Container Garden Chronicles: I have a black thumb

This sungold tomato plant doesn't want to live. Photo by Bethany Fehlinger

This sungold tomato plant doesn’t want to live. Photo by Bethany Fehlinger

This time of year, I see a lot of articles, blog posts and pictures of luscious gardens and thriving food plants. I also head out weekly to Goldfinch Farm, a CSA I work at in Wrightsville, where I am surrounded by a variety of vegetation.

Yet, I have killed more of my own plants than I would like to admit. I have had some serious issues with bamboo, and I am the queen of forgetting to water my plants. It was only recently that I learned I should probably switch out my potted plant soil every six months. “Why?” I thought. Well, unless I am specifically giving them plant food, the new soil will provide new nutrients. Duh, Bethany.

I used to always blame the conditions in my apartments for Container Garden Chroniclesmy dying vegetation — too moist, not enough ventilation, not enough sun.

However, I recently learned that I just have a black thumb.

I planted a few vegetables outside the York Daily Record office: one pepper plant, eight lettuce plants and four tomato plants of two varieties, all heirloom from the Horn Farm Center in Hellam. The tomatoes were planted in the ground, as I don’t trust my maintenance skills, while the pepper and lettuce were placed in pots. I bought organic soil from Harvey’s Gardens, also in Wrightsville, and I had my fiance pick up organic fertilizer so I could feed my plants. I made sure to water, water, water, especially since that first week we had a heat wave.

I treated these plants like my little babies, and pushed aside my relaxed attitude I usually have with plants.

Well, within that first week, my sungold tomato plants were down to stems. The lettuce looked wilted and brown. They refused to thrive, and I didn’t know what to do.

Here is the thriving sungold tomato plant, foreground, and my big guy, the cosmonaut volkov. Photo by Bethany Fehlinger

Here is the thriving sungold tomato plant, foreground, and my big guy, the cosmonaut volkov. Photo by Bethany Fehlinger

My black thumb was killing them, despite my efforts.

But then, after a few refreshing rains and a bit of relaxed attitude, some of the plants began to thrive again. The lettuce sprung back and one of my two sungold plants sprouted green leaves again. My bigger tomato plants, cosmonaut volkov, which always have been my troopers, grew taller.

However, I’m still afraid of my black thumb. One of the sungolds is on its deathbed still, and something is eating at my pepper plant. Fruits of my labors haven’t grown yet to show me things are working.

Let’s see what next week brings.

Bethany Fehlinger

Bethany Fehlinger is a journalist in the Design Center at the York Daily Record. She is a graduate of Penn State University and has been a vegetarian and geek for more than six years. Twitter: @Wonder_veggie

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2 Responses

  1. June 20, 2013

    […] want to save my plants from my black thumb, but not that […]

  2. August 29, 2013

    […] back in June, I said I had a black thumb instead of a green thumb. I thought I was destined to kill off my two lettuce plants, my four […]

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