Even though I'm a longtime dedicated urban gardener, I must confess to not being a regular subscriber to most of the genre's many magazines.
While they supply brilliant eye candy, the truth is I'd rather spend my wee bit of free time digging in the dirt rather than reading about it.
I do read about gardening online when I have a problem or a specific question, and often find myself on the wonderfully informative Organic Gardening Web site. So when the magazine paired with my favorite organic yogurt company (Stonyfield Farm) earlier this year and offered a free subscription to those willing to consume the required amount of yogurt and send in the foil seals inside the container, I figured what the heck. I am my father's daughter and am loath to pass up anything free, so now I'm a subscriber.
The arrival of my first issue was unintentionally well-timed. It's been unusually cool and rainy and I've been unable to get outside as much as I'd like to weed and prepare the beds for the annual herbs and flowers I plant to go alongside the perennials. And the tomatoes: I try a new heirloom variety every year. Last year it was a Russian variety in honor of my heritage.
So instead of weeding, I've been reading. And reading. And reading.
In fact, I read every single story in OG and feel like I've learned something from each and every one. You don't have to be a big gardener to appreciate the article on salads. I probably won't attempt the painstaking schedule they outline to keep you in lettuce for the entire spring, summer and fall, but it makes me appreciate what I'll be receiving in my box of produce from the organic farm where I have a membership. And now I even know the names and characteristics of the many varieties.
My "anything free" gene enjoyed the piece "Free Lunch," which details the many ways you can feed your garden for free with things like coffee grounds, eggshells, wood ash and bunny poop. I've used many of the suggested items but didn't exactly know what they were supplying to my garden. Now I know.
The "Understanding Peonies" article was fascinating. I inherited four of the giant bloomed flowers when I moved to my current house and didn't know much about them, other than they made my gay best friend swoon. He's got a seriously sun-deprived yard so he's out of luck with growing them himself, poor guy. Thanks to this article, I finally know how and when to divide them and why I should be doing so (peonies don't like to be crowded, and neither does my terminally single friend.)
Not every article is about growing things. This issue included an informative and well-researched piece on dairy products. The cleverly titled "Milk Shake-Up" discusses the differences among traditional, organic and raw as well as the labeling battles of manufacturers.
There's also a great back-of-book piece about garden gnomes and their history. I had a flashback to the gnome we presented to my law school contracts professor after he proclaimed he hated them. He then brought it to every class before we "kidnapped" it and took pictures of it engaging in various illicit activities. Too bad we didn't know about The Garden Gnome Liberation Front of France (mentioned in the article); we could have blamed it on them.
I love the News section, which includes a calendar and short take-outs on everything from plant puberty to stretching exercises designed for gardeners.
Refreshingly, the magazine practices what it preaches. Besides the longtime Rodale test organic gardens, the magazine has partnered with Aveeno and Nature's Path for a Water Works project to raise awareness about water conservation and to provide the means of doing so to community gardens nationwide. Each of the 15 gardens picked receives a rainwater-harvesting system to sustain its plot.
The magazine also offers a non-print, email-only subscription option for those who don't want to receive the paper version. Me, I'll keep getting the old-fashioned version because I'm online way too much already for my tired old eyes. And this way I can pass the articles along to friends and family who will find them useful. I already know who is getting the peony and the gnome articles from this month.
Published by: Rodale Inc.
Frequency: 6 times per year