Reflecting back on 10 years and 1,000 garden columns
Gardening columnist Don Kinzler writes, "Finding topics is easy. Horticulture isn’t just my line of work, it’s my hobby, my pastime, my life."
Well, friends, we did it! This weekend marks 10 years that we’ve been growing together, while publishing over 1,000 garden columns.
Our Growing Together column first hit newsstands Saturday, March 30, 2013. It was Easter weekend, and besides introducing the new weekly column, we naturally discussed lilies.
An additional column, Fielding Questions, followed a few months later, featuring questions sent by readers. If someone had a gardening question, others might also find it interesting or helpful, and the column was born.
With the two columns combined, we haven’t missed a single week! To meet the weekly deadlines, it’s been like marriage vows: in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. I’ve even written and submitted my material from motel rooms vacationing in Quebec and Washington, D.C.
We’ve been through a lot together these past 10 years, and I’ve written about some of our own highs and lows. For example, six months after the column began, on an early October morning we were awakened to the smell of smoke and the sight of flames through our home’s attic roof.
Five fire trucks responding were able to confine the fire to the old home’s third floor, with about a third of the roof burned away. We spend the next nine months in an apartment while the fire damage was repaired.
In 2016 our home was found to be in the path of Fargo’s flood mitigation efforts, located near an in-town drainage coulee. Working with city leaders, our home, built in 1895, was moved to a neighborhood at Fargo’s southern edge.
Although the home’s relocation went well, it meant we left behind an established yard, gardens and landscape on which we had worked for 25 years. But it gave us the chance to start over with a clean planting slate and plenty of material for garden columns.
A hospital stay for hip replacement surgery resulted in gifts of houseplants. A column quickly followed about how to repot and care for plants received from illness or funerals.
When I started writing the column 10 years ago, I did so as a freelance writer. My wife and I had closed our garden center business of 25 years a few years prior, and I was missing the field of horticulture, which is why I pitched the idea of a garden column to Forum Editor Matt Von Pinnon.
Six years into the garden column, in 2019, a position opened with North Dakota State University as the Extension agent for horticulture in Cass County and I was fortunate to be hired. NDSU has always been near and dear, not only because that’s where I studied horticulture, but I was employed there after graduation in research and Extension. Here I am, 40 years later, right back where I started!
But what would happen to the garden columns with my new job? Thankfully, Forum Communications and NDSU Extension leadership felt the columns should continue. Instead of being a freelance writer, I now write the columns as part of my NDSU Extension responsibilities.
Finding topics is easy. Horticulture isn’t just my line of work, it’s my hobby, my pastime, my life. I often write about things happening in our own yard and garden. When voles are attacking my lawn, they might be attacking yours as well.
Each week an amazing Forum photographer, either Dave Samson or Mike Vosburg, meet with me for a photo shoot to accompany the column. Most of the photos are taken in our own yard or garden.
I’m thankful for the past 10 years. Thank you, readers, for allowing me to garden with you. Thank you, Forum Communications, for publishing what I write. Thank you, NDSU, for recognizing garden columns as an effective means of information outreach.
Most of all, thanks to my wife, Mary, for her incredible patience as I’m typing away in the wee hours of the morning to meet a deadline, or while working on vacation. Mary always has a smile, even while waiting for me to pick the last of the string beans before we head out on a road trip.
I have no plans to retire anytime soon. Here’s to another 10 years of growing together and another 1,000 columns!