We look at the newest batch of garden-related books and find works on growing veggies with flowers, savoring the garden throughout the seasons, and much more.
You’ve probably heard of nose-to-tail eating. To your growing repertoire, add “stem to core” and “root to top” for fruits vegetables. The story behind this book is a heartfelt tale about community, local produce, and food security from Sarah Marshall, a former social worker who worked with at-risk youth.
Food equals love, so Marshall often carried home leftover produce, such as an abundance of leftover apples from local farmers, and created simple dishes such as applesauce for the kids she worked with. Applesauce led her to Haute Sauce, her line of small-batch products based in Portland, Oregon, and now she is leading the way with Preservation Pantry: Modern Canning from Root to Top & Stem to Core (Sarah Marshall; Regan Press; $24.95). You may never eat plain grape jelly again once you experience grape jam with toasted pine nuts. Our absolute-musthave favorite: Cherry Bomb Hot Sauce—savory and oh-so-good on so many things.
PRESTO, CHANGE-O, new kinds of pesto! Time to try dozens of new nonbasil pesto recipes and change up the dinner menu with The Pesto Cookbook: 116 Recipes for Creative Herb Combinations and Dishes Bursting with Flavor (Olwen Woodier; Storey Publishing; $16.95). With so many international and off-the-cuff variations of this beloved condiment, your possibilities are endless. Make some French pistou or Italian gremolata, exotic chermoula from Morocco, chimichurri and tempero from Argentina and Uruguay, or pipian verde from Central America and Mexico. The trick is to use whatever is at hand. Mix herbs and oil, with or without garlic, with or without nuts, with or without cheese, and maybe a splash of something acidic such as vinegar or lemon juice for brightness. This is an excellent excuse to “make stuff up” on all things savory.
A HEARTFELT, elegant love letter to the garden, The Garden in Every Sense and Season (Tovah Martin; Timber Press; $24.95) will ring familiar with gardeners everywhere. Martin named her garden “Furthermore,” a nod to her penchant for continually overextending herself as a weed warrior and garden adventurer. This gem of a book is divided into seasons—spring, summer, autumn, and winter—and each season is heralded for its magic and wonder for the senses: sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. Spring sneaks in with its “not-somellow yellows,” summer is a party with night music and stormy weather, and autumn is a carnival of color and abundant harvests. Winter is the sparkling season, wrought in snow and ice, tempered by the caretaking of 200 houseplants, two goats, and the charming company of Einstein, who is part Maine coon cat. Furthermore, indeed.
GARDENERS ARE, by nature, innovative folks. Hand them this instruction book for 35 new projects, and they will head right to the toolbox. Garden Builder: Plans and Instructions for 35 Projects You Can Make (Joann Moser; Cool Springs Press; $24.99) has so many cool projects, it’s hard to know where to start. The copper trellis is a great way to use up small leftover pieces of pipe, but don’t limit yourself to copper. Next, make a colorful bottle-tree garden statue. There is a clever side table that does double duty displaying a miniature garden at the perfect height for small gardeners to tend while also providing a great spot to place your iced tea. The elegant fire-cube tower is perfect for the patio, pool, or walkway, so make more than one. We didn’t even know you could make a bat hotel with a pup catcher. Power to the people—especially people with power tools!
A BUZZ-WORTHY BOOK if ever there was one: Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them (Paige Embry; Timber Press; $25.95). Native bees, like honeybees, are in serious decline. Our native bee species are exceptional pollinators and as much as 80 times more effective than European honeybees at pollinating our most vital food crops. One acre of fruit trees needs about 40,000 honeybees to do what 250–750 blue orchard bees can do. Mason bees or blue orchard bees excel at pollination of food crops, while leaf-cutter bees are saviors of the alfalfa fields. There are 4,000 kinds of native bee species, responsible for pollinating most of the flowering plants in this country. Their decline is due to many factors: disease, loss of habitat, and pesticides. Knowledge is power, and knowing which plants foster native bee populations is a good place to start.
THERE’S A LOT OF SHAKIN’ going on in happy vegetable and flower gardens, and we like it that way. In Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty (Lisa Mason Ziegler; Cool Springs Press; $21.99), the author explains the magic of adding a generous planting of flowers to vegetable gardens. Flowers attract a wide range of pollinators and beneficial insects. Improved pollination means more vegetables. Her recommended ratio for excellent pollination and production is 40 percent annual cutting flowers to 60 percent annual food crops. Mason Ziegler has been a cut-flower farmer for almost 20 years and welcomes all the beneficial insects that she can attract to her garden, including assassin bugs, sweat bees, mason bees, and ladybugs. The colorful bonus: You can be cutting flowers twice a week for yourself and friends. Plant. More. Flowers.
STRAW BALES are the go-to method for growing food in locations where gardening and farming are problematic. Straw Bale Solutions: Creative Tips for Growing Vegetables in Bales at Home, in Community Gardens, and Around the World (Joel Karsten; Cool Springs Press; $24.99) lays out this relatively simple solution and shows how it works in climates and situations all over the world. Made of straw, leaves, grasses, or other compostable materials, bales are all about the process of decomposition, the warmth it provides, and the beneficial micro-organisms that result from the process of decay. In urban areas, straw bales can become clean garden beds resting atop contaminated soils. In Cambodia, bales of sugarcane host productive gardens despite flood and drought cycles. In sandy areas of South Africa, bales grow nutritious crops. This book can liberate those who struggle to grow food due to poor soil or lack of land.