my latest assignment: a series in ‘the new york times’

AN OUT-OF-THE-BLUE email in April 2020 shook me out of my “new normal” routine. It was an invitation from a “New York Times” editor to create a series of how-to garden articles for their readers who are finding themselves at home, in spring, and maybe could use the kind of information you come to my newsletter and my website and podcast for.

The first installment appeared April 20, 2020. On March 31, 2021, the paper ran a Q&A with me to kick off Year 2 of the series.

The topics I’ve covered so far:

I WAS FLATTERED to be asked, of course, but most of all, I’m pleased that a media outlet as widely read as “The New York Times” understood that the garden is a place of refuge—but can also be a little daunting!—and committed to offer their readers support in these dystopian times since the pandemic began.

The more happy garden moments that happen around the nation, and world, the better, I figure.

I’m also pleased that I get to write again for the place of my start as a journalist all those years ago. A mini-homecoming.

Go say hello; if you are a “New York Times” subscriber or haven’t used your quota of free articles this month, you should be able to click through. Comments are open to subscribers, who are even invited to ask questions. Uh-oh, I guess I know what I’ll be doing even more of than ever …

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  1. Do you have kindly invited us to do this but Patricia Bleecker says:

    Please tell me how to ask an important gardening question
    Do you have kindly invited us to do this but I don’t know how thank you kindly

    1. Barbara Kraft says:

      Please offer advise on gardening on a balconey. In terra-cotta pots and plastic balconey rail pots and those cloth bags
      So many folks have balconies in metropolitan areas..mine faces east south east…last year I grew 2 tomato.varieties, basil & petunias..my 1st effort

  2. Michele Faison says:

    Hi Margaret,

    How do I open one of your NYT columns listed? I’d like to read the one on compost.


    Michele Faison

    1. Kris Kilz says:

      Do you realize that we who read your newsletter and would like to read your column cannot access them via the links? Unless you have a subscription to NYTimes they are unavailable. Perhaps you could include them in the newsletter?

      1. richard weir says:

        I agree with you Kris. As I once was a subscriber to the NYT, but once it became soooo Liberally one-sided, that ended me getting the Times.
        I would like to know from Margaret, however, that if her gardening articles appear on a completely regular basis, and on what day, like back-when they did with Joan Lee Faust, I just might go to the paper store on that particular day-of-the-week, and buy that one issue.

  3. Debbie Zink says:

    I am a little old fashion and would love to have a book of your NY times articles. Any chance you are thinking of putting them in book form? I totally have enjoyed the journey with you through this interesting year. Thanks for you information and comfort.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Debbie. The rights to do that would be in the hands of the paper…and I don’t that that’s their kind of thing. : )

      1. edie abrams says:

        I once bought a book by Thomas Friedman and was disappointed to discover that it was a collation of articles he had written and I had already read. So, it’s worth finding out. Perhaps it depends on the contract you have with the newspaper.

      2. Maura Davies says:

        To those who are frustrated by the subscription requirement: check with your local public library. They may offer free NYT access. My library system (Jefferson Co. Alabama) does.

  4. Paul says:

    This is so useful, thanks Margaret. We’ve just started a new garden project and your post about the easier way to make a garden bed was very inspiring. We use old recycled railway sleepers which work really well for raised beds.

  5. sally mills says:

    re seed catalogs: dont forget to promote Baker Creek in missouri, family-run and

    No Postage . wonderful heirloom varieties in many plants

  6. John Tuton Jackson says:

    I love your American notes having had an obsession with all things natural and American all my life. Reading the works of Ernest Thompson Seton and the photos of Elliot Porter, Peterson, H.K Job and W. J. Longs wonderful illustrated books changed my life.

  7. R Stuckey says:

    I recently discovered your podcast, “A Way to Garden”, and have been enjoying those. Now I have some of your articles to read! We do have at least one thing in common and that is the battle with Houttuynia cordata. It was here when I bought my house 20 years ago and has been a continuing battle. I wondered if you had tried solarization and if it worked. It is a cruel thing that as late as last year, I found it for sale at a local garden center with a weak warning that it “may become invasive”.

  8. Vikki Callaghan says:

    I’m disappointed to say I cannot access your NYT articles via your website. I have not used my quota of NYT articles. Is there a special way to read them that I am not aware of ?

  9. Sheila Warner says:

    Please give me advice on how to deal with a garden that has contracted a fungus disease. I have 200 sf of sedum recently installed. Half has crown rot. I have beauty berry, bush daisy, sage, Chinese fringe, agapanthus and African iris that have stem rot and/or died off completely. My professional landscaper is stumped. Help.

