Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ten Book Reviews

The Complete Root Cellar Book:  Building Plans, Uses, and 100 Recipes written by Steve Maxwell and Jennifer MacKenzie.  Review by Charmian Christie, Canadian food and travel writer, in Canadian Gardening
"Whether you grow your own vegetables, buy shares in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or have a neighbour with an emerald green thumb, preserving the harvest over the winter can be a challenge.  If you don't own so much as a single Mason jar, cold storage can be the answer, and The Complete Root Cellar Book:  Building Plans, Uses and 100 Recipes by Steve Maxwell and Jennifer MacKenzie provides everything you need but the lumber.

What makes this book unique:  the sheer range of designs and storage ingenuity is impressive.  Detailed plans range from a complete do-it-yourself, walk-in root cellar to a less ambitioius tune-up of an existing cold room.  Got a yard but no basement?  Try and old-fashioned root clamp or outdoor cellar pit.  For apartment and condo dwellers plans include ways to convert a second refrigerator." 



Making More Plants: The Science, Art and Joy of Propagation, written by Ken Druse.  Review by Andrew Vowles in Canadian Gardening

“After an overview of the science of propagation, Druse begins with a discussion of flowers and seeds. In separate chapters, he discusses methods of collecting, conditioning and sowing seeds. However, seeds are only part of the story. Most of the book deals with the range of reproduction practices, including layering, grafting and dividing, using cuttings, geophytes (bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes) and roots.

Particularly useful is Druse's guide to propagating more than 700 plants, including techniques and cultural information on conditioning, temperature and timing. His information usually applies to all members of a genus, although he includes special cultural notes for such genera as Hibiscus, whose species may be hardy, tender, woody or herbaceous.”

Books by this author available at Powell River Public Library:  Water Gardening & The Natural Shade Garden

A History of Canadian Gardening, written by Carol Martin.  Abbreviated Review by Aldona Satterthwaite, Executive Director of Toronto Botanical Garden, in Canadian Gardening

"Carol Martin's book offers a compact overview of gardening in Canada, and a parallel social history to boot. Cleanly written, it is far from being a dull, dusty tome, and engages the imagination as it examines the tribulations and triumphs of pioneering gardeners. The book's pages are peppered with fascinating historical documents and photographs.
The reader is treated to juicy tidbits of information.
Martin covers vast territory and subject matter in her slim book, including subjects as diverse as railroad gardens, seed companies, landscape architects, modern garden gurus-maybe too much territory. Being a sucker for details, I was left feeling hungry for more information. I would have liked to know much more about the astonishing work of some of Canada's horticulturists, for example. But this is a minor quibble."

Books by this author available at Powell River Public Library:  Local Colour:  Writers Discovering Canada

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces, written by Gayla Trail.  Review by Tara Nolan, co-author of Canadian Gardening Blog, in Canadian Gardening

“I really wish I knew about Gayla Trail’s first book, You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening, when I first bought my house. Gayla has a way of making gardening sound so fun and easy and attainable. Her fantastic follow-up, Grow Great Grub, inspires readers to grow their own fruits, veggies, herbs and edible flowers. Teeny tiny yards and balconies are no obstacle, you just have to work with what you have. That might mean growing tomatoes upside down or raising kumquats in your living room. Delicious, interesting recipes make full use of your harvest and a helpful section shows you how to preserve your bounty so that nothing goes to waste. Gayla’s DIY ethos and conversational tone make you want to reach for your gardening gloves and start planting, salvage containers for plants and grow something you haven’t tried before—like potatoes in a metal garbage can!”



The Complete Book of Garlic: A Guide for Gardeners, Growers, and Serious Cooks by Ted Jordan Meredith.

