Category Archives: Books

Gardening-Related Media Resources in the DC Metro Area

If you are new to the Washington DC metro area and are interested in learning more about gardening, check out the local media. The following is the traditional, not social, media such as newspapers, newsletters, magazines, television, and radio. Social media can be useful as well but there are far too many resources to be able to capture in one article.

Newspaper

Every Thursday, in the Washington Post’s Local Living section, local garden editor Adrian Higgins writes a gardening article. During the growing season, on some Thursdays, Adrian answers questions from the public from noon to 1:00 pm. You can e-mail the question in advance or e-mail during that time period. If you missed the session, you can read the questions and answers in transcript format, online.

Newsletter and Magazine

Pegplant’s Post is a free, subscription-based newsletter for gardeners in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC area. The newsletter is e-mailed at the end of each month and features local gardening articles, tips, events, new books, and a giveaway. See pegplant.com for the sign up form or visit the pegplant Facebook site.

The Washington Gardener is a digital magazine, published monthly for a subscription fee. The pdf file is e-mailed to subscribers.

Television

Fairfax Public Access sponsors the Gardening with Burke Nursery show, hosted by horticulturist Misty Kuceris. Shows are on the first and second Saturdays of the month at 2 pm; first and second Tuesdays of the month at 7:30 am; and first and second Thursdays of the month at 7:30 pm. This is on Channel 10 or 810 on Cox Communications or Channel 10 on Verizon Fios. If you miss it you can catch it on YouTube at Gardening with Burke Nursery. Burke Nursery is in Burke, VA.

PBS has a variety of shows related to gardening. Enter search words such as gardening, garden, landscape design, Virginia, or Maryland. Many are taped and can be viewed online. A Richmond-based show is Virginia Home Grown hosted by Peggy Singlemann and Pat McCafferty. This is a live, call-in show where you can get your questions answered, watch the show on TV, or view taped shows online.

Radio

Andre Viette has a live, call-in radio program called In the Garden with Andre Viette on Saturdays 8:00-11:00 am aired at several local radio stations. You can listen live from your computer or podcast as well.

Mike McGrath, garden editor for WTOP, 103.5 FM, an all news radio station in Washington, DC, has one-minute “Garden Plot” sessions on Saturday and “Yard Warrior” on Friday morning. He writes a gardening column every Friday, posted on WTOP.com. You can e-mail him your gardening issue/questions.

Garden Sense Radio is hosted by Rick Fowler on Saturday, 8:00 to 9:00 am., WMAL AM 630 and 105.9 FM.

Making a Difference: Climate Victory Gardens

Growing Good Food: A Citizen’s Guide to Backyard Carbon Farming by Acadia Tucker could really be titled, What One Homeowner/Gardener Can Do to Combat Global Warming. In fact, I would recommend Acadia’s new book to every gardener to learn how a person can impact the environment through one’s own garden.

Acadia speaks from experience in a simple, easy-to-understand manner. Acadia has a degree in Environmental Science from Pitzer College and a graduate degree in Land and Water Systems from the University of British Columbia. She has translated her farming experience and education for home gardeners to apply within their own garden. Acadia used to manage a market farm in Washington that originally had a “crappy dirt problem.” However, by improving the soil, she was able to produce 200 crops to sell at farmers markets.  Currently she lives in New Hampshire growing hops for local breweries and with her own garden is purposely growing what is good for the environment.

She begins Growing Good Food with explaining how healthy soil, soil high in organic matter and living organisms, absorbs carbon dioxide emissions. The buildup of organic matter in the soil is the essence of regenerative or carbon farming. Gardeners, as well as farmers, should always be interested in building and creating healthy soil for their gardens. Healthy soil retains rainwater and prevents erosion, supports living organisms, and helps plants resist pests and disease. Now gardeners have a new reason, healthy soil absorbs carbon.

About half of the carbon released into the atmosphere is absorbed by oceans, plants, and soil annually. Soil does the most part, storing four times more carbon than plants. However, if the soil is degraded through plowing, stripping, chemicals, and erosion, it is unable to absorb carbon. The way that soil absorbs carbon is through plants. Plants take in carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and eventually carbon goes into the soil. It will stay in the soil at a deep root level if the plant’s roots are left undisturbed. This is why it is important not to till and why perennials, plants that stay in the ground, as opposed to annuals that are usually pulled at the end of the growing season, are preferred.

