Everybody's a Critic

Dear Taunton, Make Me A Subscriber Again

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Dear Taunton,

You publish a lot of very handsome but rather astringent magazines.  Clearly, very little emotion or humor escapes your editorial process.  Occasionally, I will pick up Fine Homebuilding when I’m considering a fireplace insert or half-round gutters and want just the facts, ma’am.  But Fine Gardening?  When the flowers themselves are so silly, I find the tone entirely too chilly.

But I did actually once subscribe to one of your publications, Kitchen Gardener.  Oh, I loved it! 

A piece about planting potatoes wouldn’t stop with how-to.  It would discuss varieties and then give recipes for cooking the just-dug, delicious things.  I mean, Marcella Hazan-quality simple yet sophisticated recipes!  It was the perfect magazine for somebody like me, whose road to gardening ran straight through her stomach, whose garden leads right into the kitchen and up onto the stove.

Try to sell me a story about chartreuse coleus, and I’m out like a light.  But "Demystifying Espalier" or "You Say Celeriac, I Say Celery Root"?   My God, I am GRIPPED!

But I’m not doing the magazine justice.  Kitchen Gardener, it was civilized!   Its editors understood that even though we vegetable gardeners are the dirtiest and sweatiest of all gardeners, we get dirty for refined reasons: We love beautiful food.  We love company.   We love culture, especially when it’s edible.

Apparently, back in 2001, I was kinda eccentric in my interests, because you shut the magazine down before my subscription ran out.  I was heartbroken, and I don’t remember getting any compensation, either.   But at least you didn’t do what Conde Nast did after shutting down House & Garden … and send me Domino, whose witlessness now pisses me off every single month.

But I don’t think I’m really eccentric any more, though you may have to travel many miles to find somebody as excited about parsnips as me.  Not when Burpee reported a 40% rise in sales of vegetable seeds and plants this spring.  Not when the New York Times–formerly the paper of clueless urbanites–is writing about root cellars.  Not when New York Magazine devotes pages and pages to New Yorkers growing food on their roofs and raising chickens on their penthouse terraces.  Not when Fortune profiles oil industry experts who advise that we all start growing food in the backyard.

Kitchen gardening is poised for a powerful revival.  It’s always made infinite sense, and in the midst of a financial collapse and energy and climate crisis, it makes triple infinite sense.  Even though I am now an experienced old hand at vegetable growing, I still want to hear what the super-expert parsnip growers have to say, and I really want the recipes.  Won’t you please bring Kitchen Gardener back?

Sincerely,

Michele Owens

Posted by on November 7, 2008 at 4:45 am, in the category Everybody's a Critic.
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26 Responses to “Dear Taunton, Make Me A Subscriber Again”

  1. I could not agree more. Kitchen Gardener was my all time favorite magazine.

    I still have the old issues sitting on my shelf between my garden books and cookbooks. It gave us the best of both worlds.

    It is the perfect time for a comeback!

  2. Renee says:

    Ditto. There are so many new veg gardeners out there, the timing seems perfect. Taunton has the cooking connections with Fine Cooking, so the Kitchen Gardener would be a logical extension.

  3. vicki says:

    Amen!! Yes, bring it back!!

  4. I am not a kitchen gardener — too much shade and too many excellent farmers’ markets all over my town. But I agree emphatically with your Domino comment. Why they thought HG subscribers would like that silly little mag is beyond me. And as a gardener, I have to point out that HG had some of the most opinionated and interesting garden articles and photos as well.

  5. Michele Owens says:

    Each Little World, I made that absurd trade-off the subject of a long rant in February:

    http://www.gardenrant.com/my_weblog/2008/02/domino-effect.html

  6. kim says:

    While I never experienced Kitchen Garden, I can’t agree more about it being time for a comeback. Without ever seeing it, I can say I’d be a likely subscriber. I’m planning on expanding my tiny little kitchen garden in the spring, and I’d love to have a regular publication to help me along the way.

  7. greg draiss says:

    I never knew it went away!!!
    I used to love reading the articles beacuse it was a complete root to shoot to roof of your mouth publication.

    Closest thing I have seen is Herb Companion which I read on occasion while selcting my next cigar from Cigar Afficionado!

    Or was that reading Herb Companion while sitting next to the latest issue of High Times?

    The(smoke it if you must) TROLL

  8. MarciBeth says:

    I agree completely, bring Kitchen Gardener back. If timing is everything then this is the time to support the growing numbers of kitchen gardeners.

    I have searched used book stores for the few issues that were published and needless to say they are very difficult to find. Why? Because, they were great and still are great and kitchen gardeners are reluctant to part with their copies.

  9. Michelle says:

    I was visiting Taunton headquarters in Conn. on business when the news came down that Kitchen Gardener was being discontinued due to lack of readership.
    At that time I was introduced to the woman who was running the ship of contents at K.G. and was told that she would be switching over to a position at Fine Gardening.
    So, if she ( forgot her name ) is still there, drop her a note so that she can revitalize a dedicated section on Kitchen Gardening in the Fine Gardening publication.
    It is doubtful that Taunton will bring back K.G., but it’s not such a far flung idea to have it bring back some of its wonderful Kitchen Garden articles and photography within the covers of Fine Gardening.
    Forward this link to the Fine Gardening Editor in Chief.

