Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible -- Book Review

The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible by Edward C. Smith. As often as I have manned the Plant a Row booth at shows or given talks about Plant A Row I have heard the same statement every time “I don't have the space, just a patio, deck or balcony.” This book answers the question what can I grow on these inhospitable hard surfaces. Soften them up with bold and beautiful planter of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers and shoots.

The book gives you container ideas that are nutritious and colourful. But lets start at the beginning, The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible covers pots, planting mixes, watering, fertilizing and bug control. I have always grown vegetables on my own balcony. Friends use to say driving down Finch Ave they could tell which apartment was mine. Even when I bought a house I have always done vegetable gardening in containers. When the children were small they loved harvesting the potatoes, Russian Banana—and others. Each child had their own vegetable box built for their height that grew taller as they did. I still grow herbs and sunflowers in containers. The sunflowers never fail to attract the gold finches.

Containers offer you less work such as digging & weeding with the reward of fresh, wholesome and nutritious food. This book will help you make it all happen on you patio, balcony or deck.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Preserving The Canning & Freezing Guide for All Seasons -- Book Review


Preserving The Canning & Freezing Guide for All Seasons by Pat Crocker is a great resource. It starts off with Preserving Basics on Home Canning Equipment and Methods & then has step by step instructions with pictures on both the Boiling Water Method & the Pressure Canner Method. There is also a section on freezing. Preserving The Canning & Freezing Guide for All Seasons is also divided into the season, Spring, Summer, Fall & Winter.

Within the Season section, this book is further divided into the categories, Fruit & Vegetable. Subsections for each of the Fruits & Vegetables are the following:  Good Preserving Varieties, Purchasing/Storing, Good With, Preparation & Canning Instructions. There is also information on whether the fruit or vegetable can be frozen or not.  After these sections are recipes focusing on a particular fruit or vegetable.  This makes it easy for you to utilize the seasonal fruits and vegetables.

All in all a fabulous book for both the beginner and experienced canner.  Now I am going to have to expand my canning equipment & invest in a pressure canner.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Green Roof Manual -- Book Review

The Green Roof Manual by Edmund C. Snodgrass and Linda McIntyre is an excellent book for the professional and the amateur who are considering a green roof option. Small or large this book covers the basics of green roofs and walks you through the economics, benefits, risk assessment, guidelines and standards. This book even covers weed control on your green roof. Ha ha you thought you could escape weeds by going up. Not a hope!!.

The first green roof I was ever on was the Chicago City Hall Green Roof. That day insects and butterflies were in evidence. Monarch butterflies in the middle of the Chicago skyscrapers was incredible to see (Roof Garden on Chicago's City Hall). The green roof industry is evolving so quickly that you will need to constantly keep up . The resources section of this green roof manual directs you to organizations to keep yo with the latest changes in both the United States and Canada.

This book get 4 stars because no book can keep up but you need to know and absorb the information before you can move on up.  For Small Green Roofs see review. Small Green Roofs Low Tech Options for Greener Living

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Succulent Container Gardens -- Book Review

Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin. This book both inspires and excites my old jaded gardening soul. The photographs are full colour, accurate and numerous. The how to create the different containers is also covered. This book is so inspiring, my daughter keeps hiding it on me because she wants it. She also wishes to steal one of her mother's ceramic dishes to create a succulent garden. I also sell the topiary teapot on page 180 she is insisting I buy her, so she can plant it with succulents. I want to do the topiary pyramid on page 181. My youngest daughter saw the topiary succulent dog and now wants to do a walking cat of succulents. This book has the whole family ready to do succulent container gardening.

Dad says it inspires his old gardeners soul, well it inspires my newly minted one as well. I like all the information that this book provides because Dad doesn't always explain what he is doing or why. What comes to mind is the cobbler's children going shoeless. There are many pictures of succulents and lots of inspiration in it's pages. We have already planned a trip to the succulent greenhouse to get some for the ceramic pot of Mum's that is empty. I will also have a hand in that topiary pyramid, sticking in what we decide will be the annual succulents. Oh and for the record and posterity. It is MY book!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gardening from a Hammock -- Book Review

Gardening from a Hammock by Ellen Novack & Dan Cooper. This is a neat little soft cover book with vignettes from notable gardeners, horticultural professionals and garden communicators. First of all I must disclose that I know many of them personally and have at one time or another been in their personal gardens.

There is no such thing as a maintenance free garden but a lower maintenance garden is achievable. This book gives you a selection of tried and true plants for 17 different styles of gardens. The plant selection guide is excellent. The plant index uses both the botanical and common name. This is the book for any starting gardener or for any gardener who is thinking of renovating or restyling their existing gardens. My garden has it's white garden, quiet garden and my entire garden is an experimental garden. Gardening from a Hammock is for me, a quick review for rethinking my garden areas especially the quiet garden where I go to hide. This book is both informative and inspirational.

Gardening from a Hammock is available from:
The Toronto Botanical Gardens Bookstore
Selected Sheridan Nurseries
Novacks in London, Ontario

Monday, April 2, 2012

Melissa's Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce -- Book Review

Melissa's Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce by Cathy Thomas.
First and foremost I am not a vegetarian and I will never be one, I love my meat too much. I did find in this book a recipe for Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Cherry Relish & Breaded Chicken Breasts with Celery Salad so there is hope for you who are not vegetarians.

The recipes in this book are easy to achieve without having to run out to the store for the odd or strange ingredient.  Almost every recipe in this book everyone will enjoy eg. Roasted carrots and the Orange-Zest-ed Chocolate Carrot Cake.  I like the fact that the recipes are broken down by the main ingredient eg. banana, cauliflower , carrots, corn, figs ginger spinach Kiwi, & Kumquat etc.  The Party Chili recipe can be made with or without meat and Cathy always recommends that you provide hot sauces separately for those who like their chili fiery hot!

OK!! I like this book even better, I just came across the Blood Orange Sundaes with vodka, ice-cream & cookies. Oh yaaah!!  I have marked this book with many sticky notes.  These are the recipe I want my wife to make me.