Garden Solutions

Garden Solutions was a publication sponsored by a group of mail-order companies selling products to gardeners, including plants, seeds, and bulbs; organic fertilizers and pesticides; gardening equipment and accessories, such as bird feeders. The mission of the publication was to promote the products of the sponsoring companies, but to do so in the context of providing useful information to gardeners of flowers and vegetables. (These are treated as different constituencies by most publications.)

“Useful information” took a variety of forms. Every issue included strategic overviews of topics like extending the season in the vegetable garden or building raised beds, which is something both those with vegetable gardens and those with flower gardens might benefit from. Of course, most gardeners also have a fair number of houseplants.

In addition to these more traditional features, I developed a monthly feature called “One Problem, Five Solutions,” in which I’d present a particular problem or situation and suggest a different strategies for dealing with it. The first installment recommended ways to hide an air conditioner; other topics included gardening on a slope and gardening for those with physical limitations. A less typical entry looked at ways to invite wildlife into your garden.

The magazine included “profiles” of specific plants, both flowers and fruits and vegetables. This article on tulips includes several of my photos. We also profiled readers, like an Ohio woman whose love of gardening led to a business supplying fresh produce to local restaurants. Since many of our readers would be interested in selling surplus produce, I interviewed her at length to get a clear idea of what was involved. The resulting reader profile focused mostly on her annual schedule. Rather than trying to cram in a sidebar, I put a supplemental story with tips for other potential sellers in the front of the book.

Finally, we also provided promotional material about specific products offered by our sponsoring companies; again, we presented these in ways that would be most helpful to our readers. This piece comparing the relative safety of pesticides is typical.

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