Home Book editor You asked for a gardening column, so we bring you a gardening column: Letter from the Editor

You asked for a gardening column, so we bring you a gardening column: Letter from the Editor


We’re starting an experiment today based on our audience telling us what they’d like to see on our platforms: a gardening column specific to Northeast Ohio conditions.

Why garden? I text every weekday morning to just under 1,000 people who subscribe for free, discussing the stories we have in the works and the questions we seek to answer. Sometimes I ask for help, like I did a few weeks ago. I noted the signs that people were burning out from all the bad news around them and asked what kinds of content people would like to see to relieve themselves of the news. (You can subscribe to texts at https://joinsubtext.com/chrisquinn)

SMS subscribers responded as they usually do, in large numbers with many good thoughts. In this case, they mentioned gardening. Many.

In this case, we had a ready candidate. Last year we called for people interested in writing freelance Metro columns for us, and one of the people who applied mentioned gardening in his letter. When we interviewed her, she said that she would like to write a column about the subway, but in a perfect world, she would write a column about gardening. She said she would approach gardening the same way our travel writer, Susan Glaser, approaches travel writing, taking people with them on the trip.

We grant his wish. Susan Brownstein’s first column appeared Friday on cleveland.com and can be found in the Metro section of the Sunday Plain Dealer. This is not an introductory column. She dives in, with everything you need to know about growing tomatoes for the first time. (She’s trying to grow San Marzano tomatoes from seed, but I’m sticking with what I did last year, growing San Marzanos from mail-order plants grafted onto vigorous roots I had one that filled a space 8 feet long and four feet high last year.)

Susan is not a university extension worker. She doesn’t work in a garden centre. She is an engineer who has done technical editing and writing. She moved her family to Cleveland from Southern California three years ago after a national search for the best place to raise a family. She chose Cleveland, in part for its parks, museums, low cost of living and lack of traffic, but also for its thriving Jewish community. She is working on a book of interviews with people who are Jewish by choice and their views on Judaism.

What we love about Susan is that she is a hobby gardener, like many of us. The goal here is a tour guide in the Greater Cleveland Garden, someone who knows a lot but is still learning, just like you and me.

In the coming weeks, she’ll recount her experience separating perennials to swap with friends, shrinking her lawn and creating a native pollinator garden, what she calls “life-changing magic.” not tidying up your flowerbeds”, growing herbs in containers, dealing with plant-eating deer, composting, handling insects and a general philosophy of being in the garden.

This will be a weekly column, as part of the effort to introduce people to hobbies they might enjoy. It will also be available only to subscribers to cleveland.com or The Plain Dealer. You can subscribe at https://www.cleveland.com/subscribe/

We also begin an occasional series on other activities on Saturday, with columnist Ted Diadiun describing his two decades of experience as a rower on the Cuyahoga River. Ted explains what it was like to become a rower, why he enjoys every summer so much and how you could try it out.

Some of the people who received my text made it clear that they did not want this type of content. They just want news. But the vast majority said to bring content like this, so check out Ted and Susan this weekend on cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.