I often joke with my better half that she has a blue thumb while I have a green one. The idiom of “green thumb” is a reasonably well known one. Its opposite in sense – ‘black thumb’ – isn’t a strange term either. But what is this blue thumb, you are obviously wondering.
I hail from a lineage of farmers. To quote a Schwarzenegger character, dad was a farmer, uncles were farmers, mom was a farmer’s wife, etc. Though I left the family occupation in my late teens, the affinity for growing things in the pasture of Mother Nature is something you never lose. Even when you are confined to a cell in the urban beehive, built out of the wax of industrialization. The thumb stays green even when its primary use is to hit the spacebar on a keyboard.
But what about someone who had tried to correct the kindergarten teacher that cow is, in fact, a plastic bag that contains milk? Someone who carries the legacy of being in service, be it of the king, the king emperor, or the uncrowned kings of today? The thumb is obviously blue from the ink bottle and steel pen that have been the tools of the trade for quite a while now. Hence the term Blue Thumb. The calling card of it? Total indifference to the little plants that try to make a living in the confined spaces.
We had spent close to six years in the urban jungle of Silicon Valley, confined to a small apartment. Having some space to grow things was not something I had in my mind when I looked around for a living space. But the magic of the green thumb led me to a ground floor unit that had almost six square foot of open yard, out from the shade of the balcony above. Still, it didn’t occur to me what a boon I had, because of being busy with the new job, and soon after, a new kid. But Mother Nature was not going to leave me like that. Like the obstinate mother who pushes the kids to eat their vegetables, she enticed me with a single sprout of pear tomato in the space. It had grown to a good size, and put out the young before we noticed it. I felt like those early explorers who stepped on a golden nugget around the same area centuries ago.
I once again became a farmer. To be precise, what could be called a “balcony farmer”. The pear tomato gave pounds of sweet yellow fruit that left those bland, artificially ripened, supermarket tomatoes literally in the dust. Even the blue thumbed of the family got tempted with the taste.
When we moved back to India, we got a little more than the six square feet of growing space we had in the apartment. Rather than farming on the window sills and balconies, we had the luxury of being able to place grow bags on the terrace. We were lucky. But there are hundreds of people, even in India, who are restricted to the tiny spaces they can barely manage to find in their congested living spaces.
It will be my endeavor at housedelic to share my experience and thoughts about having a green thumb. Better still, it is more about developing a green thumb if you don’t think you have one!
A kind contribution from Dileep Kumar for Housedelic.