    Stranger things have happened, and as you say, its time may have come again .

  10. Kate G. says:

    Thank you for standing up for magazines with real content. Maybe the “eye-candy” editorial days are behind us.

  11. tulipa says:

    Yes! I adored it too and treasured the back issues I had the wit to save. Thank you so much for the above post.

  12. Steve Aitken says:

    As Managing Editor of Fine Gardening, I am pleased to report that you (and we veggie supporters within Taunton) have been heard. Though KG is not coming back exactly, we will be reprinting much of its content in some special issues coming out next spring.

    We are also launching a web site devoted to growing (and cooking) veggies, herbs, and fruit. There, you will be able to acesss plenty of the old (but still good) KG material, and find new stuff as well. It will also be a place where you can interact with other kitchen gardeners, sharing and learning from successes and failures in the garden.

    Fine Gardening will also be including much more content on edibles. And if you pick up the magzine in the coming months, I think you will see the tone becoming a lot less “astringent.” Our magazine is devoted to the delivery of information, and always will be. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun sometimes.

    And, hey, whatever Michele Owens wants, Michele Owens, gets. Up to a point.

  13. Jackie says:

    I’m a new kitchen gardener and would LOVE a magazine like this!!!

  14. I’m very excited to hear the plans the Fine Gardening editors have for the Kitchen Gardening type content. I loved that magazine and kept all the issues I got. I still enjoy reading them, always learning something new, finding a new topic of interest that I didn’t see before. Fine Gardening… you are going to pick up at least me as a new subscriber!

  15. Amy Stewart says:

    Great to hear from you, Steve! What I loved about Kitchen Gardening was the articles about these backyard growers who were almost farmers–maybe they sold microgreens to restaurants, that sort of thing. They not only knew their crop very, very well, they were also “living the dream,” so to speak, so there was a little bit of fantasy farming to the whole thing. I loved their personalities.

    Now is certainly the time to give into any and all of Michele’s demands!

  16. Michele Owens says:

    Great to hear from you, Steve! You have now won my subscription dollar.

  17. Faith says:

    I’m amazed that so many others shared my enthusiasm for Kitchen Garden magazine! I thought I was the only one howling in the wilderness when it went out of production. So many times since then I’ve heard gardeners say they’d given up growing vegetables because “it was was too much work” or because “they didn’t want to can anymore.” All those potential Kitchen Garden subscribers, who never really tuned into the simple pleasures growing fresh food.

    I’m skeptical that Fine Gardening will be able to satisfy my edible gardening fixation but I’ll look forward to checking out the new website. Still, there’s nothing like a good magazine and I wish Kitchen Garden or something very much like it would return!

  18. Absolutely, I’ve written before how my initial garden was based on a geometric design from Kitchen Gardener. What a fabulous magazine it was. I wish they would bring it back, and I’m not just a vegetable gardener anymore. It was wonderful reading and showed you could do a veggie garden with class.~~Dee

  19. luise h. says:

    I think Fine Gardening just picked up a few new subscribers.Count me in.Michelle,thanks for the links in your Article,loved them.

  20. Judy Valdes says:

    I’m with you Michele. While flowers are pretty vegetables are beautiful. And that’s what adorns my kitchen walls – pictures of tomatoes and hot peppers!

  21. Marie says:

    I still have all my old issues and it’s about the ONLY magazine I go back to. I loved KG. I was devastated when it went away. I will be ECSTATIC if FG lives up its promise to add more KG content. And I’m with Amy – the articles about the backyard growers were so cool.

    FG was one of the few mags I renewed this year, but I thought long and hard before I did. If they start incorporating more KG material, the decision won’t be so hard next year!

  22. Judybusy says:

    Oh, this will have me going to my back issues and re-visiting my old KGs. I never subsribed to FG because it was way to upscale and stuffy for me. (I’m the kind of gardener who was a huge fan of the Mike McGrath era of Organic Gardening.) If they follow through and have more KG stuff, I will check them out. Way to go!

    Every year, I *still* make the rosemary chicken potpie at least once.

  23. louise says:

    Good going michelle-
    Ive just re established my veggie beds after several hectic years ‘off’. Will look for Tauntons mag- by the way, once an eccentric, always an eccentric! ;}

  24. Gina says:

    I have been looking for Kitchen Garden magazine for years! I can’t believe there are so many others who loved that magazine also! Why can’t they bring it back?

  25. Quarry Joy says:

    I was looking through my back issues if Kitchen Gardener just yesterday. As nice as Aitken’s response is above, I still want KG magazine back. Some things we want online. Some things are preferable in print. We “curl up with” certain types of literary works, and gardening is among those.

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