Veg-Gardening Show “Not in Current Strategy” for DIY Network


by Guest Ranter Joe Lamp’l


So I guess a how-to, home vegetable gardening
series isn’t appealing enough to rebroadcast this year…the year that growing
your own food is the hottest trend in gardening and a hot topic period. Never
mind that the series already exists…in the can…paid for…and prime fodder for a
hungry audience. A large audience mind you that is desperately seeking helpful
advice specifically on this topic (many for the first time) and trying to do
the right thing in a more local and sustainable world.

The series I refer to is Fresh from the Garden on
the DIY Network. I am well acquainted with this unique and informative series,
as I was its only host. It really was a brilliant concept. Each episode featured
one or two different vegetables while demonstrating everything you needed to
know to grow that particular plant, from seed to harvest in a single 30-minute
episode. Never before or after have I seen such a series. We completed 52
informative and comprehensive episodes, covering just about every vegetable you
could possibly grow over three years of taping the series around Atlanta,

Since the production wrap in late 2005, it has
aired every year since. That is until now. I had not seen anything on the DIY
Network website or program schedule touting it’s return for 2009. So I sent an
email to the VP of Programming. My inquiry was simple; “do you have plans to
air Fresh from the Garden this year” I asked? After not getting a reply to my
first inquiry, the response to my second inquiry was quick and to the point. “Thanks
Joe- to my knowledge, we will not be airing the show”.

Well that was a shock! I
had to know more and at the same time, state my case as to why of all years,
when finally this series is primed for a bigger and more eager audience than
ever, it wasn’t going to be out there. I replied to his response stating this
point and more. Again, the reply was quick and succinct; “Thanks Joe-I hear
you, but unfortunately, it doesn’t fit our current programming strategy”.

I passed the reply on to
my producer of that series, also eager to hear what they had to say. She was
not surprised. In her conversations with the DIY Network execs, they’re going
for a much more edgy style these days. I guess the ancient series I did with
them is so old style.

I needed to know more.
Just to see if I could get a little insight for myself right from the source, I
replied to this latest response with one last question; “could you briefly sum
up the current programming strategy for me? It would be very helpful (in my
role as gardening communicator) to have a sound bite from an authority so I’ll
be better equipped to answer when this question comes up again (as it does
often!)”. Not surprisingly, this time there was no reply.

It was an honest question.
What IS the programming strategy? If we can’t get an established network (part
of the HGTV, Food Network, Fine Living family) to rebroadcast a show that is
now more timely now than ever, on such an important and exploding topic and so
pertinent to their audience and for no additional production cost, then I’m not
holding out much hope for any new gardening shows any time soon folks. Either
they’re not getting sponsors (very likely) or the execs that decide what makes
it on the air, don’t see that gardening is important enough to get the
coverage. Am I wrong here? I hope not but until someone tells me otherwise,
(and I welcome a response from DIY or any network) I’ll stand my ground on this

What do you think? Is gardening,
and vegetable gardening specifically, off the radar for “programming strategy”
or is it just the lack of edginess and excitement of a four-year-old series? I
don’t mind passing the baton to the 20 something hipster host, but is that all
it’s about anymore? Seriously!

About the photo:  It happens to be the garden I started from scratch from bare ground just four
months before this pic was taken and is also the very garden where we shot the
last year of our series, Fresh from the Garden on DIY Network. It may look large
but it is only 40 x 60 feet. I’ve had so many great emails and comments from
viewers telling me how much they learned and enjoyed series. It’s a shame I have
to let them know it won’t be coming back on this year!


  1. Very disappointing Joe! Of all the years to broadcast, this is it.

    Obviously, the execs who make the decisions are not gardeners. They see no value in it. (Ironic that the people who make programing decisions don’t have a clue about the material they broadcast.)They look at everything from a business standpoint, which I understand. But sadly they don’t have a clue about what is happening right now and not one of them would do the research to see the new trend that is emerging.

    That is why the GWA webseminar was so great the other day. It gave us the hard numbers about this trend. It armed us with statistics so that we can SHOW the non-gardening world what is happening.

    Unfortunately, the TV execs won’t “get” it for a few more years – Not until they start to see the veggie gardens in everyone’s front yards.They don’t know the new stats/trends. We as garden writers and communicators need to spread the word about what is happening so that the business world/TV/Radio can catch up and fund the right projects.

