Wednesday, August 29, 2012

from Chapter 1 - To Water Or Not To Water

Ninety percent of successful plant care is making the correct watering decisions..  If the plant is not looking good, the first thing to investigate, and the most important to adjust, is soil moisture.  If the soil is too wet or too dry, the roots can't function properly, and the plant starts to fail; too wet,  the plant is drowning, too dry and it's starving to death.


This is the AAA,  the First and Foremost,  the Most Especially Important Secret of the Green Thumb!

If you've never been able to quite understand the variations between "wet" and "dry",  or if you're not sure that what you mean by "moist" is the same as what someone else means, here's a little thing you can do at home.   Take a small handful - a couple of tablespoons - of potting soil or potting medium, and make sure it is completely dry; you may have to microwave it awhile, or let it sit around for a few days.  Then put it into a small bowl, and pinch some between your fingers.  This is "dry," this is what people mean if they use the term "completely dry." Now start adding water a little at a time - about  1/4 teaspoon - and stir it around well.  Let it sit for a few minutes after each addition of water, to allow the particles in the soil to absorb the water.   Pick up a little soil and squeeze it after each portion of water has been absorbed ,  try to feel how it changes from the barest hint of moisture to soft and cool to dripping wet.  Match  your samples to  the  moisture chart to check what you should be looking for.

           END of excerpt.  Stay tuned for more ways to investigate soil moisture

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Excerpts from introduction

Now I'm going to start something new.  I'm going to start printing excerpts from The Color of Your Thumb Has Nothing To Do With It, which is the title of my book teaching how to take care of potted plants the way the professionals do it; it will be part of a total package of text that goes with the videos.   First, let me just tell you a little about myself and why I'm doing this, for those who don't know me.  I've been a professional interior horticulturist - plant lady, plant tech, interior landscaper, whatever - for around thirty years.  In the course of my daily work, I must have had literally thousands of people ask me questions about their plants at home, or the plants right there in their offices, or just plants in general.  And when I told them I was working on a book of plantcare, they all said wonderful idea, let me know, I'll buy it.   So folks out there in the big world, it's happening.

There are lots of houseplant books out there, with chapters and chapters on taking care of plants,  pages and pages about the hundreds of plants that can be kept indoors.  Here's the problem, as I see it: they're way too simple where they need to be extensive, and too extensive where they need to be simple.  For instance, watering is the core of successful plantcare, yet most books have only from  a few sentences to several paragraphs on the subject.  In The Color of Your Thumb, the first 2 chapters are devoted to watering!  How could I find that much to say about watering, you ask?  Read the book and find out!

How about all those hundreds of kinds of plants.  In interior landscaping, we use only around 40 varieties, because they are the most reliable and easiest to keep beautiful; in my book, those are the only ones we'll deal with, because not only are they the best for commercial purposes, they are also the best for beginners. I think this will be a totally unique how-to experience,  and I hope many people will find it useful.

Without further ado,  here are some excerpts from the Intro to The Color of Your Thumb Has Nothing To Do With It ....

In modern times, the business of interior landscaping developed in the late sixties, when people began to become more in touch with their world and  felt the need to see live plants in their indoor environments.

 Plants began to appear everywhere; but they were living things, and without the proper care, the lovely, expensive greenery often died a very quick brown death.  It  became apparent that some specialized knowledge was involved in keeping plants looking attractive, beyond that of the occasional secretary, maintenance person, or cleaning crew.  Interior Landscaping and professional plant care were thus born.

"That looks so easy," people often say when they watch a pro work,  "anyone can do that."  And it's true -  with a little knowledge and practice, anyone can!

...many professional  ":Secrets of the Green Thumb" wil be revealed to you.  For instance, you'll learn how to have beautiful plants by watering only twice a month or less; how to keep green things attractive in black cave-like corners (black to the plants you understand,  not to insult your corners); and how to understand what your plants are saying to you - you may not need to talk to your plants, but being a good listener is always important.

The first part of this guidebook,  The Secrets of the Green Thumb, will give you a basic working knowledge of how plants operate and how to take care of them.  The second part , The Variety Pages, will get into the specifics of each kind of plant, so you'll know how to apply the information from the first part.

