BOOKS IN THE GARDEN
by TERRY KRAMER
WEATHER GOT YOU DOWN? Try curling up in front of the fire with a good gardening book. You will learn something new while the rain soaks the garden. Here are a few books worth investigating.
EASY ANSWERS FOR GREAT
This book is dedicated to making gardening less work and more fun, a concept most gardeners eagerly embrace. Author Marianne Binetti, who writes a weekly garden column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, writes, "The easy answer for a great garden is to work smarter, not harder." Written in a question/answer format based on past columns, this book offers 500 tips, techniques and "outlandish ideas." Much of the information is Basic Gardening 101, detailing practices of soil improvement, mulching and garden planning. If you want to know about pruning lilacs, trapping moles, feeding rhododendrons or mowing the lawn, this is the book for you. Chapters on trees, ground covers, vines, bulbs, perennials and roses are peppered with highlighted sidebars of handy tips that should make gardening easy. For example, Binetti writes, "I've learned to prune in stages, taking out just a little bit every few months and then observing what the plant does and how it looks before pruning off more. This way I don't get as sore, and don't have too many pruning crumbs to fit into the garden dumpster." This book has no photos and illustrations are few, but what it lacks in art it makes up for in good practical information. A handy reference book for beginning or intermediate gardeners.
Sell the rototiller and give your aching back a break is the premise of Lasagna Gardening, which encourages the gardener to stop digging, tilling and weeding. Winner of the Quill and Trowel Award from the Garden Writers Association of America, Lanza's organic approach to gardening is a take-off on sheet composting. Instead of digging, Lanza suggests covering beds with wet newspaper, layering on peat moss, barn litter, compost, grass clippings, chopped leaves and wood ashes to make a bed 18 to 24 inches deep. Digging and weeding are eliminated while garden soil is improved. Lasagna Gardening offers garden basics with the sheet composting slant. Humorous anecdotes are sprinkled throughout. I like the one about the $10 picket fence she bought at an auction that ended up costing $1,110. A good book for beginning and intermediate gardeners.
GROWING GREAT GARLIC
Garlic aficionados will appreciate this definitive guide to growing garlic tailored for organic gardeners and small farmers. Engeland, who writes,"I'm not a trained botanist or scientist, just a farmer in an urban culture that has long since forgotten its own agricultural roots," offers up a garlic grower's bible. The book is divided into three basic parts. It begins with a detailed history of garlic from prehistoric times to present. It is interesting to read about the "garlic crescent," an area in Central Asia encompassing parts of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikstan, Turkmenistan and northern Iran. Maps of ancient trade routes show how garlic spread throughout the world. The second part of the book has six chapters on how to grow garlic from the act of clove popping, breaking off seed bulbs into individual cloves, to top popping, snapping off flower stalks prior to harvest. Details on site selection, soil preparation and fertilizing garlic to get maximum yield are informative. The third part of the book includes four chapters on harvesting, curing, packing, storing and marketing garlic. Detailed line illustrations of garlic anatomy and maps of garlic's origins comprise the art. Although Growing Great Garlic was written in 1991, it has been reprinted numerous times, a testament to its undying popularity.
THE GARDENER'S GUIDE TO
GROWING TEMPERATE BAMBOOS
Amateur and experienced bamboo collectors alike should be impressed by this informative, superbly illustrated book on bamboo. Michael Bell, president of the United Kingdom Bamboo Society, offers a richly detailed portrait of bamboo from its history to how to landscape with it. Many gardeners are put off by bamboo's aggressive tendency to spread. To that Bell writes, "Bamboos have an unfortunate reputation of spreading like weeds, but there are dozens of species that remain in a compact clump for many years if trouble is taken to select the right plant, rather than those that are suitable for mass production by the thousands to satisfy the garden centre trade." An A to Z section describing more than 125 types of bamboo offers help in selecting the right bamboo for the right location. The book also has chapters on bamboo botany, propagation and potential problems. Beautiful color photos and detailed illustrations are educational and entertaining.
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