About a hundred years ago, when I first started gardening out here in the country in my red dirt, I subscribed to Kitchen Gardener magazine (formerly known as Kitchen Garden). Like a vegetable garden bible, I carried this magazine everywhere, and I read its bimonthly issue cover to cover. I was so entranced by one particular article that I ran with it to HH and begged him to make a garden like it for me. The design was a diamond in the middle with four triangular beds surrounding it. As those of you who regularly read RDR know, that design was later expanded.
After a few years, Taunton Press decided Kitchen Gardener would be no more, and I wept bitter tears. I kept all my back issues and consulted them regularly like scrolls. Then, one day, we had a roof leak, and guess what . . . my issues were ruined. I had to throw away three years of them.
Are you wondering why I would so want a vegetable gardening magazine when I’m a writer myself? Well, Kitchen Gardener was special. It was written for those who loved to grow vegetables, and it was extremely forward thinking. For example, there were articles on attractive deer fencing, potagers, and keeping your cold frame warm with an electric grid beneath it. They wrote about cloches, and the best use of different cultivars of garlic (hard neck and soft neck), along with vegetable garden design.
Vegetable garden design. Think about that for a moment . . . when was the last time, you read a serious article about the most attractive fencing (“Protecting the Harvest Beautifully by Stefanie Vancura); or, about the placement of fruit trees against walls (“Demystifying Espalier,” by Ron Clancy)? These people were serious about gardens which were both beautiful and fruitful, and it’s nice to have such companions again at my fingertips.
As I began working on the design for the new potager and where it is to be placed, I found I missed my magazine more and more. A couple of weeks ago, I was on ebay. No one who knows me would be surprised. I scour ebay for old, garden things. I once got an old issue of a flower gardening magazine which featured daylilies from the 1940s. Great history there.
A woman had listed one issue of Kitchen Gardener for a pittance. I decided to write and ask if she had any more issues. I discovered she is an estate liquidation specialist, and she did. Nine issues starting in 1999 and going on through much of 2000. We made a deal, and today, they appeared on my doorstep.
I’ve spent a very pleasant, half hour going over those months. Alas, the issue with my garden plan isn’t among them. However, Taunton is having a fifty percent off sale, so I went and bought those issues I don’t have. These may not contain the prize issue, but perhaps they will. In any event, I will have most of my Kitchen Gardener library back again.
You may be shaking your head and thinking how sad it is that one person’s estate is being sold off piece by piece, but I don’t mind if my children decide one day to sell many of my things, especially if they go to someone who will enjoy them as much as I. I see it as the ultimate in recycling. Being thrifty and reusing things would make my Grandma Nita proud I’m sure, and I know she’d like the reel mower I’m giving away. She used such a mower. I remember.
Last week, Frances wrote a post asking what will happen with our blogs when we’re gone, and although I didn’t yet comment, I’ve thought about it all week. Earlier MSS wrote a post about this same subject. What will happen? Will anyone care to read our work once we’re no longer able to update it this side of heaven? I don’t know the answer, but I’ve given my passwords to the Diva, and I hope, when my time comes, she’ll write a last post for me. Then, if my friends want to comment, that would be lovely. In the meantime, I hope my words help other gardeners who are trying to grow beautiful things in stubborn soil, and are a comfort to them.
I’m also comforted by the thought of some future gardener picking up the mantle where I left off and running with it after I’m gone.
Kind of like how I’m using the magazines now, and how my grandmother inspired me. Not to tie things up with a cliche, but it truly is the circle of life.