What Nobody Ever Told You About Martha Knows Best

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Famous for gardening tips, DIY home decor, and a little run-in with the law, Martha Stewart has been a household name for decades. According to The New York Times, Martha maintains her status as the queen of all things home and gardening by only sleeping four to five hours each night, significantly less than the recommended minimum of seven to eight hours. Hey, running an empire takes a lot of work and little shut-eye. 

Martha has tried her hands at many projects over the years, like candle making, apple picking, and, yes, famously even insider trading in 2001 (via History). Nowadays, she is most famous for her sprawling estate in upstate New York, also known as Cantitoe Corners (via Wide Open Country). In 2020, Martha embarked on her newest venture, a new home and garden show called "Martha Knows Best," After decades in the business, plenty of fans are willing to believe that she really does. However, just like with any show, the real story lies in what is happening behind the scenes.

Host Martha Stewart was is her late 70s when filming started

Many viewers of "Martha Knows Best" are shocked when they find out just how old the host Martha Stewart really is. We aren't sure if she's been blessed with great genetics, or maybe just has a great skincare routine, but Martha was in her late 70s when the show began filming. According to Woman & Home, Martha used to be a model, which is why she likely still looks so great.

Stewart was born as Martha Kostyra to Polish immigrants Edward and Martha Kostyra on August 3, 1941, in New Jersey. When she was 15, she signed a contract with the Ford modeling agency and began working in television commercials and print magazines for several big-name clients, including Chanel. She was paid at least $50 an hour, which was quite a lot in the 1950s, so she used her pay to fund her education at Barnard College in New York City.

The show highlights Stewart's unique connection to her farm's animals

In just the first episode alone, Martha is seen "speaking" to her various birds in their own languages. According to USA Today, Martha reports a close relationship with all the living creatures that call her property home. "I always talk to my chickens," she said. "They currently don't have names, but they used to have very interesting monikers. I used to have names like 'Chicken Wings,' 'Chicken Stew,' but I just say, 'Hi.'"

In addition to chickens, Martha has horses and even peacocks living on her farm currently. Her home doesn't feel quite right without a large collection of furry and feathered friends to share it with her. Over the years, Martha has had many animal companions, including 20 cats, 25 dogs, 10 chinchillas, and canaries. She also had many sheep and goats over the years, and hundreds of geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, and even homing pigeons (via Martha Stewart).

Head Gardener Ryan McCallister has actually worked for Martha since 2011

Fans of "Martha Knows Best" have become attached to Kevin due to his bright personality, knowledge of gardening, and overall fun demeanor. However, you might be surprised to learn that Kevin has actually been Martha's right-hand man for years and isn't a new hire for the sake of the show. In fact, he's actually been working for her since 2011, as he was well known on her YouTube channel before the show began airing, as per Yahoo! News.

One of Ryan's most popular appearances on the channel is a 2014 video in which he teaches viewers how to ensure an abundant tomato plant harvest by performing proper maintenance throughout the year (via YouTube). According to Ryan's Instagram, he has even appeared with Martha on QVC, a home shopping network, to help promote her personalized home and gardening products to a variety of shoppers.

McCallister occasionally hosts workshops at the New York Botanic Gardens

If you are a big fan of Ryan and his work on the show, you can actually register for one of his workshops at the New York Botanic Gardens and get a chance at hands-on instruction. According to House Beautiful, Ryan has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ornamental Horticulture & Biology, which would make him more than qualified to teach classes to the public on these subjects.

His talks covered topics like how to best plant bulbs and maintain a fruit, vegetable, and herb garden to supply your table with fresh food. Unfortunately, his workshops are not regular, but the New York Botanical Gardens does host other workshops throughout the year, such as botanical art, floral design, gardening, and even wellness (via the New York Botanical Gardens). Who knows — if you choose to enroll, Ryan might end up being your teacher.

