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I've never been a big magazine buyer; celebrities don't interest me; the closest I come to reading about them is in the weekly tv mag I pick up. Now you could say that I was born with green fingers; it runs in the family; my grandfather was a market gardener; his knowledge was passed onto my mum and I've got the love of gardening from her. Whilst living at home there was no need to buy gardening books when you've got parents to just ask but since moving hundreds of miles away I needed to find a back up source of info. There are a pick of gardening magazines for all tastes but as I was interested in growing fruit and veg not garden design I chose 'Kitchen Garden'. Its a monthly magazine thats available to buy from the start of the month but covers the following calendar month. So if you buy it in early Feb its March's edition. It costs £3.60 which I think is very good for what you get and you are able to take out a monthly subscription which reduces this further. Kitchen Garden is over 100 pages of hints and tips for gardeners of all ages and experiences from newbies starting out to the older generation who've been gardening for years, there's something for everyone. One of the best bits for me has to be the free packets of seeds that regular come with it. These normally coincide with the relevant article inside so for any complete novice you have all you need to get you started. Each month the front cover is emblazened with what the main featured article will be and this is always planned out to match the gardening season. You won't find a main write up during the winter months on how to grow strawberries for instance. The contents inside are clearly set out: *News* - Events that are coming up across the country; any changes in the law and general gardening news. *Your Plot* - This covers the obvious; what jobs that need to be done in the next month, the main featured article (this month its on 'back to basic - tomatoes'), your letters and tips, questions and answers. *Allotment Life* - follow how allotment holders are getting on from all areas of the country. Don't think this magazine is just for people with allotments or big gardens; if you've only got room for a couple of pots on a patio there is something for you as well - next month will have a free supplement on growing crops from pots. Other features include *Organic Gardening*, *Chickens*, *Readers Savers* and another favourite of mine *Seasonal Recipes* (this month it has 3 very different cauliflower recipes). Overall this is a quality magazine that is well made, clearly laid out with plenty of pictures and articles that are concise but easy to read. It really does cater for all ages and abilities. I regularly refer back to old copies as a point of reference now and look forward to the new one coming out each month.
What a magazine, when we first ventured into growing some three years ago, we were complete novices and had plenty of disasters along the way, after trawling through the usual display of glossy magazines i happened upon the kitchen garden and what a complete change. This monthly magazine first inspired me on to wind breaks, (living where we do this is necessary) and found that the information given covered was very informative, so much so that we are now planting willow, as explained in the article, this suits our climate and can be used not only for a windbreak but as a living stucture, which can be moulded into whatever you like, also it can be used as a fuel and for selling onto crafts, which makes it both economical and efficient, as our willow is in very early stages i can not comment on survival in our extreme wind!! but it is still in the ground which says something. Secondly the range of fruit and vegetables covered is extensive and covers every growing medium available, from tradition use of innes compounds to the more modern hydroponics and coir, which inspires the reader to try other methods of growing from the norm. I found that coir can work out cheaper for small uses such as seedling and potting on, but for planters or larger areas this can pose an expense problem compared with the more conventional grow bags and compounds available at your local garden centre, it also drains much more quickly leaving watering a major problem when you are not in attendence on your plants! having said that peat based compost can get waterlogged. Contrary to most gardening magazines, this is neither pretencous or repetetive, and there are light hearted articles from dad and lad and the weather man, it does not cover water features and fancy gardens, but takes you out into the real world with feature length articles from all over the british isles and sometimes beyond, from the country estate to someone's retrieved allottment. I h ave personally tried their recommendations for module growing with major success (until put outside when they are blown to bits windbreaks again!!) and have been influenced by the greenhouse/polytunnel debate which is a major consideration when thinking of the expense of purchasing such items, also covered are gardening products such as wormeries, lawn mowers, strimmers etc, the last issue was devoted to composting in every which way you can think of. I eagerly await this magazine dropping on my doormat and my only complaint is it is not frequent enough, there is also a very informative web site if you wish to visit.
