Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Not Your Thumb, Your Eye

Have you ever said, “I just don’t have a green thumb?”

Did you mean by that statement that plants never thrive for you, that most plants you’ve tried to grow ended up sickly or dead?

I found all kinds of references to the term in an Internet search this evening, but only one pure definition—-in the Oxford Pocket Dictionary. It called a green thumb a “natural talent for growing things.” I agree that's what most people think the term means. So it must be something you’re born with, right? That’s the part that I don’t wholly agree with.

You see, I have a theory. I don’t think a green thumb has anything to do with your thumb or even your hands. I think a green thumb is simply an awareness of plants. In other words, it has to do with your eyes, not your thumbs. Let me tell you why.

This morning when I sat down for my coffee break (for me, that’s hot chocolate), I naturally glanced out the double window. One glance was all it took to see that my topsy-turvy tomato plant had a problem. It was a barely noticeable problem, but my eye caught it immediately. Its leaves were slightly limp. The thing needed water.

Whatever this green thumb is, my sister and I both have it. Did we get it from our mother? Maybe, but in my theory she didn’t give it to us in our genes. She gave it to us because plants were important to her. She cared about them, talked about them, babied them. The result was plant awareness, for her and many people around her.

The truth is, this plant awareness, or green thumb, doesn’t usually come at birth. It develops over time, depending on how much exposure one has to plants or to those interested in them. A few children pick up on it, for whatever reason, but mostly I think it grows through life, depending on what one experiences with plants along the way.

Okay, I can hear the nay-sayers already. “I’ve tried and tried—-and everything still dies for me.” Remember what I said at the beginning? This is a personal theory of mine. I can’t present scientific evidence. It’s just been my observation for years and years now. People who really like plants and want them to grow will usually have more success with them than those who have a myriad other interests and don’t think about the plants until they are is seriously sad shape.

You’re welcome to disagree with me, of course. Or maybe this is a new idea that makes sense to you. Whatever, spring is a glorious time. Some folks who never think about plants any other time notice them now. So hurray for spring!


Linda said...

Good observations, Esther. I've always been successful growing house plants but here in our "new" house, they've shriveled up and died. Only recently it dawned on me that former owners had special windows installed that cut down on sunlight. I'm guessing that's my problem.

Let me know how you like your topsy turvey tomato grower!


Esther said...

Interesting about your plants not thriving in your new location - bummer! The first year we did a tomato like this, it did well. The last two times, no. We're just stubborn enough to try it once more.

2 Travel 4 Fun said...

Hi, Esther, I have recently re-found your blog and have enjoyed catching up on you in a couple of large chunks. You are a great communicator, and I enjoy hearing about you.

Over the years, I have developed an awareness of plants just like you described! For the first time, I have 2 topsy turvy tomato plants on my back patio. Sure hope they flourish! In the past, tomatoes have done the best for me.

Esther said...

Best wishes on your topsy-turvies, and thanks for taking time to return communication. I love it when folks do that...


Lynee said...

I'm somewhere in the middle. My ivy hasn't died yet, but it's threatening too because I keep forgetting to water it. I'm getting ready to plant some tomato plants, and we will see how they grow. They will be in the back yard where I can't see them and therefore remember them as easily.