Acadia does not say that one person’s home garden can change global warming but she does make the case that if you were to look at all the gardens in a community, from a bird’s eye view, then together gardeners can make a difference. She equates this to the Victory Garden movement during World War II. Today, gardeners can make a difference by making Climate Victory Gardens.

She emphasizes the importance of adding organic matter to the soil, composting and mulching, using sheet mulching to create new beds, and growing more perennial food crops than annuals. Perennials, like a bramble or a fruit tree, are deep rooted and are not pulled up every year, thus keeping the carbon in the soil. She does not advocate not growing annuals such as beans but explains the advantages perennials have compared to annuals in terms of creating a Climate Victory Garden.

To learn more about the concept of perennial foods, read Acadia’s first book, Growing Perennial Foods. In Growing Good Food, Acadia describes “starter perennials,” perennial plants that would be easy and of interest to home gardeners, such as the berries, herbs, rhubarb, and walking onion; and the “tender perennials” such as tomatoes and peppers. She also describes how to grow the “favorite garden annuals” such as beans, carrots, and cucumbers but explains how gardeners should re-think in terms of roots and try to minimally disturb the soil.

Acadia also covers gardening issues like where, when, and how to plant a Climate Victory Garden, how to keep it going throughout the year, common diseases and pests, and gardening tools.  This 168-page paperback is an introduction to the larger conversation of making a difference on this planet with one’s own property. It underscores the importance of what gardeners have known all along, the soil is what makes the difference.

If you are interested in purchasing Growing Good Food, visit the publisher, Stone Pier Press, for a 20 percent discount, using the code “pegplant20.” This offer is good until November 9, 2019.

New Gardening Books Published in 2019

Every month I list newly published gardening books on my website under “New Books: 2019” Now that we are mid-year, I thought I would share the 77 titles I have printed so far because this is a great resource for summer reading as well as gift ideas. My 2018 list, which totaled 86 books, is archived under “Books from 2018“. Of course this is not all gardening books, just my recommendations from looking at publishers’ websites, checking with Amazon, or hearing from the authors themselves.

July 2019

Botany at the Bar: The Art and Science of Making Bitters by Selena Ahmed, Ashley Duval, and Rachel Meyer, Roost Books

Compost Teas for the Organic Grower by Eric Fisher, Chelsea Green Publishing

Deer-resistant Design: Fence-free Gardens that Thrive Despite Deer, by Karen Chapman, Timber Press

DIY Mushroom Cultivation: Growing Mushrooms at Home for Food, Medicine, and Soil by Willoughby Arevalo, New Society Publishers

Field Guide to Urban Gardening: How to Grow Plants, No Matter Where you Live by Kevin Espiritu, Cool Springs Press

Grow Your Own Herbs: The 40 Best Culinary Varieties for Home Gardens by Susan Belsinger and Arthur O. Tucker, Timber Press

How to Make a Plant Love You: Cultivate Green Space in Your Home and Heart by Summer Rayne Oakes, Optimism Press

Naturalistic Planting Design by Nigel Dunnett, Filbert Press

Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Sustain a Thriving Garden by Tammy Wylie, Rockridge Press

June 2019

The Whole Okra: A Seed to Stem Celebration by Chris Smith, Chelsea Green Publishing

Plant Parenting by Leslie Halleck, Timber Press

Temperate Garden Plant Families by Peter Goldblatt and John C. Manning, Timber Press

Wildflowers of the Atlantic Southeast, a Timber Press Field Guide by Laura Cotterman, Damon Waitt, and Alan Weakley, Timber Press

Edible Paradise: How to Grow Herbs, Flowers, Vegetables and Fruit in Any Space by Vera Greutink Chelsea Green Publishing

Grow Your Own Botanicals by Cinead McTernan, Octopus

Urban Garden Design by Kate Gould, Octopus

The Bonsai Book: The Definitive Illustrated Guide by Dan Barton, Racehorse Publishing

The Crafty Garden: Inspired Ideas and DIY Crafts from Your Own Backyard by Becca Anderson, Mango

