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Archive for April, 2012

Monday, April 16th, 2012

The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour (Storey Publishing, 2011)   

Photography by Joseph De Sciose

Collards- Georgia Southern and Pansies

Let me start this book review by admitting that while I love to harvest fresh vegetables (as well as the occasional strawberry) from my garden, I find vegetable gardening much more challenging than flower gardening.   Critters (rabbits and squirrels) are my biggest obstacle. This year I think I have a solution (plans for a low wire fence around my raised beds) but it is early yet. 

With this in mind, each time I pick up The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener,  I am inspired to try and grow more in my vegetable garden.  As I read this book, packed with information and beautiful photographs, I can almost taste the fresh onions or butternut squash I plan to grow.  The author Niki Jabbour lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia and speaks from experience when it comes to growing vegetables for every season.  She recommends intensive methods that promise results even on short, cold winter days. 

For each vegetable entry, in addition to an appealing color photograph, there is detailed information for each season on planting,  growing and harvesting.  There is also a feature I especially like called  ‘Niki’s’ Picks where she recommends and describes her favorite varieties of individual vegetables; although they may not all work equally well in every region of the US.  Additional chapters address garden design, soil building including the “Top Green Manure Crops,” succession planting, cold frames including detailed plans for construction, row houses, hoop houses, cloches and other ideas for gardening in the cold seasons. 

Her explanation and examples (including her favorite combinations) of interplanting provides a useful guide to help you get the most out of your garden. “You should combine plants with different maturity dates, growth patterns, and growing requirements.” There are extensive charts both for succession planting and interplanting. (These are in the Appendixes at that back of the book) 

Other gems of information include instructions on how to save the seed of open-pollinated tomatoes which , “enables gardeners to produce plants that adapted to the climatic conditions of their own backyard.”  The author also includes a chapter on herbs.   Under resources she offers an extensive list of  seed companies in the US and Canada   although as a gardener in the southern US I would have liked to see companies like Southern Exposure Seed Exchange included. 

This is a lovely book that anyone with the goal of growing a vegetable garden that offers crops to harvest throughout the year (especially in regions with cold winters) will find invaluable.

Spring blooms in my Garden

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

When I’m not worried about plants blooming a month earlier than they did last year I am enjoying spring in my garden.  Here are a few of the plants that please me.  I don’t know what May will bring but April is a delight.

Amsonia hubrichtii and Heuchera 'Pistache'

Clematis 'Miss Bateman'

Gladiolus byzantinus

Rosa 'Zephirine Drouhin'

Spiraea 'Ogon' Heuchera and Iris

smoke tree, Japanese maple and pansies

Clematis 'Ramona'