Self-Directed Gardening Education

Reader Contribution by Cindy Conner

I just returned from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Topeka, Kansas. I love those Fairs. It is as if the MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine opened up and all the people and products popped right out to meet you. The presenters are authors of books and MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine articles in addition to other experts. MOTHER EARTH NEWS has a bookstore there and the fair-goers stocked up on lots of books to take home. They were able to hear many of the authors speak and the bookstore gave them the opportunity to look at the books to make sure it was something useful to them. These people are taking an active part in broadening their education in the areas that interest them and learning from people who are actively involved.

I was a speaker at the fair and I also casually connected with people individually throughout the weekend. Besides those activities, I valued the time I could spend talking with the publishers and authors. Where else could I do that with such a variety of people? The last morning was spent in conversation with three authors over breakfast. We had afternoon flights, so we had time to linger at the table with tales and tips of writing and launching a book.

I have been gardening since 1974 and have been learning and doing new things in the garden ever since. There is never the perfect garden plan and I am always making adjustments as I add or subtract crops or varieties. The photo in this book was taken when I was writing Grow a Sustainable Diet, but the scene is the same whether I am writing a book (Seed Libraries will be out in early February 2015) or working on my garden plan. I gather a lot of information, much of it from books, and glean what I need—usually with my sources spread out everywhere. My friends are the same way. Often when we are discussing something, one of us will offer an author’s take on the subject and we will add it to the conversation. We search out information we want to know.

When using information found on the Internet, it is not always easy to know the source. However, besides my blog, Homeplace Earth, there is some great stuff out there. The Cooperative Extension Service has their bulletins online. I remember when we would have to go to the Extension office and find the print copies of them in a closet or request they be sent to us—and that wasn’t so very long ago. I’ve just finished writing Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People and was happy to list the online source for organic seed production manuals, among other things, in the Resource section.

Whether you have wondered which squash has the best defense against squash bugs, which corn is the best to grow for cornmeal in your region, or how to make and use a coldframe, take some time to learn more about these things. Read books (or use videos if you aren’t a book person) and take notes. Write up your notes for your garden notebook so you will have that information at hand. Be alert to learning opportunities in your area that will broaden your gardening knowledge. There may be programs offered that you hadn’t considered until now, but would be what you need to make your garden better. Besides the information, the people you will meet will open your life to others with the same interests. It is always fun to make new friends and learn something new.

Learn more about Cindy Conner and what she’s up to at her blog, Homeplace Earth.

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