A little bit of reading can go a long way to improving your garden style.
The Timber Press Guide to Gardening in the Pacific Northwest by Carol and Norman Hall is a "fabulous book," according to Mail Tribune garden columnist and Master Gardener Carol Oneal. It provides a thorough guide for our climate, with color photos on every page. A large format paperback, this 2008 publication has 352 pages packed full of interesting information for $29.95.
"Everybody should have the Sunset Western Garden Book, and the Garden Guide to the Rogue Valley by the Jackson County Master Gardener Association," says Connie Skillman, owner of Pot Luck Container Gardens in Ashland. She also recommends Sunset's specialized paperbacks on individual topics.
Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers by Rose Marie Nichols McGee & Maggie Stuckey ($17.95.) "is the bible for small space and container gardens — it's just fabulous!" Skillman adds.
Christine Mackison, co-owner of Shooting Star Nursery in Central Point recommends Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs ($69.95).
"I like any book by Michael Dirr because he actually has opinions about plants and not just [plant] descriptions," Mackison says.
For instance, you'll learn our bit of terra firma had its origins "as an unattached land called Terranes somewhere out in the Pacific." And we thought the state of Jefferson was radical separatism!
For $21.95, The Northwest Cottage Garden (2008), by Andrew Schulman, shows how to take the traditional English cottage garden look and create it using plants that thrive in our region. Schulman describes the "structures, furniture, decorative objects and plants that make up a cottage garden" along with their arrangement. This book takes you through the entire process of establishing this garden style.
Another interesting book is Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community by H. C. Flores, 2006, $25. As the title suggests Flores has an agenda, but she also provides a practical guide for transitioning from lawn to vegetables, including how to appease and involve your neighbors.
According to the author, 23 million acres of lawn cost us a collective $30 billion to maintain. Flores writes. "That's an average of over a third of an acre and $517 each. The same sized plot... [could] produce all the vegetables to feed a family of six."
For an experienced look at organic gardening, turn to the English. Edited by Anna Kruger, Grow Organic, $25, emerged from 50 years of research by the United Kingdom-based organic gardening organization of the same name. This hardback synthesizes what they have learned, covering every possible aspect of converting to organic gardening.
It goes beyond recommendations of natural substitutes for synthetic products and describes the cycle of activities necessary for growing organically. According to the authors, "Traditional good gardening — improving the soil, crop rotation, encouraging natural predators, picking off pests and diseased growth by hand, good hygiene and timing of sowing and planting — is combined with more modern techniques, including biological controls, resistant cultivars, pheromone traps, and lightweight crop covers." Anyone attempting to become a organic "purist" should check it out.
How to Store Your Garden Produce; The Key to Self-Sufficiency (2008) by Piers Warren is another English book. For $14.95, this mid-size paperback thoroughly covers storing food. It starts with a review of methods, both common (freezing) and obscure (ever heard of clamping?). It also provides individual sections that review techniques for each food from apples to turnips, with some interesting recipes for jams, butters, ciders, wines and pickles.
Enjoy turning these pages. Pretty soon, you'll be turning soil.