How we make a random draw for our prizes

Garden Making

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Garden Making

Here’s how we use a random draw to pick winners. Most important, the prizes in our draws must be of value to Garden Making readers. We promise to conduct the draws fairly and efficiently.

How we decide on what prizes to offer

We aim to encourage people to enjoy gardening, so we focus on items that will be of interest to home gardeners or people who love gardens. This includes books, garden shows, products and services for home gardeners. We publish a history of past prizes and their winners.

To see if there are any current draws, go to

Why we limit entries to one per person

It’s free to enter our draws, and it’s easy to do so, especially if you’re a registered member on because your email address is automatically filled in (if you have enabled cookies for tracking website visits). But we want everyone to have a good chance to win, so our rules limit entries to one per person. If there are multiple entries for the same person, we consider only the first entry to be valid for the random selection. We require a valid email address as well as a first and last name in order to enter.

When someone enters a draw, a message on the screen tells them they will receive an email to confirm their entry. It’s important that people provide a valid email and make sure that our emails don’t end up in a spam filter, because we only use email to contact potential winners.

Once a draw closes, we import the entries into a FileMaker database that automatically reviews entries and looks for duplicate entries. Usually, there are only a handful of instances where someone has entered more than once. We can see the date and time of entry. I think some of the duplication is because someone forgot they had entered a few days earlier.

The random draw to pick winners

Often we have multiple prizes for each draw, so the chances of winning are really excellent. Each entry is automatically assigned a unique sequential number at the time of entry. For instance, for a draw for tickets to the Peterborough Garden Show, the entry numbers for the 399 entries were assigned numbers from 2728 to 3024. To pick winners, I need a list of random numbers in that range, and I want at least twice as many numbers as prizes in case a number picked is not eligible or they decline. There were five prizes for Peterborough tickets, so I went to a random number generator online called and requested a set of 10 numbers, which were: 2806, 2813, 3024, 2788, 2837, 2959, 2728, 2938, 2766, 2865.

I then go to the entry for each number to check that we have a valid email and person’s name, and that this was their only valid entry. I then send each individual an email that gives them 48 hours to reply in order to provide a mailing address, to confirm that they are of the age of majority, that they don’t work for Garden Making or the prize sponsor’s organization, and to answer a skill-testing question. (The skill-testing question is needed because otherwise this would technically be a lottery, and only governments can run lotteries.)

Most people respond within a few hours. If someone declines or fails to respond within 48 hours, then I move on to the next number on my random list.

We don’t know where people live until they win

For most draws, our rules limit entries to residents of Canada or sometimes Canada and the U.S. Occasionally, we get angry emails from our readers in British Columbia complaining that only people in Ontario seem to win. The reality is that from an email address we seldom know where someone lives. And we don’t use any criteria other than the random number and draw rules to pick winners. Of course, draws for tickets to garden shows in Ontario will mostly be entered by people within driving distance because they’re able to attend, but we’ve had winners from across the country for many of our other draws over the years.

Our  email service gives us some indication of locations of users based on the IP address of the device used. Of our 11,000+ registered valid email users, we estimate about 50% are in Ontario, 15% in B.C. and the balance in other provinces, the U.S. or other countries.

To be alerted to draws, sign up for our emails and set your preferences for which emails you want to receive.

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