Gardener’s Guide to Compact Plants: Edibles and Ornamentals for Small Space Gardening by Jessica Walliser, Cool Springs Press

Funky Little Flower Farm by Jenks Farmer, self-published

May 2019

Sand and Soil: Creating Beautiful Gardens on Cape Cod and the Islands by C. L. Fornari, David R. Godine Publisher

The Posy Book: Garden-Inspired Bouquets That Tell a Story, Teresa H. Sabankaya, Countryman Press

Beyond Rosemary, Basil and Thyme: Unusual, Interesting and Uncommon Herbs to Enjoy by Theresa Mieseler, Shady Acres Herb Farm

Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies: How to Create a Customized Herb Garden to Support Your Health and Well-Being by Maria Noel Groves, Storey Publishing

Straw Bale Gardens: Complete Updated Edition by Joel Karsten, Cool Springs Press

Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal, Skyhorse Publishing

The Kew Gardener’s Guide to Growing House Plants: The Art and Science to Grow Your Own House Plants by Kay Maguire, White Lion Publishing

Creative Terrariums: 33 Modern Mini-Gardens for Your Home by Enid G. Svymbersky, Fox Chapel Publishing

The Art of the Japanese Garden: History, Culture and Design by David Young, Michiko Young, and illustrator Tan Hong Yew, Tuttle Publishing

In Bloom: Growing, Harvesting, and Arranging Homegrown Flowers All Year Round by Clare Nolan, Companion House Books

In the Garden Compendium by Euan Hillhouse Methven Cox (E.H.M. Cox), Manic D Press Inc.

Growing Your Own Tea Garden: The Guide to Growing and Harvesting Flavorful Teas in your Backyard by Jodi Helmer, Companion House Books

Propagating Plants: How to Create New Plants for Free by Alan Toogood, DK Publishing

April 2019

The Plant Hunter: Truth, Beauty, Chaos, and Plants by Georgina Reid, photographs by Daniel Shipp, Timber Press

The Tree Book: Superior Selections for Landscapes, Streetscapes and Gardens by Michael A. Dirr and Keith S. Warren, Timber Press

A Way to Garden: A Hands-On Primer for Every Season by Margaret Roach, Timber Press

Everyday Sanctuary: A Workbook for Designing a Sacred Garden Space by Jessi Bloom, Timber Press

Lazy-Ass Gardening: Maximize Your Soil, Minimize Your Toil by Robert Kourik, Chelsea Green Publishing

Living Décor: Plants, Potting and DIY Projects by Maria Colletti, Cool Springs Press

The School Garden Curriculum by Kaci Rae Christopher, New Society Publishers

Bug-Free Organic Gardening: Controlling Pest Insects Without Chemicals by Anna Hess, Skyhorse Publishing

Nature Play at Home: Creating Outdoor Spaces that Connect Children with the Natural World by Nancy Striniste, Timber Press

Vegetable Gardening Wisdom: Daily Advice and Inspiration for Getting the Most from Your Garden by Kelly Smith Trimble, Storey Publishing

Tulips: Beautiful Varieties for Home and Garden by Jane Eastoe and Photographs by Rachel Warne, Gibbs Smith

Gardentopia: Design Basics for Creating Beautiful Outdoor Spaces by Jan Johnsen, Countryman Press

From Garden to Glass: 80 Botanical Beverages Made from the Finest Fruits, Cordials and Infusions by David Hurst, Universe

How to Grow Roses: A Comprehensive Illustrated Directory of Types and Techniques by Andrew Mikolajski, Lorenz Books

The Herbal Kitchen: Bringing Lasting Health to You and Your Family with 50 Easy-to-Find Common Herbs and Over 250 Recipes by Kami McBride, Conari Press

March 2019

Growing Perennial Foods: A Field Guide to Raising Resilient Herbs, Fruits and Vegetables by Acadia Tucker, Stone Pier Press

Homegrown and Handpicked: A Year in a Gardening Life by Carol Michel, Gardenangelist Books

Beginner Gardening Step by Step: A Visual Guide to Yard and Garden Basics by DK Publishing

A Beginner’s Guide to Succulent Gardening by Taku Furuya, Tuttle Publishing

100 Japanese Gardens by Stephen Mansfield, Tuttle Publishing

Trees of Power: Ten Essential Arboreal Allies by Akiva Silver, Chelsea Green Publishing

