Gardening With a Brown Thumb

Tomato Meme1 by twopluscute
You really did.

I love the idea of gardening but with my brown, brown, thumb is hard. However, good advice and a very forgiving climate may help to turn my brown thumb a little greener.

When we were buying our house, I stopped one day just to admire the surrounding plants. Fall was coming and the trees were already changing to the marvelous foliage colors seen in New England. It so happened the previous owners were finishing up emptying the lot and so, I got the chance to talk to them. Lucky because 

the mother in law of the previous owners was there and she gave me some quick but valuable advice that proved true – and was a very practical way to start my gardening experience. Here are the snippets of advice as I recall them:

1. If you pull the plant stalks and it comes out easily, it is a weed. If it’s hard to pull, it is a tree/bush/plant you may want to keep. It sounds very generic but I found it stands true in most cases. (She also must be much stronger than me because some weeds were damn hard to pull.)

2. After the first frost (or as soon as you can in early spring), is time to cut the foliage of your hostas to the ground. Don’t be afraid, they are very resilient. I found out it is better to do it in late autumn because the dead foliage tends to pool the water of rains and melting snow. The same advice applies to irises, too.

3. Clean dead brunches (once per year or even more sparsely) from the center of the Arborvitae where the brunches intertwined but, otherwise they require practically to no maintenance.  Easy!

As a brownthumber, I know I can – eventually – succeed in at least one aspect of the gardening: cleaning the garden and keeping the weeds at bay. At the very least I can give them a good scare.  Our yard, is surrounded by an interesting mix of overgrown vegetation. Huge weeds, large trees, bushes, flowers, grass, vines, ivy and a lot of Multiflora Roses (that plant is so aggressive it is considered a noxious weed).

Cue the music of It’s jungle out there.

Gardening meme2 by twopluscute
Seriously!

How I imagine the garden was created: It looks like the house had an owner that really knew what they were doing, one owner that had no clue whatsoever and an owner who said ‘fudgit’ and did nothing.

The owner who said fudgit, let the Multifloras and the other weeds become huge. It looked luscious and rich from afar but now it is a lot of work to tame the jungle.

The owner who had no idea what they were doing, planted the Multifloras in the first place, at random spots and added wrong trees (like Black Locusts).

The owner who knew what they were doing, added a line of Arborvitae on the north side of the yard, used as both privacy fence and windscreen. We are slowly expanding that natural fence.

They also planted Rhododendrons (it means Rose-tree in Greek) as foundation plants on the north side of the house, providing extra protection against the cold. Rhododentrons are evergreen (helps insulate against cold winds and snow), love wet ground – in our case there is no need to water them and absorb the ground humidity leaving our basement’s walls dry on that side.

Plus, they bloom beautifully!

Now the house has the Newbie Owner (me) with little knowledge and big plans to get my own tomatoes. And garlic. And Greek Oregano (that’ll be quite the project in humid New England but I have a plan). I just have to do a lot of cleaning first.

Meanwhile I am actively pinning every good howto and gardening advice I can find online. Check out my often updated “Gardens, Plants, Trees” Gardening Pinterest Board for ideas you might like!

How about you? Any major yard projects planned for this year or done recently?

 

ps. We made the memes with my husband using these free online editors and Gimp.

21 thoughts on “Gardening With a Brown Thumb

  • July 15, 2015 at 10:53 pm
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    I like your content material, saved to bookmarks!

    Reply
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  • April 20, 2015 at 7:09 pm
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    Hey, this is a great place for me to invite you back to my blog and, if you type the word ‘garden’ or ‘landscape’ into the search block above my profile, you’ll get a lot of posts that may be helpful to you (like lessons we learned in renovating our landscape). I also have a Pinterest board on gardening that has a pretty good following, and it’s not full of clutter, just things that are relevant to me (and maybe you). I am a master gardener – which pretty much just means I have good reference material when I need answers to things, not that I’m a know-it-all. Rhododendron, btw, is my state’s flower (West Virginia). It grows freely among our hills, but I cannot get it to grow in my mostly sunny landscape, can you believe that?! I have one variety on the north side of my yard, but not the big leaf variety. Have fun, Rambo, and you may want to just get a chainsaw for the multiflora invasion. 😉

    Reply
    • April 20, 2015 at 7:53 pm
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      We bought a chainsaw! We are just too fearful to use it, yet. You are right though, it would make the Multiflora pruning much easier (and safer).
      If it helps, my Rhododendrons are in full shadow, getting – maybe – an hour of afternoon sun.

