Friends and readers have questions: You’re always preaching patience this time of year. Wait until the last frost, wait until the soil is workable, don’t get into the garden too soon. That’s all well and good. But what do we do in the meantime?
Well, we’ve always counseled planning and dreaming. Plan your coming garden and landscape. Dream of what your yard, your vegetable patch will look like in just a few months. To facilitate that planning and stimulate that dreaming? Read.
Garden books and magazines have always been great sources of knowledge and inspiration and continue to be. While much of the publishing world is in a confused shamble, garden books continue to do well. But the last 15 and more years have seen the rise of another great source of knowledge and inspiration: the gardening blog.
Gardening blogs and websites have introduced a world of experience and regional diversity to the growing community. More importantly, they often bring a sense of personal perspective and experience to the practice. Not all gardeners grow for the same reasons and conditions. Gardening blogs often get down and dirty about the particular problems they face, the kind of results they achieve, and the individual satisfactions that come to them. Gardening books, valuable as they are, are usually skewered towards the general audience. Blogs can fine-tune their focus in one post, and take the wider view in another.
The blogs are so numerous, they even have their own convention.
The other great thing about gardening blogs is how readable many of them are. You expect to get something when you read a gardening post, but you don’t always expect it to be the kinds of things you get when reading good and solid writing: knowledge, a personal story wonderfully told, a sense of the writer’s identity. And then… pictures!
So what gardening blogs have we been looking at lately? Ones that are smart and filled with enthusiasm, ones that show what people in other parts of the country (and the world!) are doing, ones that both validate our natural approach to growing and shake up our thinking on how to do it. Here are some of our favorites. There are plenty more.
As our world was buried in snow, we loved seeing the progress of Angela Pratt’s tulips there in Sacremento, California. We often write of mulching with leaves. Go to Angela’s Digging Bliss blog and, speaking of tulips, look what she discovered in February when she pulled back the leaves. The photos are a big draw here (Angela is a photographer and the site has beautiful pictures of the San Francisco Botanical Garden); check out her beautiful shot of an overturned planter spilling brilliant lobelia, like liquid, into the garden. What you get at Digging Bliss is a sincere feeling of the love she has for blossoms of all sorts, and the work that goes into raising them, even when interrupted by fate that, well , go read the September 13, 2013 post and be sure to wear your helmet.
We like Gayla Trail’s work at You Grow Girl because it gives us small town gardeners a look at what its like to garden in urban spaces. Her latest post, “Turning An Eye Towards the Garden,” gave us something to identify with: trying to make a connection to your backyard patch when it’s still frozen in snow. The pictures, which go back in time showing her narrow, “bowling alley” space in all its glory last summer, really got our imagination going when we saw her boxed beds, trellises, pots and mulched walkways disappear behind the green growing goods. Gayla, a published author, also does something that fascinates us: she grows on her roof. Talk about utilizing space!
Garden Rant is one of the more popular blogs. It utilizes a number of voices from different parts of the country (and an occasional guest) to take on all sorts of topics, not all of them having to do directly with gardens. We especially loved Michele Owens post on the persistence of tomatillos (with salsa suggestions). Garden Rant is the place to go if you’re looking for the kind of post that can (easily) link the recent death of a snake-handling pastor with the Seventh International Perennial Plant Conference in Grünberg, Germany (“Perennials are perfectly divine and much easier to handle than poisonous snakes.”) There’s a variety of subjects addressed here, some snarkily, and most often terribly entertaining. Gardeners with attitude, yeah!
For sheer beauty and a sense of landscaping possibility we like Rochelle Greayer’s PITH + VIGOR. Perusing posts hear can be both soothing and exciting. Take a look at her post on building “bee walls.” They’re things of wonder with very real and practical applications.
More? We love the simplicity and sincerity of My Tiny Plot, as well as the subject matter : eating microgreens, plating covering crops and fruit trees. Her tulips there in Portland began emerging on February 4. It’s been fascinating to follow the planning going on at Skippy’s Vegetable Garden. Garden blogs can take you overseas as well as places in this country that, well, they’re not waiting for the snow to melt. Have favorites? Let us know what blogs you enjoy. And here’s hoping we’re among them. Or maybe you’re a garden blogger, too?
Eric Vinje founded Planet Natural with his father Wayne in 1991, originally running it as a grasshopper bait mail-order business out of a garage.
Eric is now retired, but is still a renowned gardener known for his expertise in composting, organic gardening and pest control, utilizing pesticide-free options, such as beneficial insects.
Eric believes when you do something good for the environment, the effects will benefit generations to come.