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Podcasts like puttering in a garden in your head

There is a way to squeeze more gardening into your life. Podcasts.

Increasingly, during long drives, plane travel or even puttering around the house, we find ourselves tuned into them.

(For the uninitiated, podcasts are audio productions that can be downloaded to your phone and listened to anywhere. There is a wide variety of podcast genres, which typically have a host and follow the same theme each week or month.)

Some podcasts are adapted from radio shows, and others are stand-alone programs produced exclusively for digital media. In recent years, the quantity and quality of podcasts has grown and filled just about every niche: politics, humour, sports and — of course — gardening.

The beauty of podcasts is that you can listen to them anytime, often while doing something else. They are a terrific way to get a gardening fix when you are stuck on a train, out for a walk, or even get gardening in your head while gardening with your hands.

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Some of the podcasts we’ve been enjoying:

The Garden Show Podcast with Charlie Dobbin and Frank Proctor is produced for Zoomer Radio, in Toronto, and distributed as a podcast online. Dobbin is a landscape designer and horticulturalist, as well as being an author, columnist and broadcaster who’s also known for hosting One Garden, Two Looks on HGTV. Proctor is a career broadcaster, actor and children’s book author. The Garden Show has listeners call in with questions that are answered by the hosts and their expert guests. Each episode is typically 40-45 minutes. We love this podcast because it’s Canadian and the calls come in from around the world. It’s a terrific way to hear what other gardeners are curious about while staying current with gardening knowledge. Go to www.zoomerradio.ca/category/show/the-garden-show/

The Garden Show Podcast with Charlie Dobbin (shown) and Frank Proctor is produced for Zoomer Radio.
The Garden Show Podcast with Charlie Dobbin (shown) and Frank Proctor is produced for Zoomer Radio.   (Brandon Barre)

The Joe Gardener Show with Joe Lamp’l is produced as a podcast, and each week’s theme ranges from raised-bed gardening, to interviews with experts on subjects such as Japanese maples. Lamp’l is known in the U.S. for his gardening program on PBS, Growing a Greener World, and while some of his topics are not relevant to the Canadian growing environment, we really like his organic approach. Each episode is roughly an hour and is accompanied by in-depth written material on his website. Go to joegardener.com/podcasts/

Joe Lamp'l takes an organic approach to his podcasts.
Joe Lamp’l takes an organic approach to his podcasts.

In Defense of Plants with Matt Candeias is produced as a podcast for true plant nerds. Candeias told us that he started the podcast as an “attempt to cure plant blindness across the globe.” The show often features botanical expert guests and ranges from general houseplant talk to “Obscure Apocynaceae Appreciation” (ep. 145). Episodes run from 30 minutes to an hour. Go to www.indefenseofplants.com/podcast/

Matt Candeias started his podcast as "(his) attempt to cure plant blindness across the globe".
Matt Candeias started his podcast as “(his) attempt to cure plant blindness across the globe”.

The Fridge Light with Chris Nuttall-Smith is a CBC podcast that tells the “hidden stories of the things we eat.” While this is a food podcast and Nuttall-Smith is a food writer, there is a lot here to interest the average gardener — and the average listener. Episodes range from 30-45 minutes, and every time we listen, we learn something new. Go to www.cbc.ca/radio/podcasts/arts-culture/the-fridge-light/

We should confess that suggesting you listen to a podcast while gardening runs counter to Mark’s recommendation gardening should be experienced in its pure form: exposing your ears to bird song, your eyes to nature’s colours and your full self to the out-of-doors. But, then, Mark is not a millennial.

So consider doing one last thing indoors before heading outside for the spring: Load your phone with these entertaining, informative podcasts and keep gardening in your head no matter where you go.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster, tree advocate and holds the Order of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them at markcullen.com, @markcullengardening, on Facebook and bi-weekly on Global TV’s Morning Show.

TORONTO STAR