Sunday, November 18, 2007

If I had read this book last spring, I might not have time to write this post

(Note: The above link goes to the 1994 ed, but my review is based on the 1989 ed.)

While excavating my spare bedroom a couple weeks ago, i ran across a stash of gardening books I'd bought at a plant sale last spring (Yes, that does tell you how long it's been since I cleaned my spare bedroom. Sad, isn't it?) Anyway, one of them, Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest, caught my eye. We're heading into winter, and I'm dying for something garden-related to do. There's always winter sowing, but it's still a bit early (i.e. warm) for that. And of course I could pull weeds, but that isn't much fun.

Back to the book. I curled up with it on a foul, rainy day, with high hopes that it would give me some good ideas for the next sun break. Alas, no. If I wanted to have edible stuff in the garden to play with now, I should have planted it last summer. Bummer. Who thinks to read a book about winter gardening in June? That said, this book is a useful companion for rainy day gardeners, because it includes detailed information about growing a variety of cool-season crops into late fall and, in some cases, winter. Here's an outline of the contents:

Chapter 1: The Principles of Winter Gardening
This chapter covers Northwest climate (especially the difference between the northern and southern regions of our wet little paradise), site (with great info on how to choose sites that will stay as warm as possible during the cold months), some principles of organic gardening, and more.

Chapter 2: Cloches and Frames
In which we learn the various ways to fend off the winter cold with various forms of protection. Interestingly, greenhouses aren't mentioned. I need to find a book on growing edibles in greenhouses in the Northwest.

Chapter 3: Sharecroppers
No, this chapter isn't a digression into agricultural economics in the American South a hundred years ago. Rather, it's a catalog of garden pests and how to deal with them in mostly nontoxic ways.

Chapter 4: Which Vegetables and Herbs to Grow
The longest section of the book, this chapter is an alphabetical list of vegetables and herbs that grow in the cold months, with detailed information on planting times and varieties to choose.

Appendix A gives brief information on winter gardening in other parts of the country, referring to available books on the topic. Appendix B lists winter crops for livestock, Appendix C is a directory of seed sources and organizations, and Appendix D is a list of resources for further reading.

Now I just need to keep my copy handy for when I prepare my seed orders for the spring. So much for instant gratification.

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