The Curious Gardener's Almanac
by Niall Edworthy
For the bookish gardener with ADD, author Niall Edworthy presents The Curious Gardener's Almanac, which is in itself a curious book. It's a nicely illustrated compendium of garden tips, much of which is useful, some of which is already commonly known, and bits of which are downright odd.
First, the useful stuff: The book is organized with chapters on each season as well as on vegetables, garden wildlife, herbs, flowers, fruit, trees and shrubs, and children (as in gardening with children, not growing children). The tips, which are a combination of conventional wisdom, folk practices, and an occasional recipe, are brief, entertaining, and easy enough to put into action.
There is, however, not much new here. The most useful information seemed to be the kind of thing (like companion planting and container growing) that's already been covered in many other places. The section on garden wildlife was interesting with suggestions for pest repellents (ten ways to prevent or treat aphid damage) as well as ideas for attracting wildlife into your garden (nest boxes: ten do's and don'ts). Edworthy loves lists and peppers the book with such items as six ways to conserve water in your garden, twenty cottage garden flowers, and four spinach alternatives in your garden.
Then there are the odd bits, including the most impractical technique for seed scarification that I've ever heard of--carrying the seeds in your pocket for a few weeks with your change. But beyond that, you'll find out, for example, that Samuel Pepys enjoyed nettle porridge for breakfast, and Babe Ruth used to wear a cabbage leaf under his cap to keep his head cool while he played ball. Well . . . OK.
Edworthy subtitled his book "Centuries of Practical Garden Wisdom" and it is mostly practical and mostly wise. It won't replace any other gardening guides already on your bookshelves, but it can be an amusing and informative look at the world of gardening.
Now that you've read the review, how would you like to have the book? Just leave a comment to this post (sorry, anonymous comments don't count) and on March 4, I'll pull one commenter's name from a random drawing. Check back here on that date for the winner's name.
In what can only be described as a shockingly unusual energy burst, I've started a new blog: So Many Pages. This blog will cover all things related to books--reading them, writing them, collecting them, dusting them (should I ever get around to doing that), you name it. I expect that there will occasionally be some crossover between this blog and the new one as I enjoy reading and writing about gardens as much as I enjoy gardening (sometimes more). So if the weather is still preventing you from getting out into the garden, or if you need to take a break from pulling the first flush of spring weeds, come check out So Many Pages. It may not be as productive as gardening, but it's easier on your back.
Note: This post is being post-dated to 3/4/08 in order to keep it at the top of the blog। It was originally posted on 2/26/08.