Plant Some Seeds With These New Gardening Books

For most of us in Canada—West Coast aside, with its gorgeous early spring—the weather is still probably a little touch-and-go, and while the sprouts are growing hardily indoors, it's not quite time to transfer them yet to their outdoor beds. But it's going to happen any day now! And to further you along in your garden inspiration, we're happy to recommend a whole host of new books on the subject. 

See also Merilyn Simonds' list from a few years back, The Literary Garden. Because the connections between books and gardens are many. 

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For the New Homeowner

Your First Garden: A Landscape Primer for New Homeowners, by Judith Adam

About the book: In this book, accomplished garden writer Judith Adam targets new homeowners in sterile, still-to-be-landscaped suburbs. Creating an attractive setting for a brand-new house is a high priority and hard to resist, as all improvements will add to the property's dollar value as well as the enjoyment of the new home. 

With a light hand Adam outlines the basic steps toward transforming an empty yard into a welcoming, appealing space, beginning with identifying a personal garden style and assessing the pros and cons of a site, then choosing, planting and maintaining plants. 

Your First Garden is a primer on the basic elements of landscape design and garden creation: planning for scale and balance, color selection, and architectural features are all landscape elements that homeowners must understand.

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For the East Coast Gardener

Atlantic Coast Gardening: Growing Inspired, Resilient Plants by the Sea, by Denise Adams

About the book: Denise Adams has had a lifetime of gardening experience at the threshold of the Atlantic Ocean. In Atlantic Coastal Gardening she offers personal, practical tips, techniques, and inspirational advice for creating healthy, beautiful coastal gardens. Atlantic Coastal Gardening includes everything from creative composting to gathering and growing seeds, simple, natural recipes for the seaside garden harvest, solutions to poor soil quality, and plenty more! This new softcover edition includes over 300 vibrant images of stunning coastal gardens and scenery on Nova Scotia's South Shore.

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If You're Looking for a Guru

The New Canadian Garden, by Mark Cullen, with Marietta Sharp

About the book: In The New Canadian Garden, Canada’s gardening guru, Mark Cullen, explores new trends that are redefining today’s gardening experiences. Many of us are utilizing small urban spaces — balconies, patios, and even rooftops — and growing our own fruits, vegetables, and herbs, both at home and through community gardens. Mark has lots of suggestions about which crops will work best for your particular space and how to attract birds, bees, and butterflies to your garden. And he combines the best practical information with an insightful approach to help improve your gardening skills. The New Canadian Garden is a must-have reference for anyone gardening in a Canadian climate.

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So You Want to Grow Some Veggies?

Food to Grow: A Simple, No-Fail Guide to Growing Your Own Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs, by Frankie Flowers

About the book: Nothing beats the taste and smell of a tomato freshly picked from your own garden. And there’s a certain pride in knowing that the salad you just served—fresh strawberries and all—was harvested entirely from your backyard. But growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs can be time-consuming and feel overwhelmingly complicated. Your eagerness to get growing in the spring can be rained out by seemingly endless seedlings and seed packs at your garden centre, all with cryptic planting instructions that leave you with withered plants rather than crunchy carrots. But it doesn’t need to be that way! Frankie Flowers has decades of experience helping thumbs of all colours turn barren patches and empty pots into bountiful harvests—and he can help you do the same.

Food to Grow simplifies every growing decision you’ll need to make. Frankie helps you evaluate your space, decide just how much time you want to invest and then make the smartest choices about which plants will give you the best bang for your buck. He guides you through the entire growing season from prepping and planning, to planting, weeding and harvesting (the best part!), and he shares not just which veggies, fruits and herbs have become Frankie’s Favourites, but also which plants just aren’t worth the effort.

Loaded with gorgeous photography that will have you desperate to get digging, Food to Grow includes a detailed A–Z index of over fifty of Canada’s most popular home crops. Whether you have space for a few pots or a back forty, Frankie Flowers will help you make your dream of home-grown treats a fun and tasty reality.

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Celebrate the International Year of Pulses in the Garden

The Power of Pulses: Saving the World with Peas, Beans, Chickpeas, Favas and Lentils, by Dan Jason, Hilary Malone and Alison Eathorne

About the book: An inspiring do-it-yourself guide to growing and eating pulses—a versatile, nutritious and highly sustainable crop that includes beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils and favas.

For those who are committed to increasing self-reliance and supporting locally available food sources, pulses are an often-overlooked source of ethical protein. Dan Jason, owner of Salt Spring Seeds, is a long-time advocate of pulses as a healthy and environmentally responsible alternative to meat and tofu. In The Power of Pulses, Jason provides tips on how North American home gardeners can grow and save their own delicious, vividly hued heirloom beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils and favas.

As well as being incredibly versatile in the kitchen, pulses are also rich in fibre, high in vitamin B, gluten-free and remarkably low on the glycemic index—contributing to good health and helping to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. 

