For Sustainable Living, Do You Need A Green Thumb?

Since embracing the idea of a sustainable lifestyle, one very important question springs to mind if you plan to grow your own herbs. For sustainable living, do you need to possess a green thumb? I believe it is important to do something, anything, to just make a small start to this new way of living. What better way to start this, than with the satisfying feeling of growing your own food, or in this case, a herb garden as a beginning point? Just yummy when you add them to your food and don’t forget they have medicinal qualities too, if you have the right herbs.

Are You A Green Thumb, Brown Thumb or Black Thumb?

for sustainable living, do you need a green thumb, sustainable living,

Green Thumbs always seem to have success

For the sake of clarity, let me tell you what I mean by green thumb, brown thumb and black thumb.

A green thumb is someone who can grow plants without even trying very hard. They always remember to water them, they plant them in just the right spots and choose the right fertilisers.

A brown thumb is someone who doesn’t always remember to water the plants, takes pot luck at planting them wherever they may grow and can usually coax some life into a plant. Some live and some die.

A black thumb is someone who no matter what they do, they never seem to be able to grow plants. They NEVER remember to water them, or if they do, they over-water them, they put too much fertiliser in or none at all, and they plant the seeds or seedlings in the exact place they shouldn’t be, either in too much sun or not enough.


Lock Me Up, I’m A Danger To Plants Apparently


In light of this, I realised that one of the first things that I need to look into is my current capability in terms of growing my own food. Yep, you guessed it! I’m a black thumb. Not a green thumb nor even a brown thumb. A Black thumb.

In other words I spell doom, gloom and death for plants. Ask anyone who knows me and they will laugh and tell you I am telling the truth here. My friend has even had to rescue indoor plants of mine, and you can’t do much wrong with them can you? Actually I wouldn’t really know this because anything to do with greenery is just not my forte’. My Mum is the gardener in the family.


My Herb Garden Bites The Dust

For-Sustainable-Living-do-you-need a-green-thumb, For Sustainable Living, Toothache plant

I read somewhere that you can chew the leaves of this plant for toothache relief.

Let me give you an example. While I was doing my Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy degree, I studied the subject of Herbal Medicine Botany. I loved it. I couldn’t wait to start growing my herb garden so that when it came to learning how to use the herbs for medicinal purposes, I would have them on hand ready to go.

I bought a few different types of herbs. From memory, I brought home Rosemary, Peppermint, Lavender, Calendula, Comfrey, Basil, Echinacea and something called the Toothache Plant. I was fascinated by the fact that mother nature has provided us with such a wonderful plethora of healing agents right outside our doors.


The Grim Reaper Of The Plant Kingdom Strikes Again


Naturally I looked after them well and they thrived. NOT!!! I don’t know what happened, but they died. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. Dead, gone, dusted. Not one single one was saved. I can only put it down to the fact that my thumb is definitely a black one, with a grim reaper attached just to be sure the poor plants didn’t survive. I was so disappointed.

My subject told me all the great qualities of these plants, hinted at growing them so that you can make your own tinctures, ointments and teas, but sadly it didn’t tell me how to keep them alive. I definitely need to do my homework once I decide to start growing herbs again. My daughter is growing a lovely Heirloom Rosemary plant and an Heirloom Coriander also, and it is growing really well. I had better not get too close then hadn’t I?

What Did I Do Wrong?

Really, what did I do wrong? Some say I didn’t water them, although I’m sure I did on occasion. It is highly possible I watered them at the wrong time of day also. I have heard that when you water plants, if you live in a hot climate like I do, it is best to water them in the evening so they don’t get burned in the sunlight after watering them. This is a definite possibility because they were in the sun a lot. I also think I may have placed them in the wrong position. I had them on my front porch where they were exposed to full sunlight for a large portion of the day and I’m wondering if this was the reason they did not survive, they were in the sun when they were watered too getting back to the other thought of not watering them until the evening. Needless to say, I really need to do more research on growing herbs, before I can even attempt to go to the next level and grow food in terms of vegetables and fruit.


Not A Green Thumb Either?


Gardening Tools of the Trade

So in answer to my title question, for sustainable living, do you need to have a green thumb? Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt. But for someone like me, having the right tools and a good source of information wouldn’t go astray and would make the impossible seem possible. I’m hoping that this website will allow me to conduct my own research and then provide some information on what I have learned on starting a herb garden.


What I Need Are Some Resources To Guide Me


I intend also to add some resources here to you to help you grow your herbs, and be on your way to a sustainable lifestyle. I think a section that covers the medicinal uses of these fantastic plants would be prudent to my efforts to educate you and to help you become more self sufficient. After all, we may not always be able to have access to supermarkets and doctors, especially if we keep destroying this beautiful, and one of a kind, planet.


Thank you for reading and please stay tuned for the next installment of how not to kill your plants.


Comments are most welcome so please add to this discussion. Do you have any funny stories yourself about killing plants?




Photo of Toothache plant courtesy of the Mudbrick Cottage Herb Garden at



10 thoughts on “For Sustainable Living, Do You Need A Green Thumb?

