It’s hot out there! And sure, you don’t need me to tell you that, but that’s what gardeners (and humans) do: interact by complaining about the weather. If you were smart, you got as many of your gardening tasks as possible done by last month while temperatures were still bearable–though what with the cold rainy spring, this was a difficult year to get a jump on necessary jobs, and I can tell you I didn’t manage all of mine.
Even if you are fully and properly mulched and irrigated and fenced and planned down to the last seed and transplant, you still need to be outside doing some harvesting (and probably weeding and watering too). And let’s face it, it’s not pleasant. So perhaps, like me, you need a distraction from the sweat and mosquitoes? Let me suggest… podcasts!
I know: we should all be listening to the sounds of nature. But frankly there are days when the dulcet tones of crows and squirrels (or lawnmowers) get annoying, and not distracting enough either. So I put in my earbuds (if the budget stretches far enough, let me recommend a Bluetooth headset so those dangling cords don’t catch on branches) and play one of the many entertaining and/or educational podcasts available for free on your app of choice. I listen to podcasts on lots of subjects: history, culture, science, and (sigh) politics–but of course there’s also gardening!
Today I’ll just recommend three podcasts I enjoy that cover food gardening. Of course there are many others out there that I haven’t listened to yet, so please steer me to your favorites (vegetable-related or not) in the comments. (And if you don’t know how podcasts work, see What the Heck is a Podcast? below.)
This is one of the few podcasts I know about that focuses on edible plants: not just how to grow them, but also facts about their biology and history and how they fit into our culture. It’s produced by UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens and hosted by Jeff Gillman and Cindy Proctor. So far they’ve covered plants like grapes, corn, blueberries, sweet potatoes, and some unexpected topics like poppies and mad honey. It’s great to get a deep dive into a single plant (episodes vary from about 20-40 minutes) and the coverage is informative and illuminating as well as friendly and entertaining.
Hosted by garden writers Ellen Zachos and C.L. Fornari, this fun back-and-forth discussion (running about a half hour per episode) covers general gardening topics, but it never fails to include something about growing, harvesting (or foraging) and cooking food plants. Dinner comes first on this show! The two hosts really seem to enjoy and respect each other’s opinions, and there is something to learn in every episode. Topics are seasonal, so if you keep up with the episodes twice a month the conversation will always be relevant. I would love to garden with these women, chatting as we weed.
Margaret Roach, the host of this podcast, is well-known in the gardening world. I’ve been following her blog of the same name for a while, but hadn’t bothered to seek out the podcast–and now that I have, I’ll keep doing so. Roach interviews a guest on each show–garden writers and experts, chefs, etc.–and she is very good at asking questions that elicit fascinating answers. This half-hour podcast covers many gardening and plant-related topics, and usually just one or two per episode, so if you’re only interested in food gardening you’ll have to pick and choose–but hey, you might spot something else of interest and end up planting something you never thought you’d grow. By the way, if you’d rather read than listen, transcripts are available on the website.
What the Heck is a Podcast?
A podcast is essentially a radio show you can download and listen to anytime and anywhere you want. It may be a show that has been broadcast on the radio (in which case it will probably be a fixed length and professionally produced) or it could be recorded in someone’s garage (widely varying in length, rough around the edges). Or anything in between. You can listen to podcasts on your smartphone or other smart devices (but small is handy, for carrying out into the garden). You need an internet connection to download, but not to listen once you’ve captured the episode on your device.
This article gives you the basics on how to find, download, and listen to podcasts, along with reviews of some podcast apps. If you have an iPhone, you’ve already got a built-in podcast app (though in my opinion it’s not the best one out there).
When you’ve found a podcast you think you’ll like, I suggest downloading an episode to try it out, and then subscribing so every new episode lands in your feed automatically. That way you won’t forget to go looking for new episodes, and you can always unsubscribe later if it’s no longer enjoyable.
Have fun listening!
By Erica Smith, Montgomery County Master Gardener (and heat-frazzled podcast-gobbler)