    I have a similar problem with my newspaper column. It is locally syndicated in four Los Angeles newspapers, but it is the first column dropped if they get tight on space. Why? Because the editor (although very nice) is not a gardener. She sees no value in it. She is not aware of the new trends.

    We need to spread the word so these people get a clue!

  2. I would suspect that lack of sponsor support is the most likely reason–an exec would need a pretty good excuse for not using material that’s bought and paid for. In the 4th qtr last year, when DIY was (probably) trying to firm up advertiser contracts, the meltdown was just starting, and businesses naturally pulled back.

  3. HGTV deserves some of the blame for the current economic status as a country. Their insistence on programming that focused on bigger homes, second (or third) homes, ludicrous “dream” homes and flipping homes helped to legitimize the burden of poorly-financed, ill-conceived properties. You can see that they re retrenching with the new ads about DIY in the “new” times. They have yet to recognize the role of gardening in all of that. It doesn’t matter whether its your show or Crockett’s old Victory Garden, they need to do much more to help change the conversation. They can run old TOH shows forever – old gardening shows are just as good.

  4. I just checked out the DIY network website and it lists your show as airing at 4am March 30, April 6, April 13, April 20 and April 27 – all at 4am Eastern. Perhaps they have added these shows in response to your (and other’s) queries. I am going to be setting my VCR (still too cheap for dvr or tivo). Your garden looks gorgeous, and I can’t wait to watch your show.

  5. The program strategy—as a former commercial news reporter—is to sell commercial time. If businesses are buying commercial time, networks create shows that businesses will buy time in—not necessarily something that people really want to see.

    Just my cynical .02 for the day

  6. that should have read

    ” If businesses are NOT buying commercial time, networks create shows that businesses will buy time in—not necessarily something that people really want to see.

    Just my cynical .02 for the day”

  7. Since I wrote that rant just the other day, new information has been released by the National Gardening Association adding some teeth to substantiate this new boom in growing your own. On Wednesday, they released the findings from their GWA survey results. Some of the highlights include:

    34.5% of households that garden stated their number one gardening related spending priority for 2009 is Fruit & Vegetable plants! That is an increase of 43.8% over 2008 and a 130% increase over 2006!!! I see a trend here!. For the first time in the past 6 years of data collection, fruits and vegetables have exceeded Lawn & Grass as the #1 spending priority by 5.5%!!!

    And new numbers will come out from our GWA survey that is even more positive regarding these numbers. Those will be released shortly. If you want to see the rest of the NGA survey highlights, it’s my current blog post. Thanks.

  8. quick correction to the above…the latest public data is all from NGA (Nat’l Gardening Assoc), not GWA (Garden Writers Assoc). Those will be out shortly but nothing public yet.

  9. Not right, just not right at all! I will promise to inundate this station with emails demanding to put your show on! Is there no other station – PBS perhaps – that could pick it up? Shame on them! K

  10. Regardless of what garden communicators and those in our industry are aware of, I think the non-appearance of Joe’s program has a lot to do with what network execs must consider as their #1 priority: entertainment value. Joe Lamp’l hit on that in a post here some time back when he mentioned something about the appeal of a young sexy host or hostess.

    And I’m sure we all realize the major effect of Web communication. Information on everything is available everywhere anytime.

    Lastly, I think there’s a gardening paradigm shift that ties in with the increase in technology and this “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” planet.

  11. I’ve never heard of the DIY Network. Your show sounds great though – PBS broadcast would certainly provide a larger audience.

  12. Often what happens is the ‘trendsetters’ in their need to be ‘edgy’ miss what’s really new right in front of them. The grow your own movement is probably viewed by the DYI network as another indication of the ‘drab’ economy and therefore not escapist enough to be entertaining. Think about the films people flocked to in the Great Depression…that’s the type of programming strategy they are mired in.

  13. The GWA webinar/teleconference the other day was terrific – and I can say that in my own area there has been a lot of interest in gardening from people who have not had a vegetable garden before. Fortunately for me, my editor at The Recorder has been very responsive and my column will regularly be slanted to new vegetable gardeners.