Stewart reveals the reason for her divorce in the show's very first episode

Apparently, her ex-husband didn't like gardening very much, so that's why her marriage ended. According to USA Today, Martha told viewers, "The couple that gardens together, stays together. Except for me, my husband ran off. He didn't like gardening very much. I'd find him lying on his back in the garden with his Walkman, and he would be lying listening to a symphony, while he was supposed to be weeding the garden. That was the end of him."

Martha met Andrew Stewart on a blind date while she was studying at Barnard College and he at Yale Law School. They were married one year later, in July of 1961, and were married for over 30 years before their eventual divorce in 1990. They have one child together, Alexis Stewart, who was born in 1965 and also works in media (via New York Magazine).

Martha Knows Best Season 1 was filmed in 2020 during lockdown

Leave it to Martha Stewart to be productive during quarantine. The entirety of "Martha Knows Best" Season 1 was filmed in early 2020 during the first stages of the COVID-19 lockdown. According to Town & Country, Martha, her gardener Ryan, and the rest of the production crew holed themselves up on the property in New York together to create the show.

However, in addition to filming, the entire group also took time to have fun together as well, including nightly card game tournaments and family dinners. Not only that, but they also did some chores around the farm that were not filmed for the show, like planting trees and working in the outdoor vegetable garden. And of course, baking cookies. "Ordinarily, I can burn off extra calories. But when Martha offers you a cookie, you can't just say no. They're delicious, and you eat three," her chief gardener Ryan McCallister told the magazine.

The program showcases her beautiful New York farm

Martha's sprawling property in upstate New York makes for perfect gardening television. And luckily, the public got a great glimpse inside the home due to an "MTV Cribs" episode. The entire property is 157 acres in Bedford, New York, and is divided into different sections. There's the main house — which she affectionately calls the Winter House — the guest house, a personal gym, a horse stable, and greenhouse for vegetables, and of course, fields upon fields of greenery.

In total, there are seven houses throughout the property, as well as multiple swimming pools. But of course, the most exciting part of the property for many fans is the sweeping shots of her gardens, many of which Martha actually designed herself over the years. They are filled with her favorite plants, her favorite flowers, and are all undeniably Martha. While not filming the show, Martha will often wake early to take a walk around her property, just to soak it all in (via The Martha Stewart Blog).

The potting methods showcased have actually been debunked by the garden community

Martha Stewart has been a pillar in the homemaking and gardening communities for decades, so it makes sense that some of her favorite techniques might be slightly old-fashioned. However, according to GardenRant, some of Stewart's advice is actually seriously outdated and requires modern tweaks so viewers don't hurt their plants.

In the show, Martha uses an older container-planting technique. She uses a bit of bubble wrap and a shard to cover the hole and lines her pots with a landscape cloth liner. But, plenty of people in the gardening community believe that this method actually traps liquid in the pot for too long and could cause drowning, rather than just giving the plant more time to soak in the liquid (via The Garden Professors). So, when enjoying "Martha Knows Best," sometimes you might need to think twice about the tips on the show. Just because Martha does something a particular way doesn't always mean other experts agree.

Martha doesn't keep up with other HGTV and DIY celebrities

Although Martha is a true home decor and gardening giant, it seems like she tends to just work on her own projects and generally mind her own business. Yes, she often has other celebrities partner with her on certain projects, but if you pay close enough attention, you'll know that they typically aren't in the same niche as her. Rather, they work in news, music, or film instead. 

To this end, Chip Gaines of "Fixer Upper" fame told Page Six, "We were so excited to meet Martha Stewart, but she didn't have the faintest idea who we are, not a single clue. But we didn't mind at all, Joanna was so excited to meet Martha and so we asked someone to introduce us." Since Chip made these comments at the Time 100 Gala, a spokesperson for Martha Stewart has confirmed that Chip's comments were made in jest and that Martha was delighted to meet the Gaines and is supportive of their work.

Martha actually has a seed library in her home's basement

When watching "Martha Knows Best," you might casually hear her mention her seed vault. Her right-hand man Ryan McCallister told HGTV that the special vault is actually "just a basement refrigerator that we keep all of the unused seeds and seed packets in." Oh, to be rich enough to have a seed vault in our basements for all our gardening needs! But, we can't help but wonder if Martha might be planning for something a bit more ... nefarious.