In The Power of Pulses, talented foodie-sister team Hilary Malone and Alison Malone Eathorne collaborate with Jason to create 40+ vegetarian recipes featuring fresh and inventive uses for the garden’s bounty, including Broad Bean Succotash with Fresh Ricotta & Poached Eggs on Toast, Crispy Chickpea Power Bowl with Kale, Quinoa and Dukkah Crunch and even Black Bean Brownies with Espresso Ganache. Vibrantly illustrated, this exciting garden-to-kitchen volume is sure to inspire readers to harness the power of pulses!

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Make Your Garden Better with Chickens

Happy Hens and Fresh Eggs: Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden, with 100 Recipes, by Signe Langford

About the book: Today’s renaissance of the backyard flock is driven by a growing desire for healthy organic ingredients, food security and animal welfare—and while hunger might be “the best sauce,” a dash of self-sufficiency is remarkably satisfying too. As communities from Victoria to St. John’s amend urban bylaws to allow backyard flocks, more and more Canadians are enjoying the pleasures and rewards of keeping hens in the garden. 

In addition to tending her family’s flock as a child, Signe Langford has kept chickens in her urban Toronto yard for almost a decade. Her book is stuffed full of practical advice on keeping the garden both gorgeous and productive and hens happy and healthy. In addition to answering questions about coop construction, year-round egg production and whether or not a rooster is really needed, she covers the best breeds for backyards—from the Canadian winter-tough Chanticlear to peewee bantams to blue-egg producing Ameraucana. 

A self-admitted “biomass addict,” Langford explains how hens are the happiest garden helpers anyone could ever have. Give them kitchen scraps and let them visit the compost pile: they’ll enrich and aerate the soil, all while eating as many bugs as they can get their beaks on. Langford also shares what plants should be scratched and what to sow to support the flock—from edible flowers and foliage to a hens’ herbal healing bed. 

In the kitchen, Langford tells why coddling can be a good thing when it comes to eggs; how to salt-cure yolks and how to dash off a classic French omelette baveuse.

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Great Reading for the Edmonton Gardener

Why Grow Here: Essays on Edmonton's Gardening History, by Kathryn Chase Merrett

About the book: Edmonton has a rich and diverse horticultural history. Vacant lot gardeners, rose gardeners, and horticultural societies have all contributed to the beautification of the capital city of Alberta, and through the enthusiasm of florists, seedsmen, and plant breeders the city has developed a distinct horticultural character. In this collection of nine essays, each with a different theme, Kathryn Chase Merrett depicts the development of Edmonton’s social, cultural, and physical landscape as it has been shaped by champions of both nature and the garden. Edmontonians and all urbanites interested in gardening and local history, as well as professors and students of history, cultural studies, and urban design, will delight in the colourful storytelling of Why Grow Here.

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If You Need Green Thumb Inspiration

Fix Your Garden: Get Your Outdoor Space Blooming in No Time at All, by Jane Moseley and Jackie Strachan

About the book:  Don’t know what to do with a messy garden or bleak-looking balcony? Want to stake your claim on a little corner of a shared garden? No gardening experience whatsoever? This book is the perfect solution. Packed with tips and tricks to get your green fingers going, this beautifully illustrated little book will help you make the most of your outdoor space, even if you’ve only got a tiny windowbox. It will take you step by step from early analysis of the soil to find out which plants will do best, to fixing that weed-covered wilderness of a backyard you’ve inherited and starting to grow your own fruit and vegetables. With tips on garden design and how to conquer common pests and diseases, this is a crash course in getting your outdoor space sorted, and also contains information on houseplants so you can bring a little bit of the outdoors in.

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For the Western Canada Gardener

Native Plants for the Short Season Yard: Best Picks for the Chinook and Canadian Prairie Zones, by Lyndon Penner

About the book: This is the definitive guide to gardening with native plants on the prairies. Gardening with native plants has lots of advantages, not only for your yard, but also for the ecosystem. What could be better than a beautiful, low-maintenance yard that preserves biodiversity and withstands the prairie climate? Native Plants for the Short Season Yard is the key for western Canadian gardeners wanting to unlock the full potential of native plants. 

With the wit and wisdom his fans love, Lyndon shares the basics of shopping for, propagating, and designing with native plants. He also shines a light on more than 100 of his favourite native plants, along with tips on how to grow them.

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For the Aspiring Urban Farmer

The Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land, by Curtis Stone

About the book: There are 40 million acres of lawns in North America. In their current form, these unproductive expanses of grass represent a significant financial and environmental cost. However, viewed through a different lens, they can also be seen as a tremendous source of opportunity. Access to land is a major barrier for many people who want to enter the agricultural sector, and urban and suburban yards have huge potential for would-be farmers wanting to become part of this growing movement.

