Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Review: Season Extending......

Book reviews: Smittle, D. and Richerson, S.A. (2010). "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Year-Round Gardening" New York: Alpha, Penguin Books AND
Coleman, E. (2009) "Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses." White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green.

It is getting hot hot hot- time to garden early in the day, and sit in the shade and read garden books in the afternoon, while sipping tea or lemonade. And, a great time to think of the cool autumn planting season that is coming. So, to those ends, some reading ideas, after my editorial comment:

I do not like books with titles ending in the words "...for dummies" nor books that start with "The Complete Idiot's Guide..." It was funny the first time I saw such a title, when it was specific to computer software or perhaps algebra. It is very unfunny, however, to see such titles as "Breast Cancer for Dummies" or "Multiple Sclerosis for Dummies" or "The Complete Idiots Guide to Jesus" (however, I must say, if not for my principled stance against such titles, I might almost approve of "The Complete Idiots Guide to Werewolves"). I am not an idiot nor a dummy and I do not believe most readers are. We are learners, and learners are pretty darn smart people.

Yet, this is a book that is in the latter "idiots" series that I picked up at the library. Despite the offensive name, it is a pretty good book on extending the garden season. The book is a basic garden primer too- you cannot do a good job at extending the season if you cannot garden well during the regular growing season in the first place. The authors discuss soil, compost, fertilizing, seed starting, etc, along with cloches, row covers and tunnels, cold frames and greenhouses...and they do a pretty good job of it. It is a good first step into gardening and season extending.

However, if you want more info or want to try gardening on a grander scale, Eliot Coleman has done a better job with this subject in the "Four Season Harvest" and "Winter Harvest Handbook" (I don't have a photo). He is co-owner, with Barbara Damrosch (author of "The Garden Primer" an excellent garden book) of a farm in Maine and commercially farms on a near year-round basis. If he can do it in Maine, we can do it in Virginia! He gives good advice on tools, portable greenhouses and plant selections and it is written in a clear way.

So get on that hammock, get out a good book and happy garden reading!

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