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In this episode, Joe shares his insights into the many virtues of seed catalogs. They’re all showing up in your mailbox now, so what to do with them? Next, Joe interviews Susan Harris of the wildly popular gardening blog, Garden Rant to find out what makes this blog such a hit with so many devoted fans.
Well, the holidays are behind us now and it’s time to think about gardening again. No doubt, your mailbox has been flooded recently with the latest seed catalogs. Today we talk about some of the many virtues of those catalogs and why buying from them can be good for you, and your garden.
Next, if you spend anytime online, chances are you’ve read a garden blog or two. Today, we’ll interview Susan Harris. She’s one of the four contributors to the wildly popular blog, Garden Rant. With daily posts, and no fear of telling it like it is, Garden Rant is a must-read for thousands of fans every day.
If you have a question or comment, contact us anytime! Our phone line is always open. The number is 206.337.0375 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org…
Seed Catalogs Offer More than just a Winter Diversion
I am always amazed (and thankful) by how consistent the seed companies are in sending their catalogs out at just the right time. Like clockwork, they all show up during that week between Christmas and New Years. Not only are these works of art a good diversion for our minds, it’s the perfect time to plan our spring and summer gardens.
Now once you get beyond the entertainment value of the alluring photographs and beautiful artwork, there really is plenty of useful information for beginners and experts alike. And with all the new interest in growing your own food, as I suspected, this round of incoming catalogs places a large emphasis on useful information and great seed choices for the home vegetable garden.
So here’s my list of reasons why I like seed catalogs so much:
Practical advice: If you’re starting a garden for the first time, catalogs can be a great source of information for what seeds to choose for proven performance and easy-to-grow varieties. Although you may not get the results exactly as they appear in the pictures, trust the suggestions offered for a successful growing season.
New varieties: If you’re a seasoned gardener or a veteran catalog shopper, there’s a good chance you’re looking for the newest varieties. Catalog companies often showcase their latest additions either on the cover or in prominent locations within the pages. Seed sellers and gardeners alike are always on the lookout for something new, such as plants that exhibit a more compact form. Other high-demand introductions include flowers with improved colors or vegetables that exhibit superior flavor, growth habit, hardiness or greater pest and disease resistance. You get the idea but you won’t find that kind of information on the rack at your garden center.
Better selection: Catalogs offer vastly superior selections of seed varieties from which to choose. Although I shop and purchase as much as possible from local garden centers and nurseries, they usually stock only the most popular choices for their growing region. That’s understandable since shelf space is finite and there’s only so much of it that can be devoted to selling seeds. Consequently, fewer choices are available when shopping in person.
In contrast, catalog seed companies distinguish themselves partly by offering what you can’t get locally. Park Seed Company and Burpee are two of the best known for their wide variety.
Specialty seeds: Other companies have carved out a special niche rather than attempting to offer it all. They may focus on a narrow category such as tomatoes, herbs or succulents. Other companies offer only certified organic seeds such as Seeds of Change while others may offer only heirlooms. The best know company for this is Seed Savers Exchange.
Territorial Seed Company is another of my favorites. In addition to offering quality seeds, they, manage about 125 acres of certified organic farmland for researching new products and growing their own seed for sale to the public.
Convenience: Catalogs (and their websites) offer the most convenient way to shop. There’s been a great debate going on between which method do gardeners prefer: shopping from catalogs or strictly online. It seems that in many cases, it’s not an either or. People like having the physical catalog but enjoy the convenience of online ordering.
Expert Advice: Quality catalog companies have knowledgeable staff that can answer your questions and provide advice. Many seeds that are available for sale have been trialed in their test gardens for several seasons before being offered. They speak from personal experience and keep detailed information.
As much as I enjoy the catalog experience, there are some caveats that you should know about to make your experience the best it can be. Next week I’ll cover a few of the most common mistakes and provide some tips on how to shop wisely. In the mean time, gather up those catalogs, get acquainted and dream about your best garden yet.
Check out this article plus the companion article, The Do’s and Don’ts of Buying from Seed Catalogs.
Interview with Susan Harris of Garden Rant & Sustainable Gardening Blog
Well, just in case you don’t know what a blog is, think of it as an online journal, by one or more authors, with new entries to it on a regular or semi-regular basis and where readers are often encouraged to post comments. For any subject you can name, there are likely hundreds of blogs on it, especially for popular subjects such as gardening. In a category where new blogs pop up faster than weeds, one gardening blog stands out like a giant redwood in a forest full of scrub pines.
Garden Rant is the team blog of four contributors: Elizabeth Licata, Michele Owens, Amy Stewart and Susan Harris. Today we talk to Susan about Garden Rant, blogging and what it takes to stand out from all the others. She’s a garden coach, writes for the DC Urban Gardener website and News Blog, posts weekly articles on Organic Gardener and manages her own project: Sustainable Gardening Blog.com and website, sustainable-gardening.com
Interview with Susan (not transcribed)
This show was produced by The joe gardener Media Network. You can access the show notes from this episode as well as any previous shows on our website here. You can also order a personally inscribed copy of my latest book, The Green Gardener’s Guide. And don’t forget to check out my blog; Compost Confidential.
If you have a comment, call us anytime. That number is 206.337.0375 or send us an email to email@example.com.
Until next time consider this from Orson Scott Card
Unemployment is capitalism’s way of getting you to plant a garden. ~
Thanks for listening! This is Joe Lamp’l and I’ll see you back here next week for more Growing a Greener World.
(Be sure to catch bonus blooper after close…)
Thanks for the explication Joe. It did indeed give me a better understanding of your measurement techniques. And I agree completely with you about Garden Rant’s blog being extremely popular.
TC, I agree with you completely about the politeness of a reply even every once in a while. I contend that I’m as busy as anyone you can name, but I still subscribe to the golden rules of saying please and thank you. Sure, I find it a bit overwhelming at times to try and keep up, but as you said, it just doesn’t take very long to post a thank you for someone that takes the time to comment.
Regarding “what makes a successful blog”, that answer will certainly vary from one person to the next. As I used it here, I was referring to their rapid rise in popularity (40,000 reads per month in only 2 1/2 years in existence. They have a diverse group of readers, attracting professional acedemics in horticulture, magazine and book editors, avid gardeners & beginners. Their guest post are by some very respected people in the field and they are frequently approached by potential sponsorship opportunities.
So, I guess I measured their success in the most basic way. But for the purposes of this discussion, that’s what I wanted to find out more about. You and I and many others have great blogs but they don’t attract nearly the number of readers as Rant. I just wanted to see if we could get to some of the reasons for their “popularity”. Hope that helps.
And Thanks for taking the time to comment!
What constitutes a “successful” blog? Success at what in particular? Having lots of comments? I see a type of click among bloggers, not sure if it’s good or bad. I’ve commented on GR numerous times, not because I expect anyone from GR to visit my blog and leave a comment, but just because I felt prompted to comment about what was posted. I’ve yet to have any of the four “ranters” comment on one of my posts, again, not that I expect it, but it’d be right courteous of one of them to do so. I’ve scolded Felder Rushing numerous times for just this reason. He says he’s just too busy and doesn’t have time, or that there’s just too many others he’d have to comment on if he were to comment on mine. C’mon Felder! and others who say they don’t have time; how long does it take to type “thanks for the good words,” or “interesting post,” or some other short greeting?
Now, I’ll get down off this soap box and open up my latest catalog!