Hartley Magazine

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Get an Online Gardening Education This Winter

Brush up on your houseplant care techniques.

The internet is loaded with gardening advice—good, bad, and atrocious. But excellent online information is available, so it’s worth spending the less-demanding gardening months poking around online. Here’s a sampler of what’s out there in the way of classes, webinars, and podcasts from reliable experts who can help you make the most of your next gardening season. Costs vary, and many are free. But expect to pay more for the hands-on approach.

The Virtual Garden Club is what the indefatigable Margaret Roach and Ken Druse do in their “spare” winter time. This is for those who have a lot of questions and need answers right now from two knowledgeable gardeners and prolific garden authors. The series of nine hours of live instruction includes question and answers sessions, as well as membership in a private Facebook group where more interaction takes place. The cost for membership is $159, less than $20 a session.

Discover new groundcovers to complete your garden design.

Joe Lamp’l wins the prize for the number of ways he offers gardening information on growing edibles—his TV show on PBS, “Growing a Greener World,” his free weekly Joe Gardener podcasts, and his website, which offers free guides on topics such as composting, a ton of videos to watch, and plenty of how-to-grow info in blogs. For working with Joe, you can sign up for his Online Gardening Academy classes. Different courses cover topics such as Mastering Pests Diseases and Weeds ($49) and the Perfect Soil Recipe Master Class ($97). Some courses have short open enrollment periods and high demand, so you need to put your name on the list for notification in order to sign up.

Look for tips for seed starting this year

Darcy Daniels is a Portland, Oregon garden designer, who can break down complicated ideas and make them easy to understand. Her website eGardenGo is loaded with terrific free informational blogs. She also offers a subscription—$10 a month or $120 for the year—and for that you get live chats with Darcy, special webinar presentations, and more intensive members-only content on the blogs.

Presenting herself as The Garden Lady, C.L. Fornari loads her blog on her website with terrific free advice. The page is set up so you can easily scan through her wide variety of topics to find exactly what interests you. And her free podcast, Plantrama, co-presented with Ellen Zachos, you can simply listen to good friends talk plants while you learn.

If you’d like a hort 101, the free Garden Tutor series starts with site analysis and moves on to various aspects of gardening. It’s more like a school structure, with lessons and quizzes to see whether you got the information—something I like, because I can notice the gap between what I think I absorbed, and what I actually learned.

Find new tips for next summer’s harvest.

I asked Kym Pokorny, Communications Specialist at Oregon State University, about horticulture education on the state school level. Her suggestion—look for local Master Gardener programs at extension services near you. And for free reading, Kym and her colleagues have amassed hundreds of short pieces on myriad topics. The focus goes beyond the interests of gardeners in the Pacific Northwest. Reading through the years of lively writing would give you a valuable education.

For learning about houseplants or caring for those in a greenhouse, Create Academy, Ltd. offers the Indoor Gardening Masterclass with James Wong. The free video, his lesson on how to build a terrarium, will draw you in. This demonstration is part of the course, which costs about $108. It’s offered in British pounds, but a credit card sorts the rate at the time of purchase.

And finally, there’s a podcast of garden philosophy—Cottage in the Court—with Teresa Speight. I’ve been following her for a while, and I have been a guest on her show. But I invite you to listen because her thoughts are both cogent and practical, and her voice is the best—so easy on the ear.