Gardeners learn and improve their gardens not just through personal experience, but also through the shared experiences of other gardeners. Sometimes we learn from these gardeners through their books, sometimes through workshops or formal presentations, sometimes through in-person conversation or over the phone, and sometimes over the internet.
One of my favorite gardeners to discuss gardening with is my Louisiana sister. In the past week, we have confirmed that our favorite bush-type green bean for flavor, reliability, and abundant productivity is ‘Provider’. We also agree that green beans from the supermarket, along with most other commercially-grown veggies, are pretty bland in terms of flavor, even when they are beautiful to behold.
Knowing that I am not alone in finding that ‘Provider’ produces an abundance of tasty beans here in the Southeastern US boosts my confidence in recommending the variety to other gardeners in the region.
I have more gardening friends, too, with whom to share successes, failures, and puzzlements. These gardeners share similar kinds of stories with me. We all learn, as a result, about varieties that do well and varieties that don’t. We also share different gardening strategies and methods, opinions on flavor, and tips on preparation in the kitchen.
Without this community of gardeners, my own gardening successes would have piled up more slowly.
Some gardeners, though, I have met by chance, just once or twice, but that can be enough. One gardener that I met by a seed rack at a garden center one spring convinced me to try yellow tomatoes. He claimed that they were the sweetest, best tasting of all tomatoes. He even saved seeds each year for his favorite. Turns out that I agree, after growing some, that yellow tomatoes are extra sweet.
Other gardeners I have met by seed racks are looking for particular herbs or flowers, and their enthusiasm also influences my choices of what to plant in my garden.
This spring, I have been lucky to have many existing gardening friends to talk with — at a distance — about our gardens. I hope that other gardeners have similar good fortune. However, there have been no opportunities, for most of us, to meet more gardeners, from whom we can learn, just randomly at the seed racks in garden centers.
If you are looking for more gardeners to learn from, and are ok with doing that online, I know some you might want to check in on. I am a participant in a “phone group” of garden writers, and one or more of their websites might hold the information or inspiration you need.
We are a little group, and all are members of Garden Communicators International (used to be called Garden Writers Association). We have had monthly phone meetings for a couple of years.
We don’t talk a whole lot about gardening, since we are focused on the technical parts of having garden-related websites, but the love for plants and gardening shines through each person’s contribution to the group. These are our most-frequent-participants and their websites:
Kathy, our coordinator, writes the Washington Gardener Magazine for the Washington DC area. Her website includes specific details for the DC area, such as local events, but much of the gardening information is also good for a wider area (all the way to metro Atlanta!).
Keri writes the Miss Smarty Plants site. Keri was living and writing in Florida, but recently moved back north to a farm in Iowa where she writes about edibles, landscapes, growing hops, and her chickens.
Duane’s site is The Geriatric Gardener. He writes from experience! His perspective is helpful for younger gardeners, too, since many of us can benefit from simplifying our gardening tasks in the ways he describes.
Gerald is an artist – painter, photographer, gardener. If you are longing for beauty, visit his site. You will be inspired!
Marianne writes the site Small Town Gardenerabout her mid-Atlantic (near Washington, DC) garden and farm, the ducks and chickens and bees, and she hosts a mini-blog for her dog Mungo. If you want to read some lovely garden writing, visit her site.
Gail co-writes a blog called No Farm Needed with her daughter. Topics of the blog range from pressed flower crafts, to starting seeds indoors, to making “shrubs” (vinegar-based beverage/tonic) and more.
That is the list from my phone group. You can also, of course, visit the linked sites in the sidebar of my own website.
I hope that you all are keeping safe and well and enjoying your gardens!