Friday, May 29, 2009

Learn to garden--read a book!

my almost-Square-Foot Garden, newly planted as of May 24, 2009

As someone who unfailingly turns to books to learn just about anything, I had to take a peek at Dominique Browning's review of gardening books in the N.Y. Times Books section (May 28, 2009).  I'm so glad I did.  Not only did I find a title or two to look out for at the library and bookstore, but my husband heard some pretty serious snickering coming from the general area of the computer while I read.  Some of my favorite lines are below, but please take time to read the entire article here.

What the wine cellar was to the ’90s, the root cellar will be to this decade. Same concept, come to think of it: Climate control. Rotation. Status. Expense. By the time you read this, of course, serious gardeners will have sown their oats and tomatoes, but determined neophytes can still catch up.
If you insist on growing flowers, or as they are frequently referred to with disdain by vegetable gardeners, ornamentals, then you should own UNDERSTANDING PER­ENNIALS (Frances Tenenbaum/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40), by William Cullina.
about the same title:
His description of crassulacean acid metabolism, wherein cacti, yuccas, agaves and sedums open their stomata at night when it’s cooler in order to “bind carbon dioxide on special molecules much like we bind oxygen on hemoglobin in our blood” had me on edge for hours
Sounds like my kind of book.  
Concerning compost:
After reading pages and pages about the virtues of wood compost bins versus plastic and wire mesh, I was relieved to learn that I could simply dig a hole in the ground, dump in the kitchen scraps, rake on some leaves and call it a day.
Even about kids and the newly-popularized term "nature deficit disorder":
Not that we can summon much attention for yet another three-word problem, but I sympathize with her point that children spend more time cooped up than chickens.
And for my friends with chickens and guinea fowl:
They roam all over the road, getting to the middle and freezing in place, trying to recall why they wanted to cross. You have to sit patiently in your car until their brains shift into gear.
To end on a note that sings true to me:
You’ll even get a recipe for mint julep — and I can’t imagine a better place for a stiff drink than a vegetable garden.
Okay, one more--
Dominique Browning’s most recent book is “Paths of Desire: The Passions of a Suburban Gardener.”


Makita said...

We are trying a Square-Foot Garden as well. We just planted our seedlings today in fact. In Central Oregon - we have a very short growing season. I'll be surprised if we get more than just peas. But it's a start.


LB said...

Your little squares of garden are very pretty. Do I see some ornamentals in there?

For the record, I'll have you know my chickens are not allowed to cross the road. And I've found the perfect cure to "NDD" - the chicken coop! My kids (and I) love to hang out in there.

Suji said...

Oooh I loved that bit about composting...glad to know I really don't need to fork out more money to get a bin :)

Fiddler said...

Good luck, Makita! I don't think our growing season is very long, either. It's not that unusual to have a frost or two right up until Memorial Day.

LB, you did see some ornamentals, though these are with a purpose--gardener's lore says that having marigolds nearby will help keep critters away from the garden (which is now fenced in with bird netting).

Suji, the only problem I can see with the low maintenance variety of compost is the aforementioned critters, which we have a lot of around here, backing up on the woods as we do. We sank enough money into the building and planting of the garden--the compost bin will have to wait until next year!