  14. I just learned about this series from this post. After being laid off last August, I now have the time and drive to fix up the yard to have a vegetable garden this year. Now when I have the time to watch T.V. to learn about vegetable gardening, the series won’t be on? Man, I feel cheated! A few years back, I probably could have learned, before I did it, why you shouldn’t grow corn and sunflower seeds in the same bed. I took a gardening friend to explain to me why I didn’t even get one ear of corn from that crop. Yes, DIY is not keeping their ear to the ground and are trying to do something different (even though it may be a wrong stab in the dark) in hopes of garnering more audience, and therefore more advertising dollars from their sponsors. It sucks and hopefully they will wise up.

  15. A question. How possible is it for a PBS station to get your show for broadcast. I don’t get cable and I’d love to see it. PBS comes in great! And it might be a different audience.

  16. Hey Joe,
    You ARE sexy! And entertaining, and knowledgeable, so that can’t be the reason your show is not going to air this year. Unfortunately, garden programing is not a priority for these networks.

    Sorry to hear about the show- I will be in contact with you.

  17. It’s possible but not likely. DIY is very protective of their assets but if they’re just sitting on the shelf, what good is it? Unfortunately, PBS is not likely to fork over the money DIY would want to syndicate or license the series to PBS. But, I’ll see what I can find out about this and report back when (rather IF) I hear back from DIY.

  18. Joe,

    I think that, like others said, they jumped so hard on the bandwagon of debt to get more that we can’t really be surprised at a continuing lack of realistic choices for programming.

    Unfortunately, I never saw the series, but had just recently heard of it and was told, “dont worry, they show it every year so you can see it”. Hmm..guess not!

    Those people in suits who are still springing for bottle service and lap dances really don’t have a clue about what DIY really is for us out there. Hopefully, enough folks will respond to help correct their executive viewpoint.

    And yes, I’m so drooling over that garden I need to change my blouse. Can you post more of that lovely “garden porn” with details on everything you did and what all everything is made of and… get the idea. Pretty please?

  19. I think it’s a crime that all of the Gardening Shows have been pushed to the wayside. Paul James (“My Hero!”) has been moved to the utterly ridiculous 4am PST timeslot (and yes, I record it!). But at the same time, I do agree that it’s probably got more to do with $pon$or$hip than “What people want to see” (which bites!).

    I would think, though, that with this “New Trend” in Vegetable Gardening, maybe this could be a “growth industry” (pardon the pun!) for manufacturers of gardening gadgets and organic fertilizers, etc. You really don’t see a lot of adverts on TV for stuff like that (Interestingly, when Paul James shows off any cool new gizmos on his show, the manufacturer names are blacked-out – again, pointing to the idea of “lack of sponsorship”).

    So, the manufacturers either don’t have the budgets to support sponsorship of DIY/HGTV Gardening Shows – orrrrr HGTV/DIY/Etc just doesn’t appeal to them.

    (Probably because they’re not viewed as “Garden” networks – at all!)

    I don’t like it, but I think that whole theory has some merit…

    * * *
    Plus, the networks seem to aim to the young home-owner demographic – and there actually might be a bit of a “perception issue” about Veggie Gardening. Like it’s “Something that Grandma did.” I know when I first got back into it, I had the “Old ladies in Sensible Shoes and Big Floppy Hats” visual – and was almost hesitant to admit to colleagues that I was “into” gardening!

    Maybe it *is* time for a Young/Hip (I’m rolling my eyes as I type this, BTW!) Host with perfect teeth, perfect hair and dirty fingernails who can lead the way for the “Next Generation of Gardeners” – AND appeal to the Networks and Advertisers…


    Not sure what the answer is – but I really do wish there were more Gardening Shows!

  20. I am sorry to hear that the show will not be on DIY Network, is there an online home for “Fresh from the Garden”? If not, this would be a great time to archive the shows on youtube or an equivalent. Most online video sites have a High Quality option nowadays, so besides getting to view on your own schedule, you can get near-TV quality, along with the ability to jump forward or back on command.

    There is definitely a market for this show, if DIY’s ad department can sell it or not. Hope to see new episodes soon!

