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Plump ears of sweet corn, rows of sweet, juicy watermelons and a bounty of other fresh vegetables straight from the garden is Walt Reichert’s idea of living the good life.
Now he is sharing his lifelong knowledge of gardening with the world in his newly published book, Walt’s Wisdom, a Cornucopia of Gardening Miscellany.
Reichert, horticulture technician at the Shelby County Cooperative Extension office, as well as a former college English teacher and journalist and editor at The Sentinel-News, has complied 83 of his 130 columns about gardening that were published in Kentucky Monthly Magazine over the past 13 years for the book.
He says his book, published two weeks ago, is just a down to earth book filled with gardening advice, great photos and even spotlights local gardens of note around the community and the state.
“It's not scientific – it's an easy read – it's meant for home gardeners; it's not meant for horticulture people or scientists or anything like that,” he said.
“I kind of updated them [columns] and added more information to each one,” he said. “They're divided up by seasons, so it starts with spring, summer, fall and winter. It's mostly gardening advice, but there's some profiles. There's a profile of Jeneen Wiche's garden, there's a profile of Bernheim Forest, John Carloftis.
The latter is a well-known gardener and author who owns gardening stores in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
Rachelle Sharar, county program and administrative assistant at the Shelby County Cooperative Extension office, said that many of the staff there are reading Reichert’s book and enjoying.
“It’s very humorous; it’s written in short exerts so that it’s easy to read and it’s written on a level that makes it easy to understand,” she said.
Anyone who knows Reichert already appreciates his humor, a facet of his personality that shines through as he talks about his lifelong love of gardening.
“I was going out and helping in the garden when I was three or four years old, so we're talking like, a long time, like over 50 years,” he said with a chuckle.
“Even when I was a kid, I would have a little patch, I loved to grow watermelon, still do. I've always had a vegetable garden, and I used to be fanatical about trying to raise as much food as possible, and I still have a garden that's way bigger than I want to have.”
He added, straight-faced, “If I have to go to the grocery store once in a while, I don't get upset about it now, but I used to try to grow as much as possible when the kids were small.”
Reichert also doles out advice about flowers and other plants in his book, but admits that his flower garden at home is not a showcase.
“I have a lot of folks that give me stuff and I just find a place for it, so it's not a nice Better Homes and Gardens typeof garden; sometimes there's a few weeds in there, but that's OK.”
Reichert, a Shelby County resident of 13 years, lives in Simpsonville with his wife, Mary Lou, where he operates a small farm.
And like gardening, writing has always been in his blood.
“I've been writing about gardening since the late seventies, and I've done garden columns for a magazine in Dayton,” he said. “I've done a lot of freelance gardening stuff, and of course, when I was at The Sentinel, I did it every chance I got.”
Carolyn Brenner, who has been a master gardener since 2002, said Reichert’s enthusiasm for gardening fuels that of other local gardeners.
“It’s an adventure to see what you can create; it’s a thrill to have dinner and serve something that you raised yourself,” she said. “We have about forty members in our organization. He [Reichert] teaches the classes and he’s our extension advisor. He’s a wonderful person; I just adore him.”
She added that she is looking forward to reading his book.
“I think it will be very helpful; he has an amazing amount of knowledge and wisdom about gardening,” she said.
Reichert said the book is available for $20 from Kentucky Monthly Magazine or people can buy it directly from him by contacting him at 722-2951 or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He said he is also looking for some local businesses that might be interesting in carrying the publication for sale.
What:Book signings for Walt’s Wisdom
When:July 17 and 26
Where:Yudell Gardens, Crestwood, July 17, 5-8 p.m.; Downtown Street Concert, Shelbyville, July 26, 4-8:30 p.m.
To buy the book:Contact Walt Reichert at email@example.com 722-2951