Country Gardens - - Contents -

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.

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