The internet is full of information about gardening. As we settle into winter, here are some ways to make the most of it.

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I’m old enough to remember when a gardening newsletter was a real newsletter, one that came in the mail and was printed on paper. There was a lot. I still have several copies of my favorite, “The Avant Gardener”. I’m reviewing the others I received, but they were the highlights of the days they arrived. Alas, like so many beautiful things, they succumbed to the internet.

What has replaced those simple newsletters is a sometimes confusing combination of blogs, internet newsletters, websites that list searchable resources, and weekly messages straight to your inbox.

I have mixed feelings about internet replacements for these mailed bulletins. For one thing, most of them are free and do we not know what “free” means when it comes to the internet. On the other hand, the old newsletters were very organized with well-respected editors who put their names and necks on the line. advertisements disguised as gardening information.

But it is what it is, and the days of snail mail newsletters are gone forever. It’s time to move on and learn how to get the most out of substitutions. I’m sure the younger gardeners among us, those who may never have seen a paper newsletter, are adept at surfing the internet to find the gardening information they need. Some of us aren’t quite there yet and just need a little help wrapping our horticultural heads around the shift from paper to electrons.

Let’s start with coldclimategardening.com. This is a great example of what I call a comprehensive information site. This one is based in upstate New York, which I know is very cold with long winters, so I know the topic will be helpful. ‘Editor-in-Chief’ Kathy Purdy is well known for her blog and writing about the garden. You simply migrate to these types of sites from time to time to see what has been added or most allow the gardener to sign up to receive notices of new posts. There are a ton of cold climate resources out there for New York gardeners, but many of them are applicable to us. In addition to her blog, there is a catalog section, a cooking section, and even book reviews.

Then there are the “heavily sponsored” sites that want to replace newsletters. While these are packed with articles and columns, ranging from horticultural trips to seed catalogs and plant deals, they are nonetheless sponsored. They have great pictures, helpful maps, and sometimes feature writers you know, but the products listed pay for the mention. I’m not saying they’re bad, mind you. You can find a lot of useful information on these sites. However, it’s like getting the Costco members’ magazine: you read it knowing full well that everything is on sale at the store and they’re making money off every deal. An example is gardenista.com (which I went to because “gardenista” only referred to followers of Heronswood Nursery). A few useful tips, but be on your guard.

Then there are the sites that are clearly commercial, but useful nonetheless. I work with Gardener’s Supply Company, which takes me to their site, gardeners.com, often. Sure, their business is selling gardening supplies, but there are all kinds of articles that explain how their products should be used to achieve a great garden. These types of websites don’t try to hide what’s going on. So, for example, check out the “Seed Starter Buying Guide” at Gardener’s to see what I mean. Beginners will find it extremely informative and useful. More advanced gardeners will recognize offers that will make their gardening efforts more efficient and easier (not to mention more successful).

And, finally, there are the newsletters that arrive by your email. These are often close to the old newsletter sent by post. A good example is the Garden Design Newsletter (gardendesign.com). It is a weekly newspaper and is geared towards “design inspiration”, although it also contains a great deal of gardening information. and that interest you. For example, “Dahlia newsletters” (result: sfdahlias.org/january-2021-newsletter/) or “Pink Newsletters (result: weeksroses.com).

Those of use who are a little older often need to adapt to new habits. Getting weekly tips emailed to you or sitting down and spending an hour or two each week googling for useful information has become part of winter gardening. Going to the mailbox is not.

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Jeff’s Alaskan Garden Calendar

Winter light shows, walks, ice sculptures: there’s a lot going on at the Alaska Botanical Garden this month. Check https://www.alaskabg.org for all the details and to make reservations. Membership, moreover, has its advantages.

Pelargoniums: If you overwintered yours, prune it now so it will bloom next month.

Amaryllis: If you’ve stored your own, take them out and water them, put them in the light and grow. Buy new ones.

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