Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chapter 23 - How to Turn a Black Thumb Green

Got a black thumb?
The problem's not you.... it's your plants.

Question:  "I buy healthy looking plants but before I get a chance to get them into the ground, they dry out, shrivel up and die. I definitely have a black thumb!  Help!!"

Answer:   Many people say they have a black thumb but that's simply not so.  Plants want to grow.  They'll do everything they can to become lush and lovely.  All you have to do is stay out of their way.  It's that simple.

Most plant problems start with the plant.  A strong, healthy plant will grow up big and strong.  A weak plant may thrive when given extra TLC but often doesn't reach it's full potential.  (People are like that, too.)

Commercially, seeds are jump started under controlled conditions in a sterile potting medium with high levels of fertilizer.  The water they're given is often filtered and purified.   Like a puppy mill, mass produced plants are cranked out fast.  The idea is to get them to market and sold quickly.

The plants grow well at first and are beautiful at the store but once all the mega nutrients are used up, there's nothing left to nourish them.  The soil is "dead",  becomes rock hard and doesn't hold water. Without food and water, the plant dies.    

Here's 2 easy steps that will magically transform your black thumb to green:

1.  Get your beds ready in advance

Prepare the area before you buy plants so you can put them in the ground right away.  The sooner you get them out of their original containers the better - before the nutrients in the potting medium are used up and soil the plants came in dies.

If you've already bought plants but there'll be a delay in planting, take the plants out of their containers and tuck them into a large, holding container or bed filled with a mix of compost and garden soil.   Keep them watered. 

 2.   Expect droop

Plants (like people) need to get used to a new source of water so they may droop when you get them home and give them a drink.  But don't worry.  After a week or so, they will have gotten used to your water and will perk up.
Chlorine, by the way, is hard on bedding plants and can cause them to wither.

If your water contains chlorine, fill a container with your chlorinated tap water and let it sit at room temperature about an hour before using so the chlorine can dissipate.  This is true for container plants, too

Once the plants are in the garden however, the soil naturally filters out the chlorine so you don't have to worry about using the garden hose.

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