You Told Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want

Blogging Is Like Cooking Dinner

Except kids never ask for this.

You know how sometimes you ask your family what they want for dinner, and they distractedly say things like, “Oh, you know, whatever’s easiest.”

Maybe they’re only half-listening, or maybe they are trying to be nice about it, but really you just want a firm opinion. You don’t mind making the spaghetti, you just want someone else to make the spaghetti-call, just this once. You want to not make the decision about what to cook for dinner. Again. Like you do every damn night of the year.

Sometimes it’s easiest to deliver if you know what people want. Well, I asked what would make your garden life easier and – man – did you deliver.

NW Edible readers left 70-some comments detailing out exactly what you want to learn about. Just like, “Hey, mom, I’d really like chicken and rice and broccoli tonight,” makes dinner easier, even if the actual work is the same, your suggestions and dream wish lists for tools and cheat sheets make my blogger job easier.

Nicely done. So, wanna know what you (the collective you, the reader) want to read and learn about, and what future post topics you can except to see over the next (many) months?

The requests tended to fall into broad themes.

Or this.

I went to a professional, my husband, to summarize the info.

Homebrew Husband’s old job was with the data analytics department of a major cell phone company. Imagine a database with detailed records of over 40 billion phone calls per month – who called whom, length of call, geographic area of caller and receiver, etc. etc. That’s so much information it’s basically meaningless.

Now imagine you’re the person who takes that info and turns it into something useful so the marketing department or the finance department or the executive team can make business decisions. Decisions like: what customers do we target with our new unlimited-calling-to-Mexico plans? How much is kiosk-store fraud effecting our bottom line? Should we get the hell out and sell the company to AT&T?

Nick worked for the department that took useless data and, Rumpelstiltskin-like, turned it into useful information gold. Glancing over the comments on a giveaway post and looking for common themes turned out to be fairly straightforward, compared to parsing 40 billion phone records.

Upcoming Topics and Tools

They only ever want this.

Key themes from the suggestion comments, and topics and tools you can expect to see covered here on NW Edible, are:

  • Companion planting – the real deal without the crazy woo-woo. Half of companion planting is hard science and half is someone else’s garden magic. You never have to follow someone else’s garden magic, you get to make your own. I’ll talk about the real deal stuff and you can take it from there.
  • Composting – browns and greens and vermi’s: oh my! Green manure, chicken manure, horse manure, humanure – what?!? Compost is intimidating. I’ll tell you how to be a terrible composter (like me) and still grow a great garden.
  • Crop rotation – the question on everyone’s mind: how the heck do you rotate plant families on the suggested 3 to 7 year schedule when you have two raised beds and a self-watering container on the porch? (Quick answer: don’t worry about it too much. No, really, I mean it, and I’ll get into why in a future post. For now, don’t let not having the ideal non-previously-used-for-the-same-plant-family space stop you from sticking a plant in where you have room. It’ll be okay.)
  • Plant spacing – for containers, raised beds, and maximum yield in small space. How to convert seed packet row spacing into raised bed grid spacing, and how mark planting grids the easy way and how Square Foot Gardening plays into it all.
  • Yield Planning – how to grow exactly as much as you’ll eat without a glut or a paucity, including how to stop planting food you know you won’t eat. (Stop doing this or learn to love rutabagas. Seriously.)
  • Harvesting – how to, when to, and what to do with it once you pick it. Special request on turnips.
  • Soil amendments – what vegetables need what amendments and at what frequency, what you really need to worry about, what you can let slide and how to figure it out for your garden.

The Giveaway Winner

Thanks for everyone who contributed to the storehouse of blog ideas. I wish I could send you all a book. But, just like the Highlander, there can be only one.

That one, chosen by random draw, is:

Congrats, Maryhysong, you have won your choice of one of my five favorite gardening books. Drop me a line letting me know which one you’d like, and what address I should send it to, and I’ll get it right out to you.


  1. Noelle says

    OK, this is on the less technical end of things, but I’d love to hear how you integrate your kids into the garden or chicken raising. Mine are 1 & 3 and I look forward to the day when their “help” is more than digging and stomping all over seedlings. Although they’re very good at the eating part, I’ll give them that. ;-)

  2. Tammie Haley says

    Trish, most of your spring time plants do very well if they don’t get full sun. I grow lettuce, chard, spinach, onions, peas, rhubarb, radishes and my microgreens in the area of my yard that don’t get full sun or very little sun during the day. I also have NW berries growing on the north side of my house, with the evergreen huckleberries. A couple varieties of my blueberries and honeyberries are loving their locations that only get 3 hours of morning sun. Then there are herbs. Sorrel, chervil, parsly, chives, mint, borage, thyme are all planted next to my hedge that also get dapple sunlight throughout the day. They love it and don’t have to worry about the leaves getting burnt.

  3. says

    Glad to see you’re addressing the crop rotation bugaboo. I’ve got a limited space and decided this year as long as I don’t plant a family in the same place as it grew last year nothing’s going to burst into flame and I’ll still have produce. Although the flames would have been kind of cool.

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