Ministry of Controversy

The podcast of Linda Chalker-Scott – and why garden writers should consult with garden professors

The Podcast
New this week – Linda also has a podcast!  And here's the first one. (It features an iLinda and Richardn-garden interview with designer Richard Greenberg, shown here.)  She was lucky enough to team up with a broadcasting professional, so the technical quality is excellent. And if you don't hate Linda already for her success as a hort communicator, you just might after you hear how articulate she is.  (Having chatted with her a few times I confess I wondered if she might be too fast a talker for a podcast, but it turns out that's not a problem.) 

They're not yet available on iTunes, and if the various episodes will be collected in one spot, I don't know where it is. (Linda?)

Help for Garden Writers
Like Extension academics everywhere, Linda's job includes answering inqueries from garden writers so that they provide information to the public that's scientifically accurate. Trouble is, many (probably most) don't ask. Of the garden writers in Linda's region (the Pacific Northwest), only one commonly consults with her.

Garden writers attending the GWA symposium in Indianapolis will have the opportunity to hear Linda rant talk about this very subject in her talk "Evidence-based garden information."  It's Monday, right before the banquet.

But what should a garden writer do when Linda or another hort professor says something they disagree with?  (And we know it happens.)  I have two suggestions:

  • Write to the hort prof in question citing the research results you've read that contradict their position.  The more controversial the topic, the more likely it is that one of the Garden Professors (especially) is very familiar with all the published research and can explain which studies were peer-reviewed and which not, which have been replicated and which thoroughly discredited. I know that double-blind studies are particularly credible, but details like that are rarely included in the popular reports of findings. Consulting with someone who knows how to read that stuff is really helpful.
  • Refrain from attempting to discredit all hort professors as biased because they get their funding from industry – supposedly.  Some do, and in some cases their research may be biased. But as for Linda and another of my favorite Garden Professors – Jeff Gillman – they're on straight salaries, with no industry funding in sight, so that slur can't possibly apply. Whether the subject is wood chips or compost tea or the evidence against Roundup, they don't have a dog in the fight.

Posted by on August 2, 2011 at 10:24 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.
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4 Responses to “The podcast of Linda Chalker-Scott – and why garden writers should consult with garden professors”

  1. Ray Eckhart says:

    I echo your enthusiasm for the Garden Professors. The Blog and its proprietors are excellent resources.

  2. Joe Lamp'l says:

    And you don’t have to wait till the Garden Writers Conference to hear Linda. Growing a Greener World premiers an episode showcasing Linda Chalker-Scott THIS Saturday on public television stations across the country. Here’s a link to the website and station finder: http://growingagreenerworld.com/. If you can’t find it on air, you can watch it online starting Sunday at the same website.
    Also, she was a guest on our podcast as well. She is a true professional and a credit to the industry. Here’s the podcast link: http://www.growingagreenerworld.com/030-ggw-dispelling-gardening-myths-pt-1-with-dr-linda-chalker-scott/

  3. Let the games begin! I for one can’t wait to see dirt mixed with water…………..or should we call it soil mixed with water…..humm, let’s ask a hort. professional, wait, I am one…………

  4. Geri Miller says:

    As a certified Master Garden and garden blogger myself, I whole-heartedly agree w/ Linda and the need for more garden writers to check their info w/ academics for accuracy. I see countless blogs inadvertently performing a disservice by spreading mis-information to gardeners seeking help.

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