Year-Round Gardening: Growing Vegetables and Herbs, Inside or Outside, in Every Season by Lena Israelsson, Skyhorse Publishing

Companion Planting: Organic Gardening Tips and Tricks for Healthier, Happier Plants by Allison Greer and Tim Greer, Skyhorse Publishing

The New Plant Parent: Develop Your Green Thumb and Care for Your House-plant Family by Darryl Cheng, Abrams Image

Master Recipes from the Herbal Apothecary: 375 Tinctures, Salves, Teas, Capsules, Oils, and Washes for Whole-body Health and Wellness by JJ Pursell and Photographs by Shawn Linehan, Timber Press

Living with Air Plants: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing and Displaying Tillandsia by Yoshiharu kashima (Protoleaf) and Yukihiro Matsuda (Brocante), Tuttle Publishing

Do It Yourself Garden Projects and Crafts: 60 Planters, Bird houses, Lotion Bars, Garlands, and More by Debbie Wolfe, Skyhorse publishing

February 2019

The Inspired Houseplant: Transform Your Home with Indoor Plants from Kokedama to Terrariums and Water Gardens to Edibles, by Jen Stearns, Penguin Random House

Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs by Sally Cunningham and Jim Charlier, St. Lynn’s Press

A Taste for Herbs: Your Guide to Seasonings, Mixes and Blends from the Herb Lover’s Garden by Sue Goetz, St. Lynns’ Press

A Garden Can Be Anywhere: Creating Bountiful and Beautiful Edible Gardens by Lauri Kranz, Abrams Publishing

Gardening with Biochar: Supercharge Your Soil with Bioactivated Charcoal: Grow Healthier Plants, Create Nutrient-Rich Soil, and Increase Your Harvest by Jeff Cox, Storey Publishing

Herbal Handbook for the Homesteaders: Farmed and Foraged Herbal Remedies and Recipes by Abby Artemisia, Voyageur Press

Practical Cactus and Succulent Book: How to Choose, Nurture and Display 200 Cacti and Succulents by Fran Bailey and Zia Allaway, DK publishing

The Kitchen Garden: A Month-by-month Guide to Growing Your Own Fruits and Vegetables by Alan Buckingham, DK publishing

Vegetables, Chickens, and Bees: An Honest Guide to Growing Your Own Food Anywhere by Carson Arthur, Random House

Rustic Garden Projects: Step-by-step Backyard Décor from Trellises to Tree Swings, Stone Steps to Stained Glass by Marianne Svard Haggvik, Skyhorse Publishing

Shrubs: Discover the Perfect Plant for Every Place in Your Garden by Andy McIndoe, Timber Press

Pruning Simplified: A Step-by-step Guide to 50 Popular Trees and Shrubs by Steven Bradley, Timber Press

The Proven Winners Garden Book: Simple Plans, Picture-perfect Plants, and Expert Advice for Creating a Gorgeous Garden by Ruth Rogers Clausen and Thomas Christopher, Timber Press

January 2019

The Herbal Recipe Keeper: My Collection of Healing Plant Remedies and Essential Oil Blends by Francoise Weeks, Timber Press

Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening: Rare Varieties, Unusual Options, Plant Lore and Guidance by Matt Mattus, Cool Springs Press

The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume IV by Greenhorns (a ten-year-old grassroots organization whose mission is to promote, support and recruit the incoming generation of organic farms and rangers), Chelsea Green Publishing

Farming for the Long Haul by Michael Foley, Chelsea Green Publishing

March Deal: Discount on Growing Perennial Foods Book

Every month I list gardening books that have just been or will be published on my website, pegplant.com. In addition, I link to this cumulative list in my monthly newsletter, Pegplant’s Post. This is a great resource for gardeners–you can keep abreast of current gardening trends and techniques, and you can use this list as a resource for gift ideas for fellow gardeners or just for you! This month, Stone Pier Press, publisher of Acadia Tucker’s book Growing Perennial Foods: A Field Guide to Raising Resilient Herbs, Fruits and Vegetables, is offering a 20 percent discount on the book. Acadia is a regenerative farmer who is concerned about global warming and believes that perennial foods can weather the climate extremes better than annuals. This book is for people who want to grow food, i.e., herbs, fruits and vegetables, and are concerned about climate change. To obtain the 20% discount, use the code PEGPLANT20 when ordering from the Stone Pier Press site. This offer is good from March 1 to 31, 2019.

