Brown Thumb Vanquished!

Dear World,

I have not written in quite a long time! I do apologize, but I promise I have been storing up a nice post or two. The one I am most pleased by is my recent discovery that I have finally conquered my previously persistent gardening curse.

Any time I have had a plant, it has wound up sadly leaving this world. Its departure was always slow and mysterious. I would watch it slowly drift away, trying all sorts of things to make it better – more water, less water, more sun, less sun – always bumbling about ignorantly in the futile race to save the plant. (Don’t tell anyone … I have even killed a succulent.)

Things began to change when a couple of months ago, after a long hiatus without living things within my four walls, I decided to give it another go.

I gave myself three rules:

1. Do your research. Read up on plants from as many sources as you can to find which ones you think have the best shot in your dim apartment.

2. One plant at a time. I told myself, “Start with one. If you can keep it healthy for at least a month, then you can move on to the next, and the next, and slowly grow your collection” … or “urban garden,” as my research has taught me is the trendy thing to say.

3. Put it where you won’t forget to water it! For this, that meant in plain sight in my apartment, or outside the front door, where I will see it when walking in. If I were to start out on the back patio, I wouldn’t see them, and therefore wouldn’t think of them, and therefore they would die.

These, as we might say in teaching, were my effort to “set myself up for success.”

My first baby: Phillippa, the rubber plant.

Can you see her? She is the only actual living plant in the picture.


I need to get a better picture of her. She is quite lovely, with burgundy tips at the end of her stalks, like pink paper all rolled up.  When a new leaf sprouts, those burgundy stalks unroll to reveal a fragile, translucent light green leaf (also a little wrinkly … I guess like a real newborn anything). And I can proudly say my rubber plant has not only survived, but grown at least 4 new leaves and even a new baby stalk at the base, which continues to grow.

Second project: The herb garden


Having declared the Phillippa as one point for me, I abided by Rule #2, decided to for my second planty project … 


I have long dreamed of having a “salsa garden,” in which I would grow all the ingredients necessary to make a homemade salsa. While I don’t quite have that, I did learn that it was possible to grow several herbs inside an apartment — even one that doesn’t get that much direct sunlight. THANK YOU, GARDENISTA for inspiring me! If you are also interested in getting some green in your 425 square foot life, see this very helpful post to learn which herbs have a shot in the shade. You might be surprised!

So one weekend Daniel and I went to a local nursery and picked up some peppermint, oregano, basil, and sweet margoram (I didn’t know what it was, but it smelled nice, and at the very least I thought it might make a nice tea). Then, when Daniel was out of town, and I was left to my own whims, I bought several more at our local co-op: more basil, rosemary, spearmint, and even a tomato plant … just for fun. Then at Whole Foods: the cilantro I had been truly hunting for and a couple of lavender plants.

Here are the “before” and “one week after” pictures.

Oh, it just makes me want to kiss them!

IMG_1567  IMG_1588

An INCREDIBLE secret, I discovered along the way, also with the help of my new garden coaches at was in this post: How to water any potted plant. So far since reading it, I have not under-watered nor overwatered any plant! (*Cheering from the bleachers* … or maybe this is more of a *knock on wood* moment). If you also suffer from my watering woes, this article will change your life.

Another of the great things is, that now that I have plants indoors that I’m used to watering, I can have them on the back porch (breaking rule #3), because watering is already in my everyday awareness. Plus, the weather has been so lovely recently (somehow Austin is fending off the horrid Central Texas heat further and further into Spring), we have been sitting out on our patio more often.

What do you think, friends? Can I officially say my brown thumb is vanquished? If I am right, it will be a great thing for plants everywhere … or maybe just in my general vicinity!

I have great plans for my current plants and plants-to-be. Here is to more green posts to come…



One thought on “Brown Thumb Vanquished!

  1. Pingback: The Printable Bug | 425 square feet

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