“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” – MAY SARTON
IT’S COMING, HONEST IT IS. Gardening season is about to burst upon us, with nurseries and big box stores loaded with seed packets, plants, soil and mulch. Of course, there is winter clean-up to tackle first: all those downed branches, the gravel that’s migrated from the driveway onto the lawn, the beds, leaves and weeds begging for attention. Yes, before we plant, we must prep, but we also need a jolt of inspiration to occupy the mind while the arms wield the rake. Herewith, a sampling of books to seed your ideas for the season of 2017.
The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming
by Jean-Martin Fortier, New Society Publishers, 2014
This book is packed with valuable information on how to make the most of your vegetable patch. Martin and his wife run a 1.5-acre microfarm in Eastern Quebec. Beautifully illustrated with line drawings, the handbook covers everything from garden design and charts for intensive planting to flame weeding and efficient harvesting. The five appendices alone are worth the price of admission.
Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening
by Louise Riotte, Story Publishing, 1998
First published in 1975, it has sold more than 500,000 copies. Riotte died in 1998 at age 82, but her lifetime of gardening wisdom lives on. Why try companion planting? Simple, you get more robust plants and fewer pests. Cucumbers, for example, like beans, peas and radishes. And cucumber beetles loathe radishes. Problem solved. This book is an A-Z growing guide, with charming illustrations by its author. The garden plans are particularly helpful, offering layouts for the model companion garden, the weekend garden, the kitchen herb garden, even the aphrodisiac herbal window box!
The New Canadian Garden by Mark Cullen, with Marette Sharp
Dundurn Press, 2016
Like Ed Lawrence, Mark Cullen is a household name, and this new book looks to the future, with a focus on trends like small food plots and environmental considerations. You’ll find sections on the best varieties of veggies for containers and raised beds; pests and diseases; gardening for biodiversity; and gardening with kids – all enlivened by fine photographs. All author royalties are going to the planting of 117,000 trees along Canada’s Highway of Heroes.
100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens
by Lorraine Johnson, Douglas & McIntyre, 2017
The third edition of this 1999 book was just released, which speaks to its timeless content. Johnson has had her hands in the dirt for three decades. She was president of the North American Native Plant Society and views gardening as “a deep and meaningful conversation with the planet.” The book is alphabetical by common name, with each plant getting a full page and lush photograph by Andrew Leyerle. It’s a stunning primer on native plants.
Gardening Grief and Glory by Ed Lawrence,
Tatlock Woods Publishing, 2006
How can one man answer so many questions?! If you listen to CBC Radio, you’ll know about Ed and likely tune in every Monday at 12:30 to hear his response to things like: “My mother will be moving this fall and she has a 10-year-old magnolia she’d like to take with her. Can I dig it up and move it with her?” This book captures Ed’s detailed responses to this and hundreds of other questions. It’s organized by month and has a killer index for quick reference.