Sunday, June 12, 2005
Armchair Gardening

Garden Mags to the Max! Posted by Hello

Peoria's best used bookstore is actually a museum. The Lakeview Museum features an ongoing used booksale in their book court. Earlier this week, I needed a little "pick me up." The weather is giving me the one-two punch--heat and humidity. When it feels like a sauna outside, I'm much more incline to while away the day inside enjoying the airconditioning than to spend quality time with my weeds. So I stopped by the museum to browse the bookshelves, looking for a little gardening inspiration.

And lo, an entire stack of used gardening magazines! At 25 cents each, I bought the entire pile for less than the cost of one regularly-priced glossy.

And I learned something interesting. The venerable Organic Gardening used to be funny. It seems that back in the early 90's, a new editor with a sense of humor came on board. The pre-1990's editions are dry and serious, but after Mike McGrath joined the team, the magazine took on a folksy good humor. McGrath started every edition with a hyper-active account of what's going on in his garden. The letters to the editor were answered in the magazine with wacky puns. And the magazine's articles shared some common sense insight along with the thorough research the magazine is known for.

These days, Mike McGrath hosts a gardening radio show "
You Bet Your Garden" that is carried on some local NPR channels. I listen to it from time to time over the internet. It's got McGrath's zaniness, with good gardening served on the side.

Today's Organic Gardening has returned to its roots, which means it's as serious as Sunday. The magazine is also much slimmer these days, with fewer articles and ads. This makes me very curious. What brought about the change? Did McGrath leave the magazine to begin a career as a radio star? Did the return to serious reportage drive down the readership, or did the mag return to it's previous carnation in the hopes of bringing back it's base? Hmmm... Very curious... Whatever the reason for the change, I'd like to find more of the circa-1990 editions.


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