There is another seed vault on Svalbard, a Norwegian island near the North Pole. However, this one exists because the United Nations wanted a backup in case of a world-ending event or another major catastrophe in a particular region. Currently, the Global Seed Vault holds more than 1 million samples, with entries from almost every single country in the world ... just in case (via Crop Trust). While Martha's vault might not be as large, the fact that she has one at all is certainly still impressive. We wonder if she also keeps pomegranate seeds (like above) in the vault. 

Fans have criticized the show as out of touch

Martha Stewart is a wealthy, well-established celebrity gardener. At this point in her career, she is as much of a brand within her industry as she is a person. Because of this, some in the gardening world are pushing back against "Martha Knows Best" because she makes all the work she does look a little bit too easy on the show.

According to GardenRant, some viewers are frustrated that "Martha Knows Best" makes it seem like Martha is responsible for the upkeep of the sprawling gardens of her 153-acre estate in Bedford, New York mostly on her own. When in reality, she has a gardening staff, drivers, housekeepers, and of course, television producers to make all of her projects seem easy and look picture-perfect. However, we would assume that most fans understand that a woman in her late 70s isn't single handedly taking care of a property that size. That said, when attempting your own at-home gardening projects, don't feel disheartened if you don't look as glamorous as Martha Stewart, or if things don't come as easily. We can't all be the queen of gardening.

Martha uses the program to show off her favorite gardening tools

Is Martha Stewart becoming an influencer? Some might say so as the queen of DIY television used her most recent venture to show off her favorite gardening tools. In the show's "Container Gardens" episode, Martha uses her hori-hori knife to loosen up the roots of a particularly stubborn succulent plant before planting it. According to The HomeStud, a hori-hori knife is a special gardening tool originally from Japan. In fact, you might also hear the knife called a Japanese soil knife for this reason.

The knives are famous for being a great all-around gardening tool. They are helpful because the handle is nice and wide, making it easy to grip. In addition, the blade is straight on one side, but serrated on the other, meaning you can cut up nearly anything. There are also distance marks along the front of the blade to help you measure when planting. Many who watched the show wanted one of their own after seeing how useful it was, and Martha was waiting in the wings with a product line ready, like a true influencer (via Amazon).

You can actually have Martha's dessert selections shipped to you

Hungry while watching the show? You don't have to be! If you've ever thought that the pastries and other dessert collections she features looked a little too good through the screen, you're in total luck because they are now shipped nationwide. According to Martha's official Instagram account, her treats are available through Goldbelly, a platform specializing in long-haul food transport.

You can buy giant cookies that take two hands to hold, danishes, and other assorted pastries, too. Packages range from $59.95 to $99.95 and come in plenty of different size varieties, so whether you are ordering for yourself or an upcoming party, Martha has you covered. Depending on what you order, the desserts will either arrive frozen or room temperature and ready to eat. And, if you have an event coming up and don't want to forget, you can even place an order with delayed delivery, so your sweets arrive right when you need them too.

Martha is so well liked that other celebs were dying for a cameo

Martha is such a well-known figure in the entertainment and art world that it is truly an honor to be featured on her show. According to Variety, "Martha Knows Best" is brimming with cameos from the stars. The likes of Jay Leno, Snoop Dogg, Richard Gere, Lupita Nyong'o, Antoni Porowski, and even Hailey Baldwin Bieber make an appearance throughout its six-episode initial run. It's a true right of passage to get gardening advice from Martha.

Of these guest appearances, however, most fans will be the most thrilled by the presence of Snoop Dogg when he and Martha video chatted for an episode. Martha and Snoop have formed a close, albeit unlikely, friendship over the years. "We have a lot of fun together," she told Artful Living. "Snoop has taught me so much about music and culture that I would never be privy to otherwise. He is extremely knowledgeable, laid-back, smart, and a good businessman."