Day Trip: Visit a Public Garden This Summer

Summer is the time for traveling, exploring, and spending time with family. Thinking of where to go? Consider public gardens and arboreta. Many of these are historic places as well, great for teaching your kids. On my website, pegplant.com, I list gardening books written specifically for the Washington DC metro area. Several of these books, copied and pasted below, are resources listing botanical, public, or historic gardens in east coast states. Check out these books from your local library and plan a day trip with the family. Enjoy your summer!

  • Maryland’s Public Gardens and Parks by Barbara Glickman, Schiffer Publishers, 2015
  • Capital Splendor: Parks and Gardens of Washington DC by Valerie Brown, Barbara Glickman Countryman Press, 2012
  • A Guide to Smithsonian Gardens by Carole Otteson, Smithsonian Books, 2011
  • Historic Virginia Gardens: Preservation Work of the Garden Club of Virginia by Margaret Page Bemiss, University of Virginia Press, 2009
  • Virginia’s Historic Homes and Gardens by Pat Blackley and Chuck Blackley, Voyageur Press, 2009
  • Garden Walks in the Southeast: Beautiful Gardens from Washington to the Gulf Coast by Marina Harrison, Lucy Rosenfeld, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2006
  • Garden Walks in the Mid-Atlantic States: Beautiful Gardens from New York to Washington DC by Marina Harrison, Lucy Rosenfeld, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2005
  • The American Horticultural Society Guide to American Public Gardens and Arboreta:  Gardens Across America, Volume 1, East of the Mississippi by Thomas S. Spencer and John J. Russell, Taylor Trade Publishing, 2005
  • A City of Gardens: Glorious Public Gardens In and Around the Nation’s Capital by Barbara Seeber, Capital Books, 2004
  • Barnes & Noble Complete Illustrated Guidebook to Washington, D.C.’s Public Parks and Gardens, published by Silver Lining Books, 2003
  • Complete Illustrated Guide to Washington DC’s Public Parks and Gardens by Richard Berenson, Silver Lining, 2003

Peg’s Picks: February 2018 New Gardening Books

It is amazing to me how many gardening books are published in our country. These are new gardening books that have been or will be published in the month of February. As with my Peg’s Picks of monthly gardening events, this is my Peg’s Picks of books — a collection of what I have heard from colleagues as well as what I have read on publishers’ sites. Click on the publisher’s name for a description. Previous Peg’s Picks are at the “New Books: 2018“tab.

Practical Houseplant Book by Zia Allaway and Fran Bailey, DK Publishing

Grow Something Different to Eat: Weird and Wonderful Heirloom Fruits and Vegetables for Your Garden by Matthew Biggs, DK Publishing

How to Window Box: Small-Space Plants to Grow Indoors or Out by Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit (founders of The Horticult, a blog), Penguin Random House

Our Native Bees: America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them by Paige Embry, Timber Press

Designing with Palms by Jason Dewees and Photographs by Caitlin Atkinson, Timber Press

The Less Is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard by Susan Morrison, Timber Press

The Flower-Powered Garden: Supercharge Your Borders and Containers with Bold Colorful Plant Combinations by Andy Vernon, Timber Press

Gardening Complete: How to Best Grow Vegetables, Flowers, and Outdoor Plants by the authors of Cool Springs Press (eight authors)

Veggie Garden Remix: 224 New Plants to Shake up Your Garden and Add Variety of Flavor and Fun by Niki Jabbour, Storey Publishing

The Budget-Wise Gardener with Hundreds of Money-Saving Buying and Design Tips for Planting the Best for Less, by Kerry Ann Mendez, St. Lynn’s Press

Garden Builder: Complete Plans for Outdoor Projects You Can Build by JoAnne Moser, Cool Springs Press

Discovering New Gardening Products at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show

As mentioned in my January 14th article, last week I attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS), an annual horticulture trade show at the Baltimore Convention Center.  MANTS is one of the largest shows with over 10,000 attendees and almost a thousand companies exhibiting at booths in the Convention Center. Almost all the companies are wholesale, they are not selling directly to customers or to press such as myself. However, I enjoy attending because it provides me a glimpse of new products and plants and trends in the gardening world.

