Growing a Green Thumb

Within the last year, I developed the important skill of keeping green things alive. Yep, knock on all things wood as you read this. I, Melissa, can now successfully keep plants alive. However, the journey was not easy by any means.

Melissa Nelson
Melissa Nelson

When I was a teen, my grandpa passed down a spider plant to me. It became my most prized possession as I watered it, found it the perfect sunlit home and tended to it regularly. Somehow, which I will forever say it was because this plant just plain ol' didn't like me, I killed it.

After I turned 30, feeling inspired by other friends and their magnificent greenery, I decided to take on a few spider plant babies from someone who was giving them away on Facebook Marketplace. Sure enough, I killed those too.

A couple of years later, the admin at my school encouraged us to have living plants in our classrooms. My classroom was perfect for them with one wall of huge windows that allowed the sun to shine through in all of its glory. I decided to give plants one last try before breaking up with them forever. Luckily, my friend Kira, who happens to be an admin over the Facebook group, Evansville House Plant Share, had some babies to donate to my classroom. I very nervously took my new green friends into my classroom and followed the advice Kira gave me. Not only did these plants stay alive, but they actually grew. Now, a year later, I have managed to keep those plants alive as well as add to my collection, filling my home and classroom with all things green.

Melissa Nelson
Melissa Nelson

Achievement Unlocked.

A Need for Green

So many of my plants are ones given to me by friends that I am lucky enough to have encouraged my plant journey. If you're like me and want to master the skill of keeping plants alive, but don't know anyone who can help you get started, the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library has the perfect resource for you.

Currently, McCollough Library hosts a plant swap where patrons can take home their very own plant baby. According to Audra Dyer, McCollough's Teen Librarian who heads the program, the swap started last year after a former employee saw a need in the community.

"She loved plants herself and saw a need in the community. Some plants can be very expensive! This program allows beginners to get started with house plants and gardening and to experiment at low stakes," Audra said.

After the success of the first year, she decided to host the swap again with many of the cuttings donated by a patron who took plants during last year's program. Since the plant swap started again in late March, there have been over 150 participants and at least 250 plants brought in. Audra said not only have patrons become excited to engage in the swap, but it has also connected the library to local gardens and stores within the community. Her favorite part, however, is seeing the younger patrons get involved and learn about plants.

"Kids get very excited to come in and check on the plants. We keep a couple of fresh cuttings and a few things in water at all times so we can talk about the life cycle of plants and how they grow with kids who are curious. We have a few homeschool families who have integrated the swap into their science curriculum. One family made seed bombs with homemade paper to trade and share with staff. The other family has always been big into kitchen gardening. They have been trading their outdoor plants for their first houseplants throughout the year. The kids have named all of the plants they take home and they come in and tell us how they are doing."

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Same Swap, Different Location

With the McCollough branch preparing for an exciting renovation this fall, they will be temporarily relocating to Washington Square Mall. But don't worry! Patrons can continue to enjoy their plant swap until the end of June, until it moves to its new home at the Red Bank branch on the west side. Once the renovation is complete, McCollough hopes to take the swap back over next year.

So, stop thinking about it and bring home your very first plant. You may even surprise yourself as I did!

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