This business was started for you, dear gardener, with the hope of someday convincing everyone that they hold within themselves the capacity to grow their own food. As a member of humanity, you have inherited the need and the ability to nurture living things. This instinct will guide you whether you grew up on a farm or have never tried to care for a plant before.
There is no such thing as a green or black thumb. No magic or special touch or secret knowledge will aid or hinder you in gardening. You can operate by instinct or rigidly follow the scientific method, achieving success either way, as long as you respect your indispensable tools of knowledge, patience, work, and a tolerance for failure. You will, in fact, fail along the way, and that’s okay–those who best succeed are often those who have best overcome failure. Losing plants or failing to get food from them doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. It means that you will be more experienced next year.
The formula for gardening is simple. Understand the nature and needs of your plants. Provide them the home and nutrition that they need. Watch them and pay attention when they behave in unexpected ways. Keep notes on your successes and failures, and the conditions under which they occurred. Then do it all again.
Most importantly, realize that gardening is about providing an environment for desirable growth, not making that growth happen. The magic is in the plants, the soil, and the marvellous ecosystem to which they are adapted. It is a remarkably short step from the wild stand of plants from which your ancient ancestor harvested, to the garden in your backyard. Most of your efforts need only be directed at bridging the difference.
Published 19 March 2013, Paul Anguiano.