I am a fantasy gardener. I read gardening books, peruse seed catalogs and wander through the rows of seedlings at my local garden center, all without having so much as a square inch of outdoor space to call my own. There were two seasons (several years ago) when I managed to secure a plot in a community garden, but it was very far from my home and so thoroughly infested with mosquitoes that I’d be swollen and itchy within just a few minutes (I’m a bit allergic to mosquito bites), so I gave it up.
Still, I like to imagine what it might be like to have a convenient spot for growing a few things and I fuel these daydreams with books. Here are a few of the ones I’ve enjoyed most in recent days. Whether you actually have a garden or you’re a fantasy gardener like me, they’re all particularly good reads about growing things.
The first book is Apartment Gardening by Amy Pennington. This one came out two years ago and is such a hopeful volume for those us of without a yard (it still doesn’t help me too much, with no balcony and only north-facing windows, but my geography doesn’t stop me from liking it).
It’s the perfect primer for those who are growing edible things in small pots and containers. It will hold your hand through seed starting and hardening off. It contains instructions on how to build planter boxes and worm bins. And, it has a bunch of recipes offering a variety of ways to use up your harvest (I dream of someday making the pea vine dumplings. Don’t they sound wonderful!). It’s a lovely, intuitive book and it perfect for new gardeners.
Gardening for Geeks by Christy Wilhelmi is a more recent release and approaches gardening from a far more scientific perspective. It will help you orient your garden, build your raise beds, test and amend your soil and even figure out your frost dates. There’s lots in here about different styles of gardening (organic, biodynamic, French intensive, etc) and the hows and whys of pruning.
There’s also a stash of recipes towards the back of the book, including sesame roasted radishes and basic instructions for canning up those tomatoes.
If you’re the type who isn’t satisfied by cursory explanations and needs a more thorough discussion of why and how, this book is perfect for you.
Last up is The Complete Kitchen Garden by Ellen Ecker Ogden. The balance of this book swings more heavily towards recipes than garden advice, but for this fantasy gardener, that actually works out pretty well because it means there’s more ways for me to interact with it. Still, it’s got pretty garden layouts, advice for plant rotation and tips for patio gardens.
For those of you who are actually gardening this season, what are your favorite resources for growing advice and wisdom?