Winter Gardening Reads – Gardening Book Recommendations

It’s winter. What’s a gardener to do? Enjoy a good gardening book! Here are a few on my bookshelf – gardening book recommendations.

Gardening Book Recommendations

It’s wintertime and here in south-central Virginia, we received a foot of snow on Sunday. It’s beautiful outside with the snow sparkling like spun sugar around the Christmas decorations. The cats love snow days because all seven of our felines warm themselves in the house and sleep on our bed at night. All right, not all seven sleep with us – but they try. Oh yes, they try.

In the meantime, I’m starting to miss my garden. We finished raking leaves and spreading them over the strawberry bed just in time. The compost pile lies blanketed under a thick layer of snow and I’ve resorted to a giant compost bucket in my garage until the snow melts enough to trudge out to the compost pile.

The seed catalogs are slow to arrive this year, too. I have the Baker Creek catalog, which is a favorite, but I’m waiting for Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, and the Cecho’s company, Medicinal Herb Seeds. My pen waits to circle all the seeds I long to grow while my bank account reminds me rather waspishly that no, I cannot buy all the plants I wish to…

While I wait for the snow to melt and days to warm, I’m finally getting a chance to read several gardening books that have been waiting for me. Here are three new favorites I’ve completed recently. There’s an Amazon link to each book, and if you click it and buy it, I make a few cents, but it doesn’t affect your price. I am an Amazon affiliate and required to disclose this information to you.

Ready? Here are the latest gardening books I’ve read:

Deep Rooted Wisdom – Skills and Stories from Generations of Gardeners

by Augustus Jenkins Farmer

If you love good gardening stories and clever, creative ways to work with what you have, this book is for you. Farmer knows many old-time gardeners from different cultures but mostly from the south of the United States, and he shares stories, tips, and ideas about how they garden. For example, he shares stories from a Haitian immigrant who transformer her Miami-area lot into a food production paradise; he talks a lot about making garden elements from bamboo, wood, scraps around the property. Be warned, though, he and his partner grow lilies and you will get sick of hearing about his lily farm! But the book really sparked my imagination and I love learning about how other people garden. A fun read that also helps gardeners think different about everything from soil to structures.

The Cook’s Garden

by Sheridan Rogers

I love to cook, and I enjoy growing interesting fruits, vegetables and herbs to play with in the kitchen. Often the vegetables I grow cannot be found in the supermarket or aren’t common and finding recipes can be a challenge. That’s why I absolutely love “The Cook’s Garden.”

The Australian author, Sheridan Rogers, provides recipes for almost every vegetable you can imagine. I found new recipes to try for radishes – I always have tons of radishes in the spring and sometimes you just get sick of eating fresh radishes! There were recipes for aubergines (eggplants), squash, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and all sorts of fruits and herbs, too.

The instructions are simple, the ingredients what I call “normal” – that is, you can find them at any grocery store. Although the book is out of print, you can find plenty of good used copies on Amazon and mine is on order for Christmas (I originally borrowed the book from the library). It’s illustrated with pretty pen and ink drawings rather than photos which adds to its charm. All in all, this is a combination of recipe book and inspiration that I’m finding a great addition to my bookbook library. I can’t wait to play with the recipes all year long!

The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving

by Lee Buttala et al

 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lee Buttala for an article I wrote for the October issue of Virginia Gardener. Lee took the time to explain to me many aspects of seed production that I did not know, especially the nuances of organic, conventional, GMO and other types of seeds. He’s a gardening expert but a humble one; he’s the kind of gardener I’d love to spend an afternoon with just soaking up the wisdom.

Lee kindly sent me a copy of his book, a book which I treasure. If you have every wanted to learn how to property save, store, and share seeds, this is the book for you.

Seed saving used to be a commonplace experience. People saved seeds and shared them with neighbors. My next-door neighbor, Mr. Hoffman, taught me how to save pansy seeds when I was in kindergarten; I learned how to save marigold seeds from him as well. My dad saved seeds from tomatoes and Chinese lantern plants and tried to propagate ferns from spores he collected on his lunchtime walks at work. My family always collected and shared seeds, but I have since learned that this pasttime is fading along with many other skills.

It’s time to relearn those skills and Lee’s book will show you how. Lee and the other contributors to this wonderful volume teach you how to save dozens of seeds including fruit, vegetables, and flowers, as well as how to test them for viability and more. The layout makes it easy to find any plant you’re interested in and the photographs offer gorgeous, tantalizing images to inspire the gardener within. It’s a great book and I recommend it highly.

New to my reading list this week is Michael Pollan’s book, Second Nature – A Gardener’s Education. I borrowed it from the library. Our public library recently added ebook borrowing and I’m in seventh heaven, borrowing books right, left, and center. Thankfully, with the winter snows and my distaste for most television shows, I’m happy to curl up with a great read. If it’s about gardening, so much the better.

 

What’s your favorite gardening book? Share it in the comments and on our Facebook page!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.