Garden books offer a wealth of ideas, whatever your skill or space


Gardening was one of the first hobbies people took up during the pandemic. Now many of these gardeners are ready to up their game. At the same time, gardening newbies are looking for advice and inspiration.

Five recent books offer practical advice and plenty of encouragement for creating the garden, patio or windowsill of your dreams. No matter what kind of space you have, there is a way to bring the richness of plants into your life.

Whether it’s growing microgreens on a table or sowing wildflower seeds in a field, gardening brings people back to the rhythm of the seasons and the feel of dirt in their hands.

Why we wrote this

Watching a seedling cross the ground or harvesting our own produce can bring joy and pride. Gardening, whatever space we have, feeds our families and ourselves.

More and more people are discovering the joys of growing things big and small – from pots on the windowsill to overturning a section of lawn to make room for native plants and pollinators. Easing the boundaries between indoors and outdoors by caring for plants was one of the first hobbies people cultivated for long months at home during the pandemic. If, after a few successful seasons, you’re ready to up your game, here’s a selection of new titles to inspire, encourage and even entertain as you prepare to dig in the dirt and watch your garden grow.

Small spaces are no problem

Successful gardening doesn’t require a big, sunny yard, as apartment dweller Amy Pennington proves. Small space gardening: growing vegetables, fruits and herbs in small outdoor spaces. Pennington, who gardens with containers in a 75-square-foot space in Seattle, urges city dwellers to foster an intimate connection with the things that grow: “To be successful in container gardening, you must think like a plant,” writes- she.

Why we wrote this

Watching a seedling cross the ground or harvesting our own produce can bring joy and pride. Gardening, whatever space we have, feeds our families and ourselves.

To start, remember to feed their roots, and choose the containers accordingly. Porous clay pots have a nice rustic look, but plastic pots are lighter to move around and retain moisture longer. Or use a bag of potting soil as a “container”. Since you’re a small space gardener, your gardening tools can also be tiny, such as forks (instead of rakes), spoons (instead of trowels), and measuring cups (instead of shovels) to mix and move the soil.

Pennington is an advocate of using your space for “experiments and experience” and encourages growers to pick their battles: If you can’t grow tough tomatoes, check out the heirloom offerings at the farmers. Lettuces, herbs and edible flowers provide quick and easy rewards. Pennington also includes a few windowsill recipes and projects, like a garden of microgreens.

back to earth

If you’ve ever fantasized about trading city life for foraging for your own food, Tamar Haspel, who writes a column on food politics for The Washington Post, has done it for you in her hilarious memoir. To Grow Bold: Find Joy, Adventure, and Dinner in Your Own Backyard.

Haspel and her husband, Kevin, returned to their New York roots during the 2008 financial crisis and bought a “very cabin” home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The memoir focuses on Haspel’s challenge to expand their skills in urban rooftop gardening: eat at least one thing every day for a year that they get first-hand. In other words, the food they grew, fished, hunted or gathered.

It kicks off an odyssey to figure out what exactly will grow in their sandy backyard (shiitake mushrooms) and extends to digging up oysters, drilling holes in the ice to fish, herding flying turkeys, evaporating sea salt into a gastronomic delicacy, and eventually “harvesting” deer from a friend’s overpopulated land, among other adventures.

Haspel, who writes the award-winning “Unearthed” column, puts his skills as a science journalist to work solving the complex issues of living off the land and attracts readers with his many awards.

A guide for each step

Ready to roll up your sleeves and create your own garden? Gardening for everyone: growing vegetables, herbs and more at home by Julia Watkins is a great resource for beginners.

Designed as a guide for each stage of the growing season, this book offers plenty of tips and DIY projects from analyzing how much sun your yard or patio receives to determining the best growing method for you – raised beds or small containers. There are tips for understanding and testing your soil, and improving it by composting.

This book also grows with you. Each year of gardening brings new expertise and opportunities to expand the functionality of your garden, whether it’s using native plants to support local pollinators and birds or growing your own vegetables and flowers from seeds.

A chapter titled “Playing” reminds readers that digging in the dirt is fun at any age and includes projects such as making stepping stones, a gourd birdhouse and edible flower lollipops, along with some recipes. Beautiful photographs provide places to rest amidst all the great information and instructions, and wide margins invite you to take notes about your own garden.

let them come

If you are an experienced gardener but want to take it to the next level, Plant Grow Harvest Repeat: Grow an abundance of vegetables, fruits and flowers by mastering the art of succession planting by Meg McAndrews Cowden will help you create a garden with consistent blooms that delight and produce that nourish. The author turned his backyard hobby into a full-time job and did it all in Minnesota’s short growing season.

Consider this book a useful guide for the thoughtful gardener who prefers organic practices. Succession gardening, where one cycle of growth transitions into the next, promises maximum yield for your garden while making maximum use of space. Starting with fast-growing radishes and cool-weather greens, Cowden instructs gardeners with charts and graphs through the crowded mid-season, ending with beans and sweet corn in August and back. late-harvest green vegetables.

If that doesn’t keep you busy enough, planting perennials and annuals in succession ensures pops of color and regular food for pollinators. Cowden explains the art of interplanting in effectively balancing plants as they compete for light, water and nutrients, and lists some of his favorite flower and vegetable combinations.

Floral artwork

Gardening is hard work and if you just prefer to enjoy the beauty of cut flowers without having grass stains on your lap The flower hunter: seasonal flowers inspired by nature and picked in the garden by Lucy Hunter is a book charming enough to leave on your coffee table or give as a gift.

Hunter, who had a fine art background before moving into landscaping, lives in North Wales. She leads global floral design workshops and has a strong following on Instagram. His romantic, shabby-chic still lifes – carefully crafted with old treasures and wildly twisted cascades of flowers – offer a kind of escape if you take the time to peruse his photos and linger over the accompanying essays. . Hunter is an artist and she invites readers to “create works that make you happy”.

This book doesn’t offer too much practical instruction, other than a few pages here and there on the best containers and structure for centerpieces etc., but it does encourage readers to really see the beauty of the garden as it is. it changes from season to season.


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