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)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Garden Art Makes A Splash at Lang Creek

A school of life-sized salmon sculptures now greets visitors to Lang Creek. 

The "Salmon Garden" is the latest in a series of garden projects coordinated by the Lang Creek Garden Steering Committee and developed by many Friends of the Garden and community supporters.

The new art installation, which has been months in the planning, features thirteen metal sculptures gifted to the project by Powell River metal artist Peter Elvy.  Peter is passionate about the environment and excited to realize his blacksmithing skills could be used to make a statement about the importance of restoration and salmon enhancement.  Always the conservationist, Peter used recycled, plate steel and rebar in the crafting of the fish. 

A host of volunteers, equipment operators and donors were ready and willing to do their part to hatch the new project.  A vote of thanks is due each and every one of them. 

George Illes installed the metal anchoring rods to secure the fish and contracted the landscaping materials.  Terry Gustafson and Adams Concrete supplied and delivered the soil.  Rick Manson looked after the preliminary excavations.  Pete's Plumbing provided irrigation materials.  Dave Williams did a marvelous job with his machine work and artistic placement of the large, feature rocks donated by Mark Hassett.

Powell River artist, Wendy Halliday, and visiting artist, Judith Gilley from Shawnigan Lake, who is Michael Stewart's sister, were most helpful with their suggestions for layout and placement of the fish.

Fortunately, early in the planning stage, the Salmon Garden caught the imagination of grass expert, Ewan MacKenzie.  A horticulturist from Abbotsford, Ewan is well known in gardening circles throughout BC.  He visited Lang Creek in the fall of 2009 as a guest speaker for the Powell River Garden Club.  Impressed with Lang Creek Garden initiatives and the roles played by many volunteers, Ewan offered to design a layout with ornamental grasses to compliment the sculptures.  He generously donated sixty-one plants through his business, Exemplar Horticulture. 

While the Lang Creek gardens feature native plants of southcoastal British Columbia, the design team agreed to use non-native ornamental grasses for impact to lend colour and dramatic highlights to the installation.

On November 13th, Ewan delivered the new arrivals to the site and supervised and assisted with the planting.  Friends of the Garden volunteers enthusiastically spread loads of soil and helped with the planting.  As a result of their work, four different varieties of grasses including Festuca idahoensis, Panicum virgatum, Deschampsia cespitosa and Molinia caerulea now form a beautiful wave-like pattern.

Three pieces of Lois Lake driftwood, contributed by Barb and Dave Rees, add a finishing touch to the new garden.

In the Spring of 2011, the Salmon Garden will be completed with a crushed rock pathway and bench seating constructed by Lane Large with funds donated by the Oceanview Student Council.  

All involved in the project are delighted with the results and agree that it is a joy to see the fish and grasses dancing in the wind and occasional flurries of snow!  Our many visitors are already catching the action with their cameras.

Once again, we gratefully acknowledge all volunteers, donors and contributors for making the Salmon Garden a reality.  It takes a village to build a garden!

For more information about the Lang Creek Garden Projects, please contact Steering Committee Members -- Liz Kennedy, Michael Stewart, Gail Scholefield; Laura Johnson, Powell River Salmon Society Garden Rep; Shirley Cole, Master Gardener

Article kindly submitted by Gail Scholefield

Sunday, December 5, 2010

November 30th, 2010
Presented by Guest Speaker, Bill Reid, Director, Powell River Parks Recreation & Culture

Wintry weather may have postponed our November 23rd meeting, but couldn't deny us the entertaining and educational evening provided by our Guest Speaker, Bill Reid.  Not only did Bill demonstrate the planting of a terrarium, he shared helpful and thrifty hints with us...and much laughter! 

For an informative website on terrariums, please click here   

Bill suggested containers to use for terrariums: 
  • glass carboys (wine making jugs)
  • glass storage containers of varying sizes, with or without lids
  • fish tanks
  • brandy snifters
Basically any clear glass container.   Tinted or cloudy glass greatly  reduces light transmission and interferes with plant growth and health.

Bill added the gravel, charcoal, pre-moistened moss, and soil. 
He prepared planting holes, removed the small plants from their pots, compacted their roots and soil by rolling in paper, and pushed/dropped those 'babies' into their new home. 
Bill kindly donated the Terrarium Extraordinaire as a prize and it accompanied lucky Club Member, Katie Cheung, home. 

As if that wasn't enough fun, we also enjoyed bidding on all the wonderful garden-related donations made by our Club Members.  Proceeds of the Auction will be donated to Powell River's Christmas Cheer.  Thank you everyone for your support!