Warning! Black Thumb Loose Again

Plant abuser—stop her before she plants again!

I have a reputation for killing the hardiest of plants.

Not only do I have a black thumb, the other nine are coal-colored as well. 

Houseplants don’t stand a chance. I water them, I feed them, I talk to them, I place them where direct “sun don’t shine,” but sooner rather than later the first tell-tale signs of yellowing or falling leaves herald in the impending death of another brave plant.

If my over-zealous care and kindness don’t kill them, then the tiny aphids and white flies will. Where do these mini monsters come from? This is inside my home, for goodness sake. This is Castro Valley where everything is temperate.

I bathe both sides of each white-flecked leaf in the sink, careful not to drown the rest of the plant. I dry each leaf carefully and coat them with canola oil. After its spa treatment, I put the plant back in my kitchen picture window so it can look out at all the free-range plants. 

The next day the aphids are back. Last year, I bought some ladybugs but they must have been foreign or stupid because I couldn’t make them stay on my plants to feed on the feast that lay before them.

Several years ago, I ventured out into the yard to see if I could rid myself of the black thumb curse. Perhaps free-range plants were resistant to bumbling but well-meaning gardeners. Many of my Castro Valley friends extol the virtue of growing their own vegetables and living off the land in a Burpee Seed kind of way.

With garden-gloved hands I went to my local Center Street Hardware store and bought seeds — tomato, zucchini, lettuce, and pumpkin. Why I bought pumpkin, I do not know. John the salesman asked if I was going to grow a big thousand-pound one and enter it into the annual Half Moon Bay contest. Little did he know to whom he was talking.

I planted most of the seeds in containers placed on tables so I would not have to bend or get on my knees to chart the progress of the “vegetables of my labor.” 

Now if the sun, temperature, rain, bugs, backyard squirrel, random birds, do or do not do their thing, I should have a salad fit for a green-thumbed gardener in a month or so.

In the meantime, I will visit a nearby farmers’ market till its harvest season.

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Holly Ann Z. April 26, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Best of luck to your crop!


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