  21. Every local independent nurseryman I’ve talked to in Austin has told me that fruit, veggie, and herb sales are way up…2 to 5 times more than typical. Although I’ve always had a few vegetables and herbs in my garden, I’ve also felt a renewed interest in growing my own this year. I’ve been digging through old books that I haven’t reread in years. I’m hungry for information and I bet a lot of other people are too.

  22. Do you have any rights to the shows? Can the segments be repackaged for on-line viewing?

    There are so many how-to sites desperate for content. Baby doll you’ve got content. Don’t let it go to waste.

    Good luck.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  23. HGTV used to be my favorite tv channel, hands down, but over the past couple years their emphasis on unbelievable and unsustainable makeovers has really turned me off. I tape the Paul James show and watch nothing else. I’ve got to believe they’ve gone Hollywood and think that gardening is what you pay the mow and blow guys to do.

  24. Content is second to profits.
    If other ‘program strategies’ bring in higher revenue numbers than they take the cake.

    Unfortunately I think the men in black suits haven’t done all their market research and economic forecasting on this one and have made an uniformed choice.

    The home building industry is down, ( or rather succinctly it has crashed landed ) People are not spending money or their time redecorating and improving their homes the way they did during good economic times.
    Simply market evaluation tells the story that paint sales are down and so are the basic home improvement industry stocks.

    But what market research has shown is that there is a rise in vegetable seeds and the related materials to planting a vegetable garden. Many people are doing this for the first times in their lives and would greatly benefit from an educational entertainment show.

    Another poor business mistake that will cost the share holders money because the men in black suits did not adequately do proper market research and forecasting.’

  25. What about Netflix? When we did our “digital upgrade” and bought a digital HDTV, we passed up the expensive HD cable option and bought a $100 box that allows us to stream movies and TV shows using the Watch It Now feature of a $14/month Netflix subscription. I just couldn’t wrap my head around shelling out $1,200 a year for TV… that’s a trip to Mexico, baby! I would love to watch your show… either on Netflix or PBS. Good luck!

  26. Forests???? Trees????

    The timing sucks in so many ways. Right about the time that the economy sinks low enough that John Q. Public considers switching turf for t’maters, the standard avenues for gardening information dry up, shift gears or disappear completely. The same time that people are eager to learn, the bad economy has yanked the teacher out of the classroom.

    The suits and ties will tell you that without sponsors there is no incentive to develop a program – be it a section in the local newspaper or a show on television or the internet. The gardening industry has got to step out in front and contribute $$$, otherwise things will not change. Once again that nagging/sagging economy slams on the brakes.

    John Q. will buy his seeds at a big box retailer and will probably get his gardening information there also… it sucks in so many ways.

  27. Well seriously, how can I NOT respond such such a request! Absolutely I’ll do that. Give me a day or too to compile the details and pics and I’ll pass that back through Rant, so keep your eyes peeled and wear a raincoat cause I’m sending along more drool worthy pics of the garden!

  28. Sorry, Joe, your show sounds great. And organizing information by vegetable is incredibly useful–that was always my favorite thing about Barbara Damrosch’s Garden Primer.

    My husband says the big problem is that vegetable gardeners just don’t spend a lot of money. As a group, we are more interested in cooking a beautiful meal than buying a new car or expensive kitchen cabinets.

    So we’re not a target market for any advertiser except, who, MooDoo?

    We’re anti-corporate by definition. So who would want us as an audience?

  29. Joe, I’m sorry to hear. Unfortunately, sponsorship is king. I think the timing is off though. Unless they know something we don’t, unemployment is rising everyday. As such, more and more people have time on their hands and they are staying close to home. Putting in gardens is one activity they can and will turn to. I think one of the problems is that veggie gardeners don’t tend to spend the money; they are not consumers of mega gardening goods, except maybe fencing like your lovely garden featured at the beginning of the post. There’s not much to buy. Honestly, this is one of the great things about it – so little is required and trading up is non-existing.

  30. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my entire life. Seriously, if there was ever a misjudgment of target market appeal, this is it! Not in their programming strategy?

    All I can say is that the marketing folks who thought that THIS would be a good year NOT to have a veggie gardening show should be the ones who are canceled.

    Sorry Joe…
    Jean Ann (@jeanannvk)

  31. Joe,

    The worst of news for you, I know, and for all of us who could benefit from the show.

    Perhaps, if you have the time and energy, and lots of help from associates, you could develop a new “series” that would be broadcast entirely on the web.