  1. Hi Ange,

    Very nice article, I really enjoyed reading it!
    I don’t know a lot about plants and garden, but I love it and I tried to grow my own plants in my garden, The problem is I have put Sheba near other plants and I did not know that Sheba can poison them. So you can imagine what happen:) All my plants were gone, I had to start all over again and this time I put my other plants far from Sheba . I know I should have asked , but Now I know!

    Thank you for this awesome blog

    • Hi Daniella. Thank you for your comment. And do you know something? That makes two of us. I had no idea about Sheba either. You have taught me something, LOL. But that is why I am here too, I want to learn more about gardening and living sustainably. We have to start somewhere don’t we? How are your plants doing now that you have placed the Sheba far away from them? I was wondering if you have a website where I can pay a visit to

  2. Hi there my friend,

    I attended a Ted Ex talk in Chiang Mai, Thailand. And befriended this guy (see video link)

    life is easy, life is so easy when you really get it, really understand what this guy is talking about.

    This truly is sustainable living.

    YT search “ted ex talk chiang mai” and look for Jon Jandai video

    • Hi Derek,

      Thank you so much for leaving your comment on my site. I have never heard of or seen Jon Jandai speak before so I looked him up. I loved hearing how he lives his minimalist lifestyle. He certainly seems to have found happiness. I wonder whether in our society, ruled by all our laws and governments would act if everyone decided to break away from the norm and live off the grid like this. Big money loss for them so I can’t imagine there would be many happy government officials. It certainly is food for thought for other people in learning what else they can do to live a life of sustainability. I love Jon Jandai’s attitude, ‘work for 2 months, free time for the other 10 months of the year”. Thank you for sharing.


  3. Ange, your post makes me laugh. I so remember being a card-carrying black thumb. Now, after many years of effort, I’ve graduated to brown-thumbness. That thumb’s even showing signs of greening up.

    (The Light of My Life is a confirmed green-thumber and that was the best strategy I ever found for having green-and-growing plants in my life.)

    I, too, started with growing herbs. I told myself, hey, most of them are weeds anyhow. They’re strong. They’re tough. At least SOME of the poor things will survive me. I was right.

    I also found that if I turned my plants into pets, named them and even talked to them, they put up with me better. (Yeah, yeah…really woo-woo. Who cares? It works!)

    • Hi Netta,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. I hadn’t thought of finding a better half with a green thumb. I must put that down on my ‘to do’ list, lol. I’m so glad you have graduated to a brown-thumb-soon-to-be-green. I really love the idea of naming the plants and turning them into pets, not woo-woo at all, especially if it works, I’ll try anything. I think I may even Reiki the seeds. Thank you for adding such quirky humor and fun energy to the great advice you have given here.

      PS Have you started growing any veggies now that the herbs have survived for you?

      Warm Regards


      • With a green thumber in my life, the best part is I don’t HAVE to grow salad fixings, which to my mind are the hardest of the hard to keep from bolting up faster than thought.

        I can do the simple stuff like cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes. I’ve got chayote squash running wild over one big old compost heap. Bananas and figs do okay with me as well. I’ve got a faithful patch of ‘olena (turmeric) as well as one volunteer mandarin orange tree and one achiote (lipstick) tree and a bay leaf tree. My kukui nut tree’s awesome.

        I’ve also got taro plants that I grow for the leaves only.

        • Hi Netta,
          Sorry I took a day or two to respond. I was away from my website. Congratulations. That sounds like a great variety of food. At least you get salad too, by default, ha ha. I wish I could say the same. We are in an area that I’m sure has had a lot of pest control used all over the suburb, so we are having to start from scratch and use raised beds and buy organic soil. Even so, I’m not sure whether I will be able to keep everything organic due to the closeness of the neighbours. I’m so new to this that nothing has grown in one of the beds. We used heirloom seeds too, so maybe there is a trick to growing them. It’s all a learning curve isn’t it? I think I will start smaller, with pots, and work up from there.
          Warm Wishes,

  4. We are in the unenviable position of having such poor quality earth where we live, that we would be better off producing pots rather than plants. Our clay soil is so heavy, it’s a good way to work out if you try to dig it for more than 5 minutes!
    Consequently, we are having much difficulty getting any produce from it and decided to put in raised beds to overcome the problem.
    Trouble is, the cost of the beds and the soil to go in them will take quite a time to recoup. Even so, there’s nothing like growing your own food, especially with all the hype about glyphosate and the other dangerous chemicals that the agricultural fraternity are using in these modern times.
    We will carry on regardless and enjoy what food we manage to grow and despite your lack of a green thumb, I’m sure you will do the same! I found your post very entertaining. PS, just going outside to see if any green beans are showing yet!

    • Hi Ches,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my article. I am glad it was entertaining. Did you find any green beans yet? My daughter has grown an amazing Rosemary bush from Heirloom seeds using a raised bed, organic soil, which she sourced from a local company, and some help from her friend. It has literally taken over the raised bed it has become so large. And the smell is divine. We decided raised beds would probably better because we live in a suburb and have no idea what chemicals have already been used on our property by the previous tenants. We are trying to keep everything as organic as we can, but if does run into an expensive venture. I am looking at using pots myself to grow fruit trees, but not quite sure how well they will grow. Best of luck with growing your food and I hope that it will slowly increase for you. I think we all have to start somewhere. 

      Warm Wishes


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