And had a heavy bus ride home.
Unsurprisingly, the Reader’s Digest Canadian Illustrated Guide to Green Gardening is a disappointment. Obviously it’s great that it focuses on Canada, and it does have a few pages on raingardens and natural pest control. I only really took it out because it has so many pictures, I thought it had to be useful. It’s not. At least, not to me. The majority of its (glossy, probably old-growth, bleached, white) pages discuss flowers, lawns and how to make a lovely outdoor room you won’t be embarrassed to show off to your colleagues. There are some good tips on helpful insects, a section each on fruit trees, vegetables and herbs - but they are all short, uninspiring and the prose is, well, boring. I like a mixture of technical speak AND anecdote, or at least something descriptive to make me WANT to plant the beetroot we’re discussing. I’m probably being too hard on it, but this book is everything I thought it would be which is too bad - it was heavy to carry home. Ah! A last minute find! At the back you’ll find a nice section on disorders, with excellent drawings. This looks useful for figuring out what’s going wrong and what to do about it. Still, I wouldn’t recommend lugging this thing home for the one section. Let’s see if we can find that elsewhere instead.
I’m more excited about the next book on my lap – Garden City: Vancouver (Marg Meikle and Dannie McArthur). I liked the idea of this one because it seems to be all about the community gardening creates, rather than just the basics of laying out and maintaining vegetable beds. Published in 1999, I doubt that the resources pages will be useful but the idea is great, and a good reminder. It starts of well with some helpful dirt on… dirt. Sorry, I had to. It’s so nice to know that everything it says is relevant to my yard. Same goes with the stuff about pests. The downside? It’s all rather brief. I’m not sure why they’ve written so little given that I have hundreds of pages to go – but I guess I’ll find out. Well, looks like it’s because they dedicate hundreds of pages to contact info of supplies, nurseries, designers and clubs, events and community gardens. Since it’s so old I wonder how useful that will be… I may try cold-calling a few people just for fun HA! There is a 5 page section on kids and gardening which is nice to see. A few more years and I will have two handy helpers to help me with all the trenching. Phew! Overall I like the idea of this book but it’s not worth buying for my library – unless they have a 2010 version, which it doesn’t appear exists yet.
Next up is A West Coast Kitchen Garden by Andrew Yeoman. I chose this book because a) it’s specific to my locale b) it’s about food-production and c) it has a picture of a lovely cottage on the cover, and I’m a sucker for cottages. YES! This one is almost a winner. No pictures (boo) but a fantastic compendium of ONLY vegetables and herbs (and the flowers that love to love them) that grow here. A perfect summary of the useful info for each one, laid out for easy reading and I would assume constant reference. Following that is a great section on “the growing environment” which includes a lengthy treatise on soil (I need help here) and pest management (SLUGS!). I’m happy to see a page or two on sustainability and a really great list of what herbs should grow where in your garden (and why). This is a book I would buy and keep handy. It’s funny, it’s older than Garden City, but it limits its resource pages to a few at the end, and that is what keeps it relevant to me. Garden City seemed to get bogged down in the resources, West Coast Kitchen Garden just IS a resource.
Last but hopefully not least is a book about my dream – 12 month or perennial gardening. It took 5 authors to write this one: The New Twelve Month Gardener: a West Coast Guide” (Stevens, Mitchell, Buffam, Hungerford and Fancourt-Smith). So many key words in that title and the VPL online catalogue STILL didn’t bring it up on my initial search. This one has lots going for it. One of the authors is called Hungerford for goodness’ sake. Oh, and it happily announces it sold over 30,000 copies (it came out in 2000). I would be pretty stoked if 30,000 people looked at my blog, and it’s on the internet. Anyways, back to the book. No pictures. Moving on, it’s organized by month. I’m thinking this is either a stroke of genius or it’s really going to backfire. I do much better when information is laid out all in advance and then I can plug it into my *own* calendar once I decide which of it I like. That said, it’s not my area, and who knows – maybe this will be more useful in terms of being *cough* realistic.
So each month has a highlights section (what blooms), then a checklist of things to do for:
· Annuals, perennials and bulbs
· Trees, shrubs and climbers
· Fruits, vegetables and herbs
· General garden activities.
Then it launches into garden design and colour – but that’s in January only. In February the checklist is followed by information on shade gardens and native plants. March delves into soil. I LOVE the checklists, hate the random sorting of everything else they want to talk to you about. I’m OK in the end though, because the advice is well-written (generally) and thorough. So, I’d buy this book, especially if it was on sale.
So, that was what I found at the library in terms of gardening. I have a couple of books to take back *cough reader’s digest cough* so maybe I’ll take out some chicken tomes and see what I have to say about that.
I also snuck in some books on candle-making and soap-making. I’m not sure now is the time to discuss them because I actually just need to learn how to do that stuff and get on with it. Guess what you’re getting for Christmas!