There were a few products that caught my eye and although the companies attended MANTS for wholesale orders, these companies below said they sell directly to gardeners through their websites.

Through a fellow Garden Writers Association member Ruth Rogers Clausen, I met Dorian Winslow, president of Womanswork, a women-owned, family business in New York.  Womanswork specializes in gloves that fit well for women (although they also sell gloves for men), gardening aprons, raffia and cotton hats, gardening tools, and related items such as hand cream and poison ivy soap. This company sells to garden centers and online directly to gardeners. For over 30 years, they have been specializing in gloves designed to fit women’s hands. Ruth attested to that, she has been using the products for so many years, she is even featured in their catalog. Not only was Dorian a delightful person to talk with but I also found out that she was interviewed recently by one of my favorite podcasters, Jennifer Jewell of Cultivating Place.

I also had the pleasure of seeing Mark Highland again, owner of Organic Mechanics Soil Company, a manufacturer and distributor of premier organic and peat-free potting soils and soil amendments in Pennsylvania. Gardeners can buy products from the site or search the retailer locator for stores. Mark gave a presentation at the Garden Bloggers Fling in June and generously gave us samples of Fuhgeddaboudit! Root Zone Feeder Packs. These small packages of fertilizer, mycorrhizae, biochar, azomite, and micronized oyster shell are placed under or next to a plant’s root ball when planting to help the plant get established. At MANTS, he gave a presentation on Biochar Blend, a bag of biochar, compost, worm castings, bone char, azomite, zeolite, alfalfa meal, and kelp meal. Biochar is highly porous carbon that improves nutrition absorption and provides a permanent home for beneficial soil biology. Biochar can help boost yields and increase the effectiveness of plants’ growth — the best part is that it only has be applied once and will last a lifetime. Mark also published Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally (Cool Springs Press, 2017).

One company that was new to me was City Farmer USA, based in Nevada. Bruce Lebish, president, explained that his company sells raised, plastic planters that gardeners could order directly from their website. They have to be assembled (the instructions on their website look simple) and the models they had at MANTS were black with a strong oriental/bamboo texture because of their woven sides. 

Apparently this woven side is a patented ventilation design that promotes healthy root systems and the patented base retain water. The basket (where you put the soil and plants) is either 16 inches high from the ground or 30 inches, eliminating the need to bend down (may also be wheelchair friendly). There are different sizes and if you buy a few configurations and line them up they would create a very beautiful container appearance on a deck or patio.

More new products and plants in future articles!

Peg’s Picks: January 2018 New Gardening Books

Many of you are familiar with my Peg’s Picks of monthly gardening events which I post on my site at the end of each month and on the tab “Classes, Events.” With the new year, I am starting Peg’s Picks of gardening books. This will be posted each month on my site and in the new tab “New Books: 2018.”

I deliberately use “Peg’s Picks” to imply that these are not all gardening books but rather a subset: for adults (i.e., not children’s books), about gardening, and likely about gardening in this area of the world. These books are a collection of what I have heard about from colleagues and read about on publishers’ sites with a link to the publisher’s description of the book. If you have a book that will be published soon, please contact me and I would be happy to list it.

The following books have been or will be published in January 2018. Stay tuned for February’s list which is quite a bit longer!

The Bonsai Beginner’s Bible: The Definitive Guide to Choosing and Growing Bonsai by Peter Chan, publisher is Mitchell Beazley

The New Seed-Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel and Jean Nick, revised, publisher is Rodale Books

Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: the Indispensable Green Source for Every Gardener edited by Fern Marshall Brady, Barbara W. Ellis, and Ellen Phillips with Deborah L. Martin, publisher is Rodale Books

An Abundance of Flowers: More Great Flower Breeders of the Past by Judith M. Taylor, publisher is Swallow Press

The Colorful Dry Garden: Over 100 Flowers and Vibrant Plants for Drought, Desert and Dry Times by Maureen Gilmer, publisher is Sasquatch Books

What’s the Perfect Holiday Gift for Gardeners? Award-Winning Gardening Books!

