Kiss my Aster, Amanda Thomsen 2012
This is probably one of the most fun gardening books I’ve come across in a very long while – “a graphic guide to creating a fantastic yard totally tailored to you” which incorporates amusing drawings and humorous commentary alongside great advice for planning and landscaping your yard. Think of this as a gentle approach for the newbie who isn’t sure if they have it in them to create a great yard and garden – this book breaks it down with a casual approach rather than coming at you all serious-like. For the already-committed gardener, I’m not sure if this has a lot to offer – the information is pretty basic and tailored around having an outdoor space that you want to shape and create. What I do appreciate about it is the emphasis on understanding plants, shrubs and trees over the long-term and how those work to create different effects (not to mention how easy they are to move if you don’t like where you first put them). And did I mention it’s amusing? Definitely reads like a book for the unlikely gardener – which I have a lot of appreciation for, because at one time in my life I was also an unlikely gardener and a book like this would have gone a long way to inspiring me back then.
The Speedy Vegetable Garden, Mark Diacono & Lia Leendertz 2013
I own a lot of gardening books, and I get a fair number of them delivered to my doorstep for review – so I have to say that by now I’ve seen most variations of the encouraging food gardening book. But this one… well….. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a veggie gardening book focused on “speed” which is not an attribute we typically equate with gardening. In fact, as Diacono and Leendertz mention in the introduction – we tend to think of food and other gardening as part of the long view. But as the authors point out, there are plenty of things that are at their best when harvested not long after sowing – sprouts (being the obvious one), micro-greens, early squash with the blossoms still on them, flowers just out of the bud, baby carrots, new potatoes and early-fruiting varieties of tomatoes – just to name a few of the early-season foods you might think about when sowing your garden this year. Nicely photographed, the book includes sowing and harvesting advice for each recommended crop as well as recipes that feature these early spring foods – something that I look forward to trying out as my garden starts to pop (it’s just on the cusp of providing more than radishes right now). If you’re impatient to start eating from your garden in the spring, this book offers a remedy to the wait by encouraging micro-crops and early varieties to tide you over.