    This could even be ‘pay per view’, a subscription website or other income model. And you or your company would retain all rights – additions, revisions, re-broadcasts would be fairly simple.

    A lot of work, I imagine…but perhaps worth it considering that more and more folks will be needing this information.

    Unfortunately, because of reasons so well stated above, your original efforts may be unavailable to the world for quite some time.

    Best of luck, Joe. Keep up the good work.

  32. Interestingly, I was thinking about this very thing today as I wrote. I’ve been watching some British gardening shows as eye candy while I wait for spring. I was also doing some research. I listened to the teleconference the other day, and it does appear people are thinking about growing food again. I’m sorry, Joe. I don’t have much hope for HGTV or DIY. They might as well be the remodeling channels, and that’s it. As Charlie Brown would say “Good grief.”

    I would suggest they let you do a new show on vegetable gardening which can be very beautiful, edgy and sexy. What do they think all those birds and bees are up to anyway?~~Dee

  33. “edgey” is the magic word. There are two other DIY series (nothing to do with gardening) that they also are not airing because of the old-style format.

    A friend of mine in the biz told me “It isn’t what you do, it is how you look not doing it”. She was referring to all that endless chatter that catches up every moment of every program after every interminable commercial break.

  34. I’ve long wondered why it was called “Home & Garden TV” when there was precious little ‘garden’ to the programming. “DIY” ? Not if you mean growing tasty veggies ! Now there will be less ? For shame !

    I never got to see your show here ( no DIY, just HGTV – and that only recently ), but it sounds like something I would’ve been glued to, start to finish.

  35. I have been emailing DIY/HGTV letting them know what a poor choice not to air FFTG is. I gave them my opinion on economic struggles for families. Vegetable gardening will not only save a few dollars on the grocery bill but will bring some families closer by just having a common plot of ground to work. Getting kids involved and out from in front of TV & video games.
    Personally I think the “G” from HGTV should be removed for lack of quality gardening shows.
    They did respond to me w/ an list of gardening shows that come on. One was Gardening By The Yard, the other A Gardeners Diary. Neither touch FFTG as far as to the point info in just 30 mins.
    I was once told a squeaky wheel gets the grease. I guess it’s time for all of us FFTG lovers to be as squeaky as we can and annoy the higher ups until we get the oil we need. Make those calls & send those emails !

  36. I’m going to drop PBS an email. Maybe they would like to air FFTG.
    Anyone care to join me in my efforts?
    Maybe Oprah, or Paula Deen can get through to some of these knuckle heads.

  37. Marsha, you’re on! I’m a newbie veg-grower and need the help, bad. Bring back the Joe or I’ll have to hire gardening coach.

    And Joe, thanks for ranting with us, and since people want to see more of that garden, send me the photos and I’ll post ’em. Very inspiring.

  38. I’d like to see Amy and Susan and master gardeners showing off gardens. Maybe a Garden Idol show off. Hot garden ladies or anyone that digs it.

  39. I think Marsh is on to something… let’s get Joe on the Oprah show to talk about vegetable gardening, have her wield a trowel for about five minutes to plant a tomato plant or two, and then talk about his show and how she wishes it were still showing… at that point MILLIONS of Oprah-viewers will want to plant vegetable gardens and before we know it Oprah herself will put that show back on TV! Maybe on a station that more of us get (I don’t get DIY).

    In fact, Joe can be joined by the Ranters for an Oprah show that could ROCK the gardening world.

    Yes, let’s all write Oprah!

  40. Joe:
    I do not get DIY so have not seen the show. Have you considered a DVD series of the show.

    That was done with people places & plants
    “The Gardening Show”

    Its available in a 5 DVD set and I think Amazon is still showing it available.


  41. I could not agree with you more. Vegetable gardening is hot! I have been saying this for years: When will there be a GARDENING channel??? I am so tired of the HGTV / DYI “fix your house you can’t sell” shows.

    Hard times are coming. An with that, back to basics are too. Growing vegetables is smart, productive and better for your health. The young hipsters are all into being eco-friendly. You would think that advertisers would recognize this coming trend?