The Urban Farmer is a comprehensive, hands-on, practical manual to help you learn the techniques and business strategies you need to make a good living growing high-yield, high-value crops right in your own backyard (or someone else's). Major benefits include low capital investment and overhead costs, reduced need for expensive infrastructure and easy access to markets.

Growing food in the city means that fresh crops may travel only a few blocks from field to table, making this innovative approach the next logical step in the local food movement. Based on a scalable, easily reproduced business model, The Urban Farmer is your complete guide to minimizing risk and maximizing profit by using intensive production in small leased or borrowed spaces.

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For the Thoughtful Gardener

The Carefree Garden: Letting Nature Play Her Part, by Bill Terry

About the book: What happens when a lifelong gardener finally realizes that he must collaborate with Mother Nature rather than work against her in order to achieve his dream of creating the perfect garden? In this delightful and thoughtful narrative journey of horticultural discovery, Bill Terry asks how and even why we garden, and to what end? 

These are personal stories, thoughts, and ideas about the "perfect" garden interspersed with humorous, imagined conversations with Mother Nature herself. As he works in his West Coast garden, choosing wild roses over the fancy hybrid teas, and discarding manmade hybrids and cultivars in favour of the charm and simplicity of peonies, hellebores, and tulips as they grow in the wild, Terry learns to welcome and encourage happy accidents, greatly reducing the work and effort required to maintain order (as most gardeners seek to do), and instead embracing a substantial measure of disorder. 

The perfect garden, he discovers, respects both Mother Nature’s demands—integrating endemic plants, choosing natural species and varieties—and the gardener’s personality—expressing her own taste and creativity, and rich in private memories. This is a light-hearted and witty collection of reflections that will appeal to gardeners everywhere.

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Save the Bees!

Victory Garden for Bees, by Lori Weidenhammer

About the book: A hive of knowledge about gardening for the bees.

Who knew modern Civilization may be brought down, not by plagues or war, but by bees? Or, more correctly, by no bees? This book investigates the growing problem of bee mortality and offers practical measures we can all take to help. In ecological terms, bees play a critical role in the survival of many plant communities and continuation of life on this planet. No pollination, no seeds. No seeds, no future.

Now that bees are facing unprecedented levels of die-off caused by a toxic mixture of environmental stresses, a community-based effort is needed to make gardens, fields and landscapes healthy sanctuaries for bees. Just as citizens banded together to produce Victory Gardens to offset the perilous food shortages of World Wars I and ii, now a similarly vital level of collective effort is needed to make our gardens into lifesaving shelters for these essential creatures.

Planning a bee-friendly space can provide a beautiful and bountiful selection of edible crops, native plants and fragrant ornamentals, as well as herbs that have medicinal properties for both pollinators and people. With the help of ten inspiring garden plans and planting guides, Weidenhammer shows how bee-friendly plants can be used in creative combinations for plots and pots of all sizes, and are easily grown by novices and seasoned gardeners alike. In the spirit of the history-making Victory Gardens, readers will learn how to pack optimum benefits into a limited space for the survival of hive and home, and backyard beekeepers will learn great planting strategies for making sure their honey bees are healthy and have ample food for winter.

Victory Gardens for Bees is also buzzing with DIY projects that will provide nesting sites and essential supplies for precious pollinators. With plenty of photographs to help readers identify bees of all stripes, beekeeping tips and other interesting bee-phemera, this book is a must-have for anyone who wants to do their part to save bees.

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May 12, 2016
Books mentioned in this post
Your First Garden

Your First Garden

A Landscape Primer for New Home Owners
edition:Paperback
More Info
Atlantic Coastal Gardening (pb)

Atlantic Coastal Gardening (pb)

Growing Inspired, Resilient Plants by the Sea
edition:Paperback
tagged :
More Info
Food to Grow

Food to Grow

A simple, no-fail guide to growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs
by Frankie Flowers
photographs by Shannon Ross
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : vegetables, canada
More Info
Power of Pulses, The

Power of Pulses, The

Saving the World with Peas, Beans, Chickpeas, Favas and Lentils
edition:Paperback
tagged : rice & grains
More Info
Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs

Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs

Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden, with 100 Recipes
edition:Paperback
tagged :
More Info
Why Grow Here

Why Grow Here

Essays on Edmonton's Gardening History
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Fix Your Garden

Fix Your Garden

Get Your Outdoor Space Blooming in No Time at All
edition:Hardcover
tagged :
More Info
Native Plants for the Short Season Yard

Native Plants for the Short Season Yard

Best Picks for the Chinook and Canadian Prairie Zones
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
The Urban Farmer

The Urban Farmer

Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land
edition:Paperback
tagged : urban
More Info
The Carefree Garden

The Carefree Garden

Letting Nature Play Her Part
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : essays
More Info
Victory Garden for Bees

Victory Garden for Bees

A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees
edition:Paperback
tagged : reference
More Info
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