A knowledge-hungry greenmom visits the library and finds some really good stuff...
In my recent zeal for getting my newly landscaped garden happy and producing, I have been borrowing books from the library at a fairly alarming rate. (And unlike most of the books I get from the library, I’m actually reading these!)
I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m interested in the whole idea of “permaculture,” basically an approach to gardening which seeks to keep plants and humans in healthy mutually beneficial relationship to one another, looking at the garden as a self-maintaning ecosystem of which humans are a part. I am currently reading Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden, a really excellent introduction to permaculture on a home-garden scale. This book not only gives specific techniques for how to “do” permaculture, but more importantly (to me) it gives a really good explanation of the philosophy behind permaculture and eco-gardens, so that after a bit one is able to envision ideas on one’s own. I really like it—this may be one I go out and buy once I have to return it.
Another interesting book, though one I probably won’t go out and buy now that I’ve read it, is Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. It gives pretty good detail on what looks like a really cool and easy way to garden, if you have access to enough organic materials like leaves and manure and grass clippings and peat—you just layer them one on top of the other in autumn, let them “cook” over the winter (during which time the 18-24 inches of Stuff you put down in layers decayed down to a lovely rich 6-8 inches of composted goodness), and then just plant right in there. The author has had a lot of really good experience with the method, and it’s sort of like what we did in our yard last fall. From my perspective the weakness of the method is that it really does assume one has a huge enough yard to generate a whole lot of grass clippings, access to lots of compost and/or manure, and so forth. Here in the burbs, it's more of a challenge, although we've persuaded most of our neighbors to give us their autumn leaves and there's a horse stable nearby where the manure is free.
And finally, the one I just grabbed off the shelf at the library, Rodale’s Low-Maintenance Gardening Techniques. The title appealed to this very lazy gardener, and I'm really glad I impulsively grabbed it. This is another one I may have to buy, just because it’s such a good basic reference book for growing all kinds of things without doing any more work than absolutely necessary. And like Gaia’s Garden, it explains why certain techniques and methods work better than others, which makes the principles fairly easy to apply across the board.
So, out to you—does anyone have any other favorite gardening references? I’m jumping into the pool with both feet, into the deep end. I’d love to avoid as much of the “error” portion of “trial and error” as possible, so any additional information I can acquire would be awesome!
--Jenn the Greenmom