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Do you have the ‘right stuff’?

CANFIELD — We have all heard the saying: “He (she) really has a green thumb.”

There are several versions regarding the origin of that phrase. The most popular one indicates that those who held potted plants got green algae on their hands, thus the phrase. Hum? Dispelling that notion, let’s dig in and give some thought to what it takes to be a good or successful gardener.

I did some searching on the internet, going to the usually reliable and factual websites, .gov, .org, and university extensions across the United States. I came up with almost no information about the characteristics of a good gardener. So, I started my own list based on my ideas and information gleaned from years of gardening adventures.

I included observations of my fellow master gardener volunteers and other gardeners from the Holborn Herb Growers Guild, as well as other garden-related groups here in the Mahoning Valley.

Gardeners are amazing individuals. We possess some outstanding human qualities. Gardeners are special, well-rounded individuals. We are not born, though many are part of a gardening tradition based on family or community. Families pass down gardening skills. Communities share their gardening skills with others.

With all of this, I developed a list of phrases and adjectives attributed to successful gardeners. Gardeners have a love for being outdoors, an appreciation of the wonders nature continues to offer.

They have curiosity, creativity, patience, expectations, caring, passion, sharing, teaching others, planning and acceptance of failure. Their ability to learn from failures, dedication, adaptability, being observant, willingness to learn, management skills and embracing change are second to none.

Gardeners have a general knowledge of garden tools, garden maintenance, communication skills and the ability to garden — including adapting things for themselves and others.

They have a continuing, ongoing thirst for more knowledge of plants, environmental conditions, soil, sunlight requirements, water, fertilizers, pesticide use information and more.

Garden terms, garden zones, composting, seeds, saving seeds, keeping records, pruning and even a little chemistry are broad topics they know. They use integrated pest management to deal with weeds and pests. They like sharing scientific information and dispelling garden myths.

Overall, they appreciate aesthetics, are generous, community-oriented, and because they garden, they benefit from a sense of pride in accomplishments when they see a beautiful flower or pick the fruits of their labor.

Gardeners: Know you are a very special people. Do whatever you can to pass characteristics and knowledge on to our children and grandchildren, and your community. Everyone deserves

a chance to explore gardening. It can change lives.

McKinley is an Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Mahoning County.

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