  10. Luanne says:

    I would love to read your articles but I don’t want to subscribe to the newspaper. Is there another way? Thanks Margaret for everything! I’ve loved all your topics.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Luanne. The Times, like virtually every paper and magazine, has a “paywall,” and you get 5 free views per month before they put that up, preventing seeing more. I can’t reprint the articles here or anything, and have no other way to grant access beyond subscribing (which I do since it was my “home” paper since forever). They often have a $1 a week offer going that can be canceled at anytime, or so other people have mentioned to me.

  11. Sabina Missana says:

    Any chance you can share any of these articles without having to go through The NY Times? I really don’t want a subscription and that’s the only way it will let me open the article. I’m interested in the article about growing figs in colder climates. I’ve been nurturing two Chicago Hardy trees for four years now and they’ve yet to produce fruit.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Mitzi. It usually goes live digitally on Weds. or Thursday, and then is in the print paper the Sunday a few days later. However that is the print paper in teh NY Edition, and in the national edition it’s not always in the same day or in at all. You can always look for new ones at this link where all past columns are rounded up. In winter do we do them every couple or few weeks, then in March sometime through early October it’s weekly.

  12. Debbie Becker says:

    Is there a way to read the New York Times articles without subscribing to them? When I click your link the New York Times covers it up and say I have to pay to read it.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Debby. As mentioned in the links in the story, go to pbs.org/gardenfit and you can stream it there, or you can check with your local affiliate to see if it is on their schedule. Stations tend to pick up shows on different timetables and so it is not consistent…but it is already there for streaming on the PBS website (the first episode).

  13. Judy says:

    Disappointed to find that one must subscribe to the NYT to access your articles. They claim that I have used my quota despite not having read any articles there before. Very sorry!

    1. Polly Farrington says:

      If you can’t access Margaret’s Times articles directly, check with your local public library. Many libraries provide online access to the NYTimes. Depending on the type of service your library subscribes to, you might be able to get a free account for the Times. Or access could be through a database of many different newspapers, often you just get the text, no photos.

      The New York Public Library also provides free library accounts to all NY state residents. Such a great service. Access to tons of online research resources, including the NYTimes (and tons of ebooks and magazines!)

  14. Heather Evans says:

    Would you please write a NYT article about “green mulch”—the benefits and how to? I have discovered that traditional mulching, as described in your recent article, hampers the kind of dense native planting that Thomas Rainer, Piet Oudolf and others practice. For example, the stolons of two natives (dune sunflower, river sage) I’m growing in my Florida garden can’t root through the mulch; the stolons dry up and the plants don’t spread as I wish. I am a fan of your column and would appreciate info on using more plants in lieu of much.

  15. Diane says:

    Generally, my fall clean-up is more of a dusting;) This year, it’s my winter reading list that’s changed: focus on xeriscape.

  16. Barbara says:

    I read your article on How to Read the Tree Leaves. Another angle on why some trees hold on to their leaves comes from the cooperative, rather than competitive, aspect of Nature. I, too, wondered why some trees hold onto their leaves until spring. After a winter storm, I watched a squirrel collect leaves from a tree to reinforce its nest. Nature supports life. I wondered, too, about how we reflect and respond to the different seasons and their purpose. Do signs of the four seasons show no matter the climate? Is a period of dormancy just as important to us for life and health as it is for trees? What would “dormancy” look like for humans? The answers require going beyond literal definitions and solely scientific approaches..

  17. paula gallo says:

    Good morning, i just listened to your great podcast where you were chatting with Ulli Lorimer about pruning trees sort of roughly – not just lopping off a branch. In order to increase opportunities for bugs and wildlife. So fascinating! I do work with children, helping them reimagine their outdoor spaces, and helping them understand that they have the right to share these opinions.
    I am working on a school ground in Toronto where there is an old standing dead tree that has just been lopped off! wondering if there is any more info on this interesting practice.
    thanks so much, love your podcast and the articles!

  18. Lynn M Furrow says:

    I ordered the Weeds of the World book and have to say I was very disappointed and sent it back. It did not have two real baddies in the mid atlantic area which are Stilt Grass (Microstegium vimineum) and Basket Grass (Oplismenus hirtellus).

  19. Judy says:

    Margaret, I always enjoy all you print, so much good info! I have also gotten some very good books through your recommendations. Thank you,

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