Welcome to our new home!

This month, the Garden Professors have moved to a new website. You can still easily find us at gardenprofessors.com (bookmark that address!), but we’re no longer actively posting on the eXtension website. This change was necessitated by eXtension’s decision to restrict leadership to faculty belonging to premium universities (those paying a sizable annual membership fee). Since neither Dr. Gillman nor Dr. Chalker-Scott belongs to a premium university, and since both are founding members of the Garden Professors, we made a group decision to host our blog independently.

We’ve been working on this transition for a number of months, which is partially why we haven’t been posting as often as we’d like. Along with our new space we’ve added some new members: Dr. Laura Jull (University of Wisconsin), Joseph Tychonievich, and Raymond Eckhart will be joining us as regular bloggers. We’ll be adding blurbs on each of these new members in our “Who We Are” section.

Ideally we’ll be posting on a daily basis, meaning more consistent posts for you. We’ll also be including posts from guest bloggers (our “visiting professors”). And you can also visit us on Facebook, where we have both a page and a group. The group is a great place for you to ask questions or start discussions on topics that aren’t in our archives.

We look forward to bringing you more good science-based gardening information in our own unique ways. Thanks for sticking with us!

IMG_7778The original Fab Four

Your feedback needed!

If you value what we do, please take a few minutes to fill out the survey linked below. We’ll leave this open for the month of January but will need to close it then so we can analyze and use our results. Feel free to share this with other gardening aficionados.
Thanks in advance for your interest and support!


California Flower, Food and Garden Show

I’m giving two talks at the California Flower, Food and Garden Show in Sacramento today and tomorrow: details are linked here. It would be great to meet some of our California readers in person if you plan on being there.

I’ll try to take some photos and share my thoughts about the show on upcoming posts. Maybe I’ll even find my Friday quiz topic lurking there!

Breaking up Tree Week with an Important Announcement! (Or Not — depending on how you feel about shameless plugs)

OK, here it is, my one and only shameless plug — because my publisher says: Hey! You need to at least let people know that the book exists!

So — I’m excited to say that my next book, How The Government Got In Your Backyard, which I co-wrote with my good friend (and old college roommate) Eric Heberlig, who is an Associate Professor of Political Science at UNC Charlotte, is finally out.

In case it isn’t immediately obvious, I love to write. This is my fourth book — and in many ways I think it’s my best.  In it Eric and I look at the science and politics behind a number of environmental issues — everything from Plant Patents and Illegal Plants (think marijuana) to Organic Food, Global Warming and Biotechnology.  We look at the political right and left, investigate the science behind what they believe, and try to give unbiased opinions.  Some people have already let us know that we’re wrong!  (Which we find amusing — but that’s another story).

What we don’t try to do in this book is make up your mind for you — that’s your job based on your priorities.

Blog Survey Results, Part 1

I was gently reminded last week that I never published the results of our survey, asking our readers for feedback on the first full year of posting on The Garden Professors. All four of us are extremely grateful to those of you that participated, as we could use this information in our annual reporting and reviews.  Thank you all for taking the time.

To keep this from being too long for our blog, I’m going to just cover the first two questions today.  I’ll continue with this next week, where we’ll consider possible improvements to content and structure.

On the date we ran our analysis, 119 people had responded (the final number was 140).

Reason for reading

Science based information: 107 (90.0%)
Interesting and relevant topics: 101 (84.9%)
Ability to engage bloggers in Q&A: 39 (32.8%)
Usefulness as a CE resource: 75 (63.0%)
Entertaining approach: 78 (65.5%)

Some of the other reasons (you sent us lots!) included:

  • Friday quiz/mystery photos
  • Trusted source of information
  • Balanced and intelligent content
  • Diverse subjects
  • Ability to get feedback
  • Smart, funny, well-written, and challenging
  • Fun science fix

Behavior changes attributed to information on blog

Reduce use of chemicals, including fertilizers and pesticides: 52 (43.7%)
Reduced use of potentially invasive species: 40 (33.6%)
Improved ability to protect soil, including reducing erosion: 47 (39.5%)

Some of the other reasons included:

  • Stopped promulgating horticulture myths
  • Reduced use of peat moss
  • Improved ability to plant trees and shrubs
  • Improved ability to educate others
  • Improved ability to diagnose plant problems
  • More informed decision making about plant selection, gardening methods
  • Less work using better practices

[Sadly for some of you, I did not include the snide personal comments (about me) from trolls, irrationalists and/or the disgruntled. And to be honest, there were only 1 or 2 of these. But if you’re one of this little group, feel free to send your thoughts on to my supervisors! You’ll need to include your actual name and contact information, however, if you want your comments to be taken seriously.]

Annual reporting – and you can help!

As many of you know, we Garden Professors justify our existence as faculty members every year through annual reporting.  Blogging is one of the newer educational opportunities that most university systems haven’t quite figured out how to measure and evaluate.

So we’re taking matters into our own hands. I’ve created a short survey to assess our effectiveness in outreach education in the blogosphere. 

The more feedback we get, the easier it is for us to make the case for continuing this effort.  (And feel free to suggest other questions or metrics we should include.  This is a first attempt on my part to create this feedback tool.)

Thank you all for a great year!

Happy Holidays!

Relaxing at the in-laws in Ohio for the long Christmas weekend.  Hope all of our blog readers are having a enjoyable holidays.  In other words, I hope you didn’t have to fly anywhere over this Christmas weekend!

I’ve been catching up on some reading including recent articles on invasive alien plants that should be of interest to our readers.  I’ll share some thoughts when I get back on schedule next week.  In the meantime there’s still another football game to watch this evening and another plate of my mother-in-law’s cookies that need some attention.

Have a safe and happy New Year!