Saturday, 11 September 2010

My favourite gardening magazines

My number one favourite magazine (the only one to which I have a susbscription) is The Kitchen Garden (aka TKG) I am a "Founder Member" of this magazine, having bought it regularly since Issue No.1. Other magazines I buy from the newsagent as and when I feel like it, but I don't want to miss a single issue of TKG.

I find this magazine a constant source of inspiration. It has a good mix of articles. The ones covering the details of how to grow a particular vegetable or fruit are the the most useful to the kitchen gardener, but the ones featuring the gardens of big houses and stately homes are the most fascinating. I also enjoy the simple but effective recipes that give you ideas of how to cook or preserve whatever is in season.

The recently-added section called "You and Your Plot", in which readers' own plots / gardens /allotments are featured, is what got me hooked on blogging -- in a roundabout way. TKG ran a photo competition accompanied by a questionnaire to stimulate interest in the You and Your Plot concept, and I entered. I was the first reader whose plot was featured in this way in the Magazine. This was both a surprise and a delight to me.

Somewhat conveniently, at this very moment my wife Jane expressed a wish for a new (more compact) digital camera as a birthday present, so I bought one for her -- and inherited the cast-off one myself! I then started feverishly photographing every aspect of my garden. I set up a Facebook photo album called Mark's Garden in order to be able to show my pictures to family and friends. The feedback I got from this was most enthusiastic, but I felt that Facebook was a bit restrictive, and had some annoying features, so I branched out into blogging -- an area in which a fair bit of expertise already exists within our family. Jane runs a business related to entering (and winning) competitions called The Competition Grapevine and she maintains a blog to support it  whilst older daughter Emma, as well as being a professional computer programmer, is none other than the widely-acclaimed Mummy Blogger known as "Mellow Mummy", and she has a website of the same name . So with a bit of help from these two, (Thanks both of you!) I set up my own blog, which you are now reading.

So TKG gets the credit for getting me started on blogging -- Jane may live to regret her part in all this -- but I would also like to mention another fine magazine, called Grow Your Own (aka GYO)
The style of this magazine is a bit different to TKG's. It has I think more appeal for the beginner, and it focusses more on family connections, stressing the importance of handing down the expertise and enthusiasm to the next generation(s). I like this attitude; family traditions are important. Some of you will perhaps have seen pictures of our granddaughter Lara sampling my tomatoes a couple of weeks ago, so you know I'm doing my bit in this area...

Lara enjoys the Pick Your Own tomatoes on our patio
To me, GYO appears more 'vibrant' and 'contemporary', perhaps a bit more down-to-earth (not a bad thing in a gardening mag, I would say). The articles in the magazine are frequently aimed at the younger, maybe less-experienced audience, and presented in smaller 'bites'.

If it came to a choice between the two, I would opt for TKG, but that's a personal preference, and they are both without doubt extremely worthwhile and informative publications.

[I hasten to add that all my views about both TKG and GYO are personal views and impressions. Other people may see things differently!]


  1. It's really interesting to read your take on both those magazines. I suddenly became interested in growing stuff back in May this year, never having been able to keep as much as a houseplant alive before. I started reading "Grow Fruit and Veg" and as an absolute novice, it and its online forums were a fabulous resource.

    Since May I've read everything I could get my hands on about growing veg (note to self - get a life!!) and have really enjoyed my first summer dong this. I've bought the last three issues of "The Kitchen Garden" and I do indeed see the difference between the two publications, just as you say.

    However, I really like them both and expect I'll be reading them both for a very long time!

    By the way, the photo of the wee lass eating the tomato is smashing. And I love the one of her peering into one of your raised beds!

  2. Croila, it sounds as if you and I probably have a lot in common. Are you on Facebook, so that we could correspond directly?

  3. Mark, I'd love to hear from you but via our blogs is best, I reckon. :-)

    Incidentally, I showed my husband your photo on the top-right-hand side of your side, entitled "the real life plot" and said to him "THAT is what I want, PLEASE will you dig up some of the dratted grass out the back?"

    He wasn't too chuffed. I'm trying to sell the idea to him on the basis that there will be less grass from to cut, but no he likes a bit of lawn whereas I'd happily get rid of the lot and do exactly as you've done with the raised beds.

    One day maybe ..!

  4. Hi Croila; Yes, I reckon that getting rid of the "grass" (aka moss) from my garden was the best thing I ever did. It was an awful lot of effort to keep tidy, and it never looked any good. When our kids were small they needed some space to play in, but now that no longer applies - though having said that, grandchildren are coming along now, so I might have to have a re-think! Fortunately little Lara seems to be more interested in the fruit and veg than in playing games (but she loves walking around the raised beds).


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