 We're going to start with water, because it's basic to everything, and if you understand watering you'll understand plantcare.  Next we'll look at the soil, dig down in that dirt, get to the real nitty gritty - this is where it's all happenin' baby, yeah -  hope you're not afraid to get your fingers dirty.  Then on to the plants themselves, from roots up to leaves - how they're built, how they work.  Do they talk?  Do they listen?  Do they go ouch?  Well, we'll see.  A look at plant enemies is next; bugs, disease, stress - yes, plants get stressed out -  and they're depending on you to fix it for them.  Finally, we'll consider the tools and techniques of plant grooming; you'll learn to trim, tie, and tidy till all your plants look like first-place winners at a horticultural fair.


That's the excerpts from the Intro.  Please, anybody, if you have a moment, send me a comment.  I'd love to know what you think of my project.
                                                                                (by Marlie Graves)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Not so easy, is it, Mrs. Jones.

You would think a simple thing like writing everyday would be easy enough.  Just write. Everyday.  But here it is thursday, and I didn't write at all yesterday or tuesday, or monday.   Now I did write in some forums, but that was not the point.  I wanted to do a blog post everyday.

And it's not so easy, to make (or find) time every day to do something I haven't spent several decades doing, even if it was something I always wanted to do.  I have been working at a steady clip - I've written on several forums, researched some stuff on blogging, buttons and gadgets and linking and so on,  and spent alot of tuesday learning about content marketing and site curation.  And if I squint my logic center real hard, I can justify time spent on Pinterest as being business-related.  But it's more than just Writing Everyday.  It's about overcoming obstacles.

It's about overcoming procrastination  - which has dogged me all my life - and focusing ( I joke about being AADD, but I think I probably qualify) ((Adult Attention Deficit Disorder)) (((In case you were wondering.)))      It is so effin EASY to go off on tangents.  Like Pinterest...I could sit there all day, playing around on that.  Or  reading about blogging, and content, and marketing, and making websites, and on and on.  Then I have to grab myself by my internal shoulders and give myself a shake, and say all that will take care of itself, just do your own things.  The text.  The videos.  The people with knowledge you need will appear when you need them.  One step at a time.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  It doesn't have to be perfect before you can proceed.

So now it's not even thursday, it's friday, and I don't know the purpose of this ramble, unless it's to mutually encourage someone else who's struggling to overcome obstacles, to say keep on keepin' on.  Some of us have crazy passion; the rest of us have to chop it out a swing at a time.  So now, before the little granddaughter gets up from her nap, I will post this, and maybe tonight I'll report some more on the status of the videos, and when you'll be able to see something.  And just so you know, sometimes green thumbs aren't just dirty, they also get splinters in them.

Monday, August 13, 2012

I'm trying to post, really I am.  I had a some brilliant insights and entertaining comments ready to posteritize (post for posterity, get it, get it...) when my cursor accidentally swept over a wrong spot, and pouff - the whole thing gone, into the ether, lost forever.  Par for the course.  So now this becomes my sunday post - I know,  it's monday - because baby darlin' is up wanting lunch and to help grandma on the computer.  And also to pull hair off the cat and deposite it on my knee.  So you can see, other duties call to me...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

It's Saturday night, and I'm finishing my day's writing.  I've spent 2 or 3 hours answering questions in a couple of the forums that I subscribe to.  I started on the forums under the name The Ficus Wrangler, and if you google that name, you will find all my postings listed.  I started on the forums as a way to begin creating a web presence, and it's really alot of fun.  It will seem that I've only been at it for 15 or 20 minutes, but when I look at the clock, 2 hours have passed!  I didn't get to any of the "techology"  (my own word) though, just not enough time.  I really need to find how to make my blog posts notify on friends' emails and FB's.  But Kevin - our 14 year old grandson - is here this weekend, it being his last blowout before school starts again, so we've been doing some stuff with him today - flea market wandering (his choice), dinner in Tampa, and tomorrow a trip to MOSI.  So now the day is over, I've done some writing, some plant stuff, some blog stuff, and now I'm going to do some sleep stuff. But just so you know, green thumbs aren't green, they're dirty.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The week has passed, mostly;  I've spent alot of time working on the condensation process and studying the marketing of e-courses, e-books, e-bay, e-this, and e-that until my poor head is about to explode.  You know, I didn't pick up the internet in a serious way until about 3 months ago, and now I'm on such a steep learning curve it leaves me breathless sometimes.  I just sort of get something figured out, at least to be able to use it a little, and then I find myself swept off to a new aspect, and swimming through mud again. I really wanted to continue shooting the videos - we'd figured out the process, it was going well, and we were having   alot of fun. can't stay in that ol' comfort zone.

