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    Home Columns

    Writing that Gardening Column

    As gardeners turn their thoughts to planting, they often look for newspaper and magazine columns that give information about this topic. I'd never written a gardening column when an editor, several years ago, asked me to fill a void at her magazine.

    Her regular gardening columnist decided he couldn't provide the column that summer. I wrote other types of freelance articles for her so she was familiar with my style and ability to meet deadlines. She knew I wrote a cooking column for a newspaper and another column on state history for a travel publication.

    Recently an online editor wanted to include a gardening column. When she hadn't found a columnist as she neared deadline, I mentioned I'd written one for a print publication. So now I'm filling in with one.


    What Type of Gardening Column

    When considering preparing a gardening column for a publication or web site, there are a number of directions you can go.

    -> Multi-Topic
    -> Vegetable Garden
    -> Fruit
    -> Flowers
    -> Herb Gardens
    -> City or Windowsill Gardens
    -> Gardening History
    -> Victory Gardens of WWII
    -> Winter gardens
    -> Gardens special to a particular country or region


    Vegetable Garden Topics

    The editor who asked me to write the column about vegetable gardening for her print publication wanted an outline of topics I would include for the summer. This also helped me plan my research and writing schedule. Here is a sample of topics to consider for an ongoing column.

    -> Deciding what to plant in your garden
    -> Information about gardening tools
    -> When and how to plant various veggies
    -> Using natural or chemical pest control
    -> Plants that repel garden pests
    -> Harvesting the garden
    -> Preparing the garden for winter
    -> Preserving garden foods
    -> Drying vegetables and fruits

    Broader Scope For Your Columns

    When writing a gardening column, or any type of column, you'll find many of your columns can stand alone as essays or informational articles. Sometimes, once you have enough of them, twelve or more, you can compile your columns into a book.

    Below is a column I wrote for a print publication. My column was called "Rural Reflections," and it covered a variety of topics, including gardening. If your gardening columns are general ones, rather than those focusing on specifics about the topic, you could consider something like this.

    THOUGHTS OF GARDENING
    When the first seed catalogs begin arriving in the mail, even though snow still covers the ground, our thoughts turn to gardening and the season of planting. That eternal spirit of new life and green and growing things springs anew in the gardener's soul.

    This was an exciting time on the farm when I was a child. Even though the garden meant continual summer work for children and adults, planning our garden in late winter and early spring was a diversion in the evening and meant warmer weather soon would arrive.

    On the farm, catalogs made up many of our sources of shopping. They furnished us with our supplies including garden seeds, household supplies, clothing and shoes.


    Vegetables & Flowers

    From the colorful pictures in the seed catalogs, we dreamed of trying new flowers and vegetables. Although Father was a practical farmer, with thoughts of food and crops first, he also enjoyed planting flowers around the yard, especially his prize dahlias.

    This enjoyment of flowers continued into his elder years, when he no longer could maintain a vegetable garden. But he took pride in the flowers around the yard of his retirement home.

    As the seed catalogs arrive in your home and seed packets are displayed in stores, what do you plan to plant this year?


    If you have an interest in gardening and enjoy writing about this topic, consider proposing a gardening column for a publication. You also can take a humorous angle, as one of my column writing students did as she delved into writing home repair and gardening columns.

    Copyright © 2003 Mary Emma Allen

    Mary Emma Allen often writes of gardening and cooking. She writes columns for print and online publications and is the author of several books. Her latest book is one on the country craft of quiltmaking, The Magic of Patchwork. Visit her Web site at http://homepage.fcgnetworks.net/jetent/mea. Her e-mail: me.allen@juno.com.

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