I first got the August 2001 magazine by replying to an advert for a free copy, in the NASALG magazine, and ever since I've bought it religiously! It is a monthly publication, priced at £2.90 which consists of around 65-70 pages, which are dedicated to life on the plot, whether you have a small veggie garden or a full blown allotment. Each month it has regular features such as: First Pickings - A round up of the months news and views. Letters and Readers exchange - A valuable resource for sharing ideas, disasters and advice. Competitions - Usually two or three with one being a large prize worth around £100. Recipes - Something a little different to cook with your harvests. Reader Offers - Bargain prices for plants, tools or accesories for your plot. Pestwatch - A guide to the nasties that eat your crops before you do! And how to deter them. On your plot - A guide to what to sow, tend and harvest at this time of the year. There is a monthly feature on one type of fruit or vegetable which is very in depth and is usually a few pages long. This covers varieties, what to do when, pruning (if applicable), how to sow, grow etc. It also includes step by step pictures and photographs and is written by experts such as Andrew Tokely, Joy Larkcom, Peter Surridge et al. Two of the writers have allotment plots, Edwin Oxlade and Phil McCann and they do a monthly report on their 'lottie' escapades from different viewpoints. Each month Bob Flowerdew offers his opinions on a certain subject, his recent topics being greenhouses v. polytunnels, and watering sytems. There are also reports on various gardens around the country which are open to the public, detailing their growing methods, and practices. Chickens are another regular feature with Sue Hammon offering advise on keeping birds. Lots of angles are approached, from hydroponics to bio-dynamics in an unbiased way, and wildlife and the environment are taken seriously without making you feel guilty for using a little weedkiller! More practical subjects are also investigated, such as composting, building raised beds, digging a well etc, and these subjects are tackled well with step by step instructions for the beginners without being patronising to the more advanced gardener. As well as the competitions there are regular opportunities to try out new seed varieties, where seed companies such as Thompson and Morgan send you free packets on the proviso that you let them know how well they did by filling in a trial form with information such as sowing date, harvesting date, taste, yield etc. Three or four times a year they also give away free seeds as a thankyou for buying the magazine. This year I had carrots, lettuce and tomatoes from Thompson and Morgan, so no skimping on the brands either! They also have a website with forums of questions and answers posted daily by readers, which is an invaluable source of information and tips. This is a great magazine on an otherwise ignored subject as it is difficult to find vegetable and fruit advice in any of the main gardening mags.
After starting out growing flowers, I have now grown almost fanatical about growing vegetables. (I also have a lovely raspbery bush thriving like mad.) Imagine then, how over the moon I was to find this specialist publication which concentrates on all aspects of herd, vegetable and fruit growing. Although you get the odd feature article on growing these probucts in the general gardening titles, The Kitchen Gardener is concerned with nothing else. I have only had one copy so far because I have only just found it, but I can't wait for the next issue. The current issue has features on beetroots, comfrey, a beginners column, raspberries, microwaving your veg, allotments, veg to sow this month, beekeeping and loads, LOADS more. It's a read cover to cover title ... so if this is your line of interest, make sure you have a few hours to spare if you pick it up, because you'll have difficulty putting it down again. Artciles are by well known 'names' in gardening and the paper is very glossy and thick. Good job as you will want to keep all your copies. There is also a diary, readers' lettes, offers ... oh, you name it, it's here, packed into a very full 68 pages this time. I cannot enthuse enough about thsi title, because it is so niche. For anyone who wants to 'grow their own' and learn how to cook their produce, you must go out and buy this title.
The Kitchen Garden is a specialist magazine for vegetable, fruit and herb gardeners. Every month it contains in-depth articles on veg, fruit and herb growing written by some of the most successful and well-known gardeners in this field such as Bob Flowerdew. The information contained is very precise but written in an way even a beginner can understand and not be outfaced by it, whilst the experienced gardener will find the latest developments and detailed horticultural information they need. For example, the type of articles you can expect from this publication include three page long pieces on a single plant, such as tomatoes for example, providing details about sowing, planting out, care, possible problems and solutions. The magazine often carries articles specifically aimed at beginners though I believe many beginners may overlook this publication on the shelf as its cover does present itself as very specialist and it is tempting to think on first glance it may be too detailed for new gardeners. For those with an interest in growing fruit and vegetables to show there are often pieces on how to grow and exhibit your plants. Of particular use is the detailed gardeners' calendar giving a thorough list of what jobs you should be doing in the garden and when. There is a readers advice column which is very useful. This magazine produces in-depth, detailed articles of interest to budding and serious vegetable gardening and when collected would make a superb reference set. For anyone with an interest in vegetable and fruit growing I would highly recommend it and suggest a subscription to it may make a nice present for someone with avid interest in the subject especially if they have an allotment.