      Impressive that you are a master gardener, I will definitely check out your gardening posts. 🙂

      Reply
  • April 8, 2015 at 12:29 am
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    Haha, that tip about pulling on something is so true! I just planted the first vegetable garden of my life and had my mom over to tell me what were weeds. I gave one a little tug and it popped out so I guess that was a weed! Good luck with your garden. Those meme’s gave me a good laugh cause boy can I relate!

    Reply
    • April 9, 2015 at 10:22 am
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      That little trick does seem to work, indeed. Glad you had a laugh with the memes and – if you feel like it – let us know how the veggies turn out. 🙂

      Reply
  • April 2, 2015 at 9:39 pm
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    We bought our house from a lady that loved exotic plants and a man who didn’t know how to build a house! LOL True story….I have some great gardens to work with and very unique flowers. The house….oh boy! Nothings in the right place. Slowly fixing things inside and adding more plants (and moving a few.) outside.

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday! I hope you’ll join us again this week!

    ~Lisa

    Reply
    • April 2, 2015 at 9:50 pm
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      We have a lot in common then; you should see how our deck and porch are made. Probably made by the exact same man who built your house! 😀

      Thank you for your great party. 🙂

      Reply
  • April 1, 2015 at 10:29 am
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    This is awesomet- thank you for sharing! I have a terrible habit of killing plants 🙁 Maybe this year will be my year!

    Reply
    • April 2, 2015 at 11:02 am
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      That’s what I am hoping for, too. That ‘this is the year’ I will kill less plants. 😀

      Reply
  • March 30, 2015 at 3:25 pm
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    Oh my do I have major yard plans, I shudder to think. And you think you have a brown thumb? I don’t even want to think what color mine is 😮 I am going to follow your board 😀

    Reply
  • March 28, 2015 at 4:55 am
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    Ha,ha, ha! You are Rambo in the garden?! Awesome! Well, I wish I could help you with gardening stuff, but no. Gardening is not something I know much about. However, I am hoping to grow a couple of small things indoors for k and I. It’s part of our spring / how do things grow? lesson. I hope we can grow something and not kill it. 🙁

    Reply
    • March 28, 2015 at 1:22 pm
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      I am a scared Rambo. The Multifloras are fighting back. 😀

      Accidental plant killing also provides lessons. Stay positive! You can try growing yams in a glass container (I have a how to in my gardening pinterest board) and also what we did when I was a kid, get:
      – a wide yogurt cup or any wide plastic cup, even a plate works
      – cotton
      – lentils or beans
      Put cotton in cup, wet well, put beans on top, keep wet. Wait.
      They will make baby plants very soon and you can even do intro biology by opening the seed (embryo, cotyledon, etc)

      Reply
  • March 27, 2015 at 6:48 pm
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    You can definitely teach us a thing or two about gardening. We love to be outdoors and try to do the best we can between pollen season and then the heat of summer 🙂 Thanks for sharing your great tips…and your fun photo!

    Vicki and Jennifer 2 Bees in a Pod

    Reply
    • March 27, 2015 at 10:58 am
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      We are on the same page, only my flowers aren’t doing that well. 😀

      Reply
  • March 26, 2015 at 11:32 pm
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    That photo up there of how you garden cracked me up!!! I look forward to journeying along with you this season!!! So many good things to come! Nicole

    Reply
    • March 27, 2015 at 9:59 am
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      Hehe I lough with that meme, too. I look forward to learning from your gardening posts.

      Reply

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