Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dispatch From the Field: Joe's Starting This Year's Garden

Folks, it's that time of year when I'm spending almost all my free time thinking about my garden. I've got plants started in my seed room, and last week got a few early spring seeds in the ground (peas, radishes, etc) But almost every garden workday begins with consulting a garden book or two. One of my go-to books for garden questions is The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosh. This book is a treasure-trove of garden knowledge... from soil preparation to harvest, this book has it all. I especially spend a lot of time reading, and re-reading the sections on the individual types of plants... Now that the book has been revised to be 100% organic, it's especially useful for me, since I'm an organic farmer. The sections on dealing with pests is indispensable.
Another book I go to frequently is Garden Wisdom & Know-How from Rodale Gardening. It's a huge
book, and has tons of information in it... sometimes I don't always find what I'm looking for...not because it's not in there (because this book seems to be an exhaustive resource for the organic gardener) but because I've gotten sidetracked reading about something else. The book is, just like "The Garden Primer," very readable, and extremely useful.
A book that I've read again and again is Michael Pollan's Second Nature... It's not as well-known as The Omnivore's Dilemma, but was my introduction to Pollan, and still my favorite of his books. This is one of the best books I use to get myself psyched up for gardening, to remind myself why I love it even if it's the middle of summer and I'm worn out and I want it to rain and I want the bugs to quit eating my produce... I read this, and I'm reminded how important the work is. And the lessons Michael Pollan shares in this book are ones every gardener should here.
Now that I live in the country, you'd think I wouldn't want to read about urban gardening... but the way urban farming has taken off in this country excites me. And Farm City by Novella Carpenter is just a wonderful book. Inspiring, funny, and worth a re-read!
On a similar subject, and also a great book is My Empire of Dirt by Manny Howard. His story, like Novella Carpenter's continues to inspire me to get out and get dirty. If urban farming is a revolution, these are two of the key texts for this revolution!
Another, more recent book is Growing a Farmer by Kurt Timmermeister. This book is entertaining, informative, and quite funny.

These are some of my favorite books about gardening. These are books that I either consult on a nearly daily basis, or ones that I return to every year to revive my love of gardening, to inspire me to get out and try new things in the garden. They're especially great on those days when you can't get outside because it's raining (or snowing) but you've still got the craving to be a part of your garden!


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