If you are looking for a holiday gift for the gardener in your life, look to the American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) award winning books for 2017. For more than two decades, the AHS has recognized outstanding gardening books published in North America with its annual book award program. AHS is an educational, non-profit organization dedicated to making America a nation of gardeners, a land of gardens. Books are judged by the AHS Book Award Committee on qualities such as writing style, authority, originality, accuracy, and design quality. This year’s five recipients are:

Contact your local bookstore to purchase.  For more information about the awards program and books that have received awards in past years, visit www.ahsgardening.org/awards.

*Thomas Christopher does not have a website at this time but he is on Facebook.

Book Review: The Chinese Kitchen Garden by Wendy Kiang-Spray

februarygardenkids2017-042The day that Wendy launched her new book at Politics and Prose in DC, I was at home reading about her life. Normally I skip the preface of any book but this time I enjoyed reading Wendy’s journey into gardening, which began when she became a mother, and her parents’ journey from China to Maryland, resulting in a successful business and a large vegetable garden. The Chinese Kitchen Garden is Wendy’s first book, a sublime integration of gardening and Chinese cooking. Divided into the four seasons, her book melds her own gardening advice on growing Asian vegetables with her parent’s ability to incorporate such vegetables into classic Chinese cuisine.

Wendy features 38 vegetables that are either native to China, commonly thought of as Chinese, or play a role in China’s culinary world. Each plant is labeled with its common and botanical names, Chinese transliterations, and pronunciations in Cantonese and Mandarin. Wendy describes the plant’s general use in the kitchen such as side dishes, entrees, soups, and salads and gardening methods for this area. Throughout the book are 20 family recipes incorporating the vegetables grown in her and her parent’s garden. Published by Timber Press, this book has excellent graphic elements such as Chinese characters, plenty of colored photographs, and easy-to-read sidebars plus resources for recommended reading, websites for more information, and companies that sell plants and seeds.

The first chapter, Spring, provides instruction on improving the soil, Chinese intensive beds, raised garden beds, container gardening, composting, and seed sowing. Wendy provides information on growing and cooking bamboo shoots, garland chrysanthemum, garlic chives, a variety of peas, and watercress. Recipes include “Bamboo Shoots and Pork Belly Braised in Sweet Soy Sauce” and “Stir-fried Flowering Chive with Roasted Duck.”

Summer addresses the typical problems of pests, diseases, weeds, and the need to water.  Wendy covers a variety of beans and greens, amaranth, bitter melon, bottle gourd, bunching onions, Chinese cucumbers, Chinese eggplants, Chinese peppers, daylily buds, fuzzy melon, and luffa gourd.  Recipes include “Bottle Gourd and Chicken Stir-fry” and “Long Beans with Garlic and Preserved Olives.”

Fall involves succession planting, seed saving, food preservation, and cleanup chores.  This chapter describes how to grow and cook with a choy, bok choy, choy sum, cilantro, gailan, ginger, kabocha, mustard greens, napa cabbage, radishes, stem lettuce, taro root, tatsoi, water chestnut, and winter melon. Recipes include “Kabocha with Ground Pork in Black Bean Sauce” and “Steamed Sea Bass with Cilantro, Ginger, and Scallions.” Several pages are devoted to her father’s signature dumplings with a recipe for “Crab, Pork and Napa Cabbage Dumplings.”

The story ends with Winter: techniques to extend the season, including cold frames, row covers, hoop houses, and cloches; growing cold-hardy vegetables; planning for the next year; and growing sprouts and microgreens indoors.

Throughout The Chinese Kitchen Garden, Wendy tells stories about her family: her husband and daughters, her father and mother, and her sister and her family. She has a very relaxed, easy-to-read style, as if she were chatting at the kitchen table, surrounded by her family. Those who are new to gardening will find this book to be a great introduction to growing Chinese vegetables in the Washington DC metropolitan area while those who are interested in cooking will be inspired to try the delicious recipes. Wendy provides more information on her website, wendykiangspray.com, her blog, greenishthumb.net, and on her Facebook page, The Chinese Kitchen Garden. This coming Saturday, February 18, Wendy will speak about her book at Rooting DC, an annual event in Washington DC.