April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
With a nod to APRIL IS POETRY MONTH and gratitude to T.S. Eliot for penning the masterpiece "The Waste Land", I must go in a different direction. I love April. It's all about the warming of earth in the best way: thawing, sprouting, greening, wormy, wet and fertile. April 22 is Earth Day, a celebration of Mother Earth and all that she gives and a reminder that we must cherish our planet and take care of our natural resources.
April is the perfect time to celebrate a wonderful publishing house that brings to our shelves books that embody the hallmark and mission of Earth Day, not to mention books that delight the senses and appeal to our inner foodie. Chelsea Green, based in White River Junction, Vermont, was founded in 1985 and for 26 years has been the publishing leader for books on the politics and practice of sustainable living. We love selling Chelsea Green books because they are beautifully produced in an environmentally mindful way. And sometimes a little on the quirky side, thought provoking and also often very practical.
Their gardening books are superb. One of my favorites is The New Food Garden: Growing Beyond the Vegetable Garden by Frank Tozer. This comprehensive, user friendly volume tells you all you need to know about creating a successful home garden that is efficient, beautiful and produces an abundance of food with a minimum of work and resources. Tozer's inspiration springs from peasant gardeners around the world. His philosophy of gardening is compelling and the book itself is fun to peruse, so all of you armchair gardeners will enjoy it, too.
If you want to have a home garden but space is an issue I suggest you take a look at Fresh Food From Small Spaces: The Square Inch Gardener's Guide to Year Round Growing, Fermenting and Sprouting by R.J. Ruppenthal.
It shows you how to transform your balconies and windowsills into productive space. How about chickens on your patio?
Then, of course, there's the matter of fertilizing your garden. That's where Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind by Gene Logsdon comes in to play. Farmer Logsdon is passionate about manure, according to him our greatest and most misunderstood natural resource.
Weighing in on the eternal debate over the global impact of meat consumption, Meat: A Benign Extravagance by Simon Fairlie offers a groundbreaking argument for meat production as a crucial part of a sustainable, small-scale holistic farming system. Important food for thought, but I don't recommend pasturing a steer on your patio.
And then, for those of you who appreciate the slow food, farm to table philosophy but like to participate at the consumption level, Chelsea Green is distributing a beautiful volume produced by Slow Food Editore of Italy, The Slow Food Dictionary to Italian Regional Cooking. It is a great resource from the originators
of the movement. Comprehensive, beautifully illustrated, with insights not only about Italian cooking but its people, language, history and culture. Boun appetito!
Happy gardening. Love your Mother(earth).
(originally published as The Book Lady column on gabbygourmet.com)