    Many young people are afraid to try gardening, because they do not know how. It seems complicated, time-consuming and yes, there are bugs! What they need is instruction provided in a format that they can relate to. Videos!!! Step-by-step guides. That is why we love

  42. You Tube on Joe’s blog or find a sponsor to buy air time.

    The G is out of HGTV…I was on Season 13 episodes of Paul James’ show. I miss him (airs too early for me). He’s a panic!

    Hey NGA! What what garden company has the bucks for taping us Ranter’s veggie gardens this season?

  43. I wish it was that easy but unfortunately, HGTV might as well take the “G” out of their name. They too have no interest in “Gardening” shows these days. And, they’re all part of the same owners; Scripps Howard owns HGTV, DIY, Food Network & Fine Living.

  44. Honestly Dan, this looks like the best path to ensure that quality gardening programs ARE available on demand to viewers around the world. I’m on it, so stay tuned…(one tiny problem though…the quality I want to put out there also takes time and money. And suddenly I’m facing the same issues as DIY & the rest; where does the funding / sponsorship money come from???

  45. Carol, I think I love you. Brilliant idea. Anyone know “O”? It’s a tough nut to crack and she’s not a gardener but it is a story that needs to be told. It’s the story that will bet her producer’s attention. I’ll clear my schedule!

  46. DIY owns all the rights. they put ONE show on Amazon and I have no idea how it did. Guess not so well if it was only one! I may have to remake the series myself, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

  47. I so agree with what has been said – programme makers don’t care about the viewers just about gaining points with their bosses. We gardeners are not such a minority and at least we are creative and help the economy and teach our children sound values. I cannot for the life of me imagine why there are so many cop/forensics programmes which only give a false sense of the world, when gardening airs for so little time. What does “edgy” mean – shears, loppers, secateurs, a spiky fork?

  48. Yes, funding and sponsorship is certainly a major issue and needs to be pursued.

    In addition…along with major communication advances brought on by the web are technological advances allowing you and I to create professional video output.

    Don’t take the video at my site as an example, but if I had the outgoing ‘persona’ (like you), the hardware and software tools I possess (at moderate expense) could surely be used to create video that would equal what is seen on HGTV.

    There is incredible talent these days among amateur videographers – see and other sites.

    As an adjunct to centralized video production, perhaps a garden video cooperative could be created, offering advice and techniques from many regions through submissions with an acceptable minimum video quality.

    Garden power to the people! 🙂

  49. Sigh.
    Joe, that sucks.

    Please focus on a web presence for your show. I say let’s take things into our on hands – if the magazine publishers and television execs and ad people won’t listen, EFF THEM!

    The internet is nothing if not democratic … your show and its info can be accessed by everyone. You will probably have a bigger viewership here than on DIY. Is it a money issue? Do you get residual payments if the network re-runs your show? If so, I understand why you’d want to fight for a cable presence, but if it is a matter of getting the info out to the people who can really use it, upload it onto YouTube and let her rip!

    And i think you are very sexy…

  50. I thought I posted this comment yesterday but it is not here.

    Joe: We do not get DIY so I have not seen the show. Would it be possible to put the series on DVD.

    people places & plants “The Garden Show” did that and the have a 5 DVD set. I think it is still available at Amazon.


  51. Is it available on DVD? If it was just one year, regular viewers might get tired of seeing it, but the DVD audience is potentially limitless (overseas and every year as new gardeners step up to the table)

  52. Hi John. Thought I replied too. In 3 years of taping 52 shows, they put out a whopping ONE episode that is downloadable on Amazon. Maybe now they might consider that more but up to this point, nothing. I’ll update if I learn more about this.

  53. Hi Jenn. Not available on DVD but maybe now, they’ll consider. One way of the other, I’ll get updated and even better content out there that anyone can access. Thanks.

  54. It is funny, I have been writing DIY and HGTV, and asking my friends to do the same. I have been asking for more gardening shows, and using “Fresh from the Garden” as the example of the type of show I have been talking about.

  55. Joe – It was good chatting and seeing you in Philly on Wednesday.

    Good luck getting veggie gardening a higher profile on national TV. From what I know of HGTV programming strategy it is to aim at the 20-30 somethings who acquiring new (to them) homes – that is where they see the money.

    They are wrong and they are way behind trend. I think it is past the time for a straight-up all Gardening Cable Channel to itself.

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