This book is the most comprehensive and in-depth guide available to what surely should be the next gourmet frontier. From 'Ajo Rojo' to 'Zemo', Meredith presents illustrated profiles of nearly 150 cultivars. Detailed chapters cover natural history, the history of garlic in cultivation, the nuances of cuisine and culture, therapeutic benefits, plant structure, how to cultivate, curing and storage, taxonomy, pests and diseases, and chemistry. Especially useful are the Quick Guides, which summarize information on growing and buying garlic and provide recommendations for the best-tasting cultivars for specific uses and climates. Lists of garlic sources and organizations are a boon to the aficionado. Whether you share Ted Jordan Meredith's "garlic affliction" or just find the pungent bulb indispensable, you'll understand it as never before with this meticulously researched, lovingly written exploration.  (Publisher's blurb)
“Few books qualify as coffee table books, and botanical manuscripts, and cultural guides, and cooking guides. The Complete Book of Garlic does all these, and more.” Review by Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener

Locavore by Sarah Elton. Review by Margaret Webb, author of Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms

“Lively, compelling and warm-hearted journalism with a generous helping of rigorous research, Locavore dishes up an insightful look at Canada’s food system: how it once worked, why it fails us now and, most importantly, what we can do to create a sustainable, delicious future.”

Locavore was Oxford American Dictionary’s 2007 word of the year.



West Coast Gardening Natural Insect and Disease Control by Linda Gilkeson.

This indispensable book for West Coast gardeners describes safe and effective ways to control pests in vegetables, fruit, lawns and ornamentals. Over 60 entries provide information on identification, life cycles, prevention and how to use non-toxic controls successfully. It also includes a guide to the least toxic pesticides, an extensive section on beneficial insects and how to attract them and a section on managing weeds in lawns and other areas.

Please check out another very useful book by Linda Gilkeson, Year-Around Harvest: Winter Gardening on the Coast.  Both books are available at Powell River Public Library.

The Zero-Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food by Carolyn Herriot.

This definitive month-by-month guide brings gardeners into the delicious world of edible landscaping and helps take a load off the planet as we achieve greater food security. Full of illustrative colour photos and step-by-step instructions, The Zero-Mile Diet shares wisdom gleaned from 30 years of food growing and seed saving with comprehensive advice on:  growing organic food year-round, the small fruit orchard and backyard berries, superb yet simple seasonal recipes, preserving your harvest, seed saving and plant propagation, dirt-cheap ways to nourish your soil, backyard poultry--it's less time-consuming than you think, growing vegetables in the easiest way possible, and A-z guide to growing the best vegetables and herbs. 


Put organic home-grown fruits and vegetables on your table throughout the year, using the time-saving, economical and sustainable methods of gardening outlined in The Zero-Mile Diet. This book is about REAL food and how eating it will change our lives for the better.  (Publisher's blurb)
Other book(s) by this author available at Powell River Public Library:  A Year on the Garden Path:  A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide

The Art of Botanical Drawing: An Introductory Guide by Agathe Ravet-Haevermans

The Art of Botanical Drawing is an introductory guide to the techniques of botanical painting and drawing. Beginning artists and gardeners looking to capture the beauty of the plants in their garden will learn how to recognize and draw a wide variety of flowers and leaves, including succulents, vegetables, trees, perennials, and grasses. Botanists and naturalists who need to understand the fundamentals of scientific illustration will also find the text useful. Lessons on recognizing and recreating the texture and structural elements of plants are also included. The Art of Botanical Drawing is practical and beautiful -- it includes 150 charming color illustrations and the hands-on approach is accessible to even the most inexperienced budding artist.  (Publisher's blurb)

Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis. "This is sure to gain that well-thumbed look than any good garden book acquires as it is referred to repeatedly over the years." Review by Pacific Horticulture, Fall 2006

Teaming With Microbes enlightens readers in two important ways. First, in clear, straightforward language, it describes the activities of the organisms that make up the soil food web, from the simplest of single-cell organisms to more familiar multicellular animals such as insects, worms, and mammals. Second, the book explains how to foster and cultivate the life of the soil through the use of compost, mulches, and compost teas. By eschewing jargon, the authors make the text accessible to a wide audience, from devotees of organic gardening techniques to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy, vigorous plants without resorting to chemicals.  (Publisher's blurb)

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