having to work at home! As you can see from the featured image at the top of this post, you couldn’t ask for a better “desk” view!
Here’s a very brief overview on the essentials to get us started.
Stay in the Zone
I live in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Hot, dry summers, and moist winters with heavy fog, are usually the norm. Unfortunately, 98% of California is currently experiencing severe drought. (Because of that, much of what I write will have a water-wise slant to it.)
A plant’s performance is largely governed by climate: length of growing season, summer highs, winter lows, wind, amount of rainfall and the time it falls, and humidity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture divides most of North America into climate zones taking only winter lows into account. My go-to gardening bible is Sunset’s Western Garden Guide. Sunset has created its own climate zone map which looks at all the factors mentioned above.
I once heard a fellow Master Gardener say she was in “zone denial” when it came to gardening. She would try to plant anything anywhere and a lot of the time that strategy did not work. I say stay in the zone! For example, you may like the look of a lush, tropical garden but if you live in a climate such as mine where the summer temps can easily reach 100 degrees, you’ll spend way to much time, water, and a ton of money trying to keep those plants alive. When you’re researching which plants to buy, look for the zone associated with the plant, and purchase accordingly.
Keeping Your Green Friends Alive
Air, light, food, and water. Different plants have different needs so if your plant isn’t thriving go back to the four basics, and access the situation. Many times just moving the plant so it doesn’t get too much sun, or adjusting the amount of water given, will do the trick. Remember, especially if you have container plants, that as the plant utilizes available nutrients, you’ll have to feed it to replace what it has used. As this blog develops, I’ll provide useful tips and tricks for specific types of plants which will help you in your gardening adventure.
I Absolutely Hate Snails, Slugs and Things That Munch in the Night
You’ve checked the kind of light your plant is getting, you know you’re giving it the right amount of water and food but something still isn’t right. That’s when we check to see if any critters are getting the munchies late at night, and are dining at your garden drive-thru. Can’t wait to tell you about my travails with snails! But, I’ll save that for another post. There are also bacterial fungi, and viruses, to take into consideration. I know, I know…it sounds overwhelming but that’s where I come in. Photos attached to my posts will show various kinds of damage these pesky little guys can do, and give you tips on how to prevent it from happening, or diagnose, and treat it.
You Will Kill a Plant – Get Over It
If you’re new to gardening, I highly recommend two things: 1) don’t buy expensive plants and 2) keep a garden journal. I can’t tell you how many plants I’ve killed over my 40 years of gardening. I used to mourn. Especially if the damn thing cost me an arm and a leg. But, I learn from my mistakes, and move on. You, too, will kill plants, and that’s why a garden journal is key. A journal is your way to keep track of mistakes so you don’t repeat them. I keep a simple spiral notebook in which I paste the little plastic informational tag thing that comes with the plant. Under it I write the date purchased, and the location in the garden where planted. Should the plant leave this earth prematurely, I write that in my journal, too, including why I think it died. Keeping a journal may help you from making the same mistake twice.
Life of Bunny
You can’t think of me, Bunny, without thinking about gardening. Anyone that knows me, knows that if I have free time I’m out in the garden, researching plants, or doing something else related to the hobby. Wait, hobby?!?! Not for me – it’s a huge part of my life. Gardening makes me who I am. In my humble opinion, gardeners are great people. Think about it – people, through gardening, learn to nurture, have patience, persevere, and develop artistic capabilities. Anyone can become a gardener. I hope you come back to visit Life of Bunny soon so I can help you get your hands dirty, and create that garden you’ve always wanted!