 The objective for me, now, here, seems to be to push back the boundaries on several fronts at once. So, along with working to condense and edit, to pick out little gems for the trailers, to investigate websites, e-course/e-book, self-publishing, host sites, pay options, & who knows what else, I'm publicly stating, here and now, that I will write each day.

 Writing is, after all, one of the goals that lies beyond the publishing of Green Thumb Secrets.  I'm not ready for one of those writing challenge things yet, but I do know that a portal through which one must pass before doing serious writing is to write every day.  Heck, I've got so many notepads filled with ideas, observations, and passing thoughts, that I could easily copy stuff out of them, and have enough for a couple of years' daily entries, with never another creative juicing needed.  But I don't want to do that.  I want to chronicle the journey of one (delicately now) middle-aged woman bringing to reality a project she's been talking about for fifteen years.  It hasn't been all talk - the text of  The Color of Your Thumb Has Nothing To Do With It, as it will appear, will be the fourth draft, for most of it - but it is the actualization, the laying it out for other people to see, that involves steps never taken before, steps away from the comfortable confines of my own private gardens.  But here's the thing - I AM DOING IT. And that is filling me with the most wonderful excitement.

  Let us always keep in mind the words of the Doodah Man:"You're hand ain't worth a dime, if you don't lay your cards on the line."  (Remind me to tell you about the Doodah Man sometime).  And remember, green thumbs aren't green, they're just dirty.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

So this is truly my inaugural post.  It kind of looks like I'm inviting people to my home, when the only thing there is the foundation and framing for one wall.  But it's happening, darlings, it's happening.  You'll be able to watch as it grows and develops.  Anyone who has any suggestions based on their own experience with blogging, please toss 'em at me.

I know you've all been on pins-and-needles, tenterhooks, and the edges of your seats waiting for the appearance of my videos on youtube, as I have promised.  Well,   yesterday we arrived at a major paradigm shift: instead of  posting videos in 5 or 10 minute segments, with accompanying text printed on my blog, we are going to put up a 5minute-or-so condensed version of the first chapter, which is on watering,  with an equally condensed text on the blog.  Then, there will be a link to short "trailers" for each of the videos, which are each 10 - 15 minutes long.  The actual videos will be available for download at a fee; I do believe this is  becoming an ecourse!  Likewise, the text of Secrets of the Green Thumb will also be available for download.                  

The tasks for this week, then, are to put together the short-course video, and the trailers, and to work on building my blogsite.   Not to mention taking care of the most beautiful granddaughter in the world, the husband, the cats, the house, various and sundry plantcare tasks, at least a couple of the nearly-infinite jobs waiting to be done in my (it is to laugh at the term) garden...and,oh yes, the self, too.

Plus, I need to purchase a few small plants - begonias and ferns - to see if the cats will eat them, and get the mandavilla plant I've been promising myself all summer to put in front of the frontporch, and I really need to get a new camera; I killed my last one the night Lydia was born, when it was 5a.m., and she had finally arrived but I was also falling asleep so I got a coke because the only coffee available was seriously nasty and I put it into my bag to go get a breath of fresh air but the top was not screwed on tight and finally I felt wet stuff dripping on my foot from the bottom of my bag, but it was curtains for my camera.  Sigh.

And that's the way the time-and-money goes, n'est pas?  (French things keep popping into my head cause I'm reading The Long Run by Daniel Keys Moran.)  See 'ya soon, and remember, "Green thumbs aren't green, they're dirty."