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Friday, July 31, 2009

Garden Books

I thought it was somewhat important to list some of the gardening books that I really value.  I love reading about gardening as much as the act of gardening itself!  And I spend a good amount of time in late winter brushing up on my favorite reads.
Since I am not supremely organized, I will try my best to make it a readable list!!

Must Reads:
The book I reread every late winter is: The Vegetable Gardener's Bible By Edward Smith.  I like the way this book is written, and the approach that he takes to organic raised beds. The latter half of the book is a veggie encyclopedia that gives a lot of information in an easy to read format. (the link above has Amazon's search inside feature, which is nice to see it if you plan to buy online, you can still "thumb through" it) If I had to recommend only one book to someone about home veggies it would probably be this one, since all the basics are represented and it just gives you a really great place to start. I am confident that a beginning gardener could use this book and have a successful first harvest. I think that there is information that even seasoned and experienced growers can use, and if nothing else, entertain their thoughts on some of Mr. Smith's ideations.


Another really well-read book around here is: Fruits, Nuts and Berries for the Home Garden by Lewis Hill. This is such a great resource for me, because my real passion is in fruits....I like veggies, but I LOVE fruit. Especially strawberries, grapes and apples. This is a great book that really taught me some of the horticultural principals that I garden by. Like "little tree, big hole" and so many great tips and tricks of the trade that I learned in the introductory chapters...that this is one of my all time favorites and would replace immediately if stolen (although I refuse to loan it out!)  I had read this book at least half a dozen times before ever planting my first fruit.  I absolutely adore it!  Mr. Hill has a friendly approach to his writing style that is endearing.  His wife also has recipes at the end of the book, and her own cookbook, also published by Storey.


In that title and a few others, there is reference to Stella Otto's: The Backyard Orchardist Which  is also a good book. It is well organized and concise.  the information is a decade in a half of personal experience and is the winner of several literary awards.

If I had to chose only one fruit book, it'd be, the Lewis Hill book, and I would get some of the technical info from Otto's book online...(Google).  I like both books, but really became attached to the Lewis Hill book, as I have had it for almost 10 years and it is full of highlights and plant marker bookmarks!


Lewis Hill has another great book that I would consider super informative, it's called Secrets of Plant Propagation . It starts from seeds to grafting and even mentions tissue culture. It is a great place to start amateur plant multiplication projects. Also well written and just really like books by that Publisher. (Storey)  This is a great introduction to commercial reproduction of plants, from a more "hobbyist" perspective.  You can take the information and run with it, and possibly become a very successful beginning nursery-man or woman.

Some new additions to my library that I have really been enjoying are:

It isn't exactly and fully explanitory in every subject, but it is really well written, and gives a little bit of info on a lot of subjects, so it is, again, like the others, very useful to get you a good base of knowledge. I really enjoy the seasonal garden pictures and the authors representation of what he would do with a one acre, or five acre parcel to sustain a family. There are sections on nearly any topic from animal husbandry to wine making and beer brewing.  It covers such a vast range of interests, but at the same is well-rounded and cohesive.  It is a very useful book to anyone wishing to become more self reliant. I would also love to add his book: The New Self Sufficient Gardener to my library when I can.


The Four Season Harvest and The New organic Grower by Elliot Coleman are really informative reads, I think they are a really important addition because of the technique he employs in growing food year round. He is an inquisitive and instinctive gardener, and both books are really great.  Many people view Mr. Coleman as a leader in the Organic Market Farming world.  He is a role model for soil stewardship and eco farming practice.  Many new growers follow his advise religiously, as his successes make it invaluable to us all, the common sense practices he employs.  He has a newer release, I believe; called The Winter Harvest Handbook that I have heard many growers talk about as well.  These titles have been in the top 10 of most recommends since I began reading about the topic over a decade ago, and the titles are holding strong.  If you don't read them, you will regret it when you hear them named over and over in organic food production discussions.  Wonderful books, and he seems like such a great guy!


Encyclopedic resources:
I was given a copy of Rodales encyclopedia of organic gardening and it has a lot of good info when you just want one concise entry on a subject, or plant. It isn't something I have read cover to cover but close! I also have The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control.  This is a book I probably should have bought a long time ago, it is the handbook of what is wrong in the garden.  Organic methods of limiting pests and disease.  It is crucial to know what you may be up against.


Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a serious addiction to Google and Amazon.  I rely on them daily.  Most of the time excessively!  I have a super long amazon wish list, that is primarily books on a wide range of topics, including gardening and cooking.  I love that I can find information with Google and download PDF's of charts and data from my area at my university extension website and those of other states as well.  The internet, is the bane of many people's existence, but it is (sadly enough) the center of my world.  I sometimes preach to my friends and family that the internet is such a wonderful place, where every idea becomes virtual reality and that any person can become a scholar, with infinite resources of reliable knowledge if you chose to seek it out and make informed decisions about your sources.  I am happy to be of the generation that helped to make the WWW what it is, and an individual who is able to implement it for my own personal betterment.  I thing, as all things are in life, the tools you use to be who you are or are to become, can be used for good or ill, it is always your choice.  The internet has found unending possibilities in it's usefulness, and it is up to us to ensure that those uses stay within the lines of reason and good will.

Happy reading to you all, and thanks for visiting!

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