Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Learned Much of I Know From Gardening Books.

Not everyone needs to become a certified Master Gardener to have a reasonably successful vegetable garden. You could also just be a bookworm – or geek – like me. I learned most everything I know from experience and studying. In addition to my modest collection of books on raising low-maintenance flowers, I also own a few books on vegetable gardening. If you don’t want to invest in your own personal library, the Bexley Library has a whole bookshelf with nothing but gardening books. (I’m sure that’s not a big surprise to many of you). I hope to gander through most of the Bexley collection over the summer and summarize them so that you can decide which ones are best for you.

Rodale’s Successful Organic Gardening Vegetables. This is my gardening bible. It has a section in the back which summarizes the necessities for growing virtually every kind of vegetable and herb. It literally goes from artichokes to watercress and many places in between, such as beans, peas, lettuce, squash, melons, corn, etc. It summarizes when to plant, what kind of soil, special tips and how to know when to harvest. I couldn’t live without this book. The front of the book summarizes general gardening issues, such as raised beds, composting, pH, starting seeds indoors, trellis, etc. Great book.

The Complete Guide to Successful Gardening. This was a gift from a former neighbor, Page Heiss, when he moved away. It was my gardening bible last year and I took it with me everywhere. It’s much thicker and more informative than Rodale’s. For instance, its back section planting guide goes into more detail than the Rodale’s version (above) It also has pictures and some nifty tips which are lacking in the Rodale’s. It also talks about soils, digging and double digging, garden frames, rotating crops, successional crops, and goes into more depth about the proper depth to plant seeds. It also has a month-by-month guide of gardening tasks and harvesting schedules. It also has a section on growing flowers.

Rodale’s Successful Organic Gardening Low-Maintenance Landscaping. This is the “lite” version of the first Rodale’s book (above) and also includes a section on flowers. I like it because it focuses on the easiest flowers and vegetables to grow, although it is not as comprehensive as the version above.

The Budget Gardener by Maureen Gilmer is in the Bexley Library and promises Twice the Garden for Half the Price. It does not, however, contain a planting guide or much specifics about growing particular plants. Rather, it focuses on how to recycle virtually everything you can imagine to benefit your gardening habit. It has a great section on composting, which items have the highest levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, etc.. and where you can get ingredients (like horse manure) for free. It even has a section on stealing sticks from your neighbors yard waste in order to build artsy and free fencing. My favorite tip involved recycling beer bottle tabs into a boot scraper by nailing them to a round log which you keep next to your back door (in order to scrape the mud off your shoes after trudging through a muddy garden). (The brush scrapers seem to have a one-year useful life and I’m anxious to collect enough caps to try this new idea. Feel free to help me out). Very cute book.

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