Monday, December 27, 2010

Amazing Books, I

What a great time of year for some gardening book reviews!

Basically, I classify gardening books into one of three types:

1) General interest books, with lots of pretty pictures and very little information about specific plants or regions. Often these books will attempt to cover topics like lawn grass and mower maintenance in the same book as vegetable gardening.

2) Inspirational books, with lots of promises that they've taken the work and/or disappointment out of gardening.

3) Region/plant/technique-specific books, with lots of pencil sketches and educated opinions about the best way to do x, y or z.

I have samples of all three types on my bookshelf, but I use the categories to remind myself not to take any of them too seriously. Books in category two, for example, tend to make me want to spend lots of $$$ on a completely new style of gardening that for various reasons just may or may not be compatible with me (e.g. Square Foot Gardening (SFG)). Books in category one can be repetitive, while books in category three can be biased by the limited range of climates and soil types in which the author has worked.

So, what are my favorite books? There are several, but here are my top two:

1) Gardening When it Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, by Steve Solomon. I really enjoyed this book. The author's extensive experience growing vegetables is evident throughout, though he is careful to point out the limitations of his own knowledge. Unfortunately this one can be hard to find, but if you like I'll loan you my copy!
2) The Farmer's Wife Guide to Growing a Great Garden and Eating From it Too! by Barbara Doyen. Again, the book is written by someone who has obviously learned a great deal about gardening through experience. (Her fruits book was good, too, though not as good.)

I'll probably list some runners up in a later post. Happy reading!

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