My first garden catalog arrived just before Christmas. It’s one of the things I love about gardening, the enthusiasm with which gardeners receive these little messages that anything is possible. Yes, I know it’s all about marketing to the catalog senders, but to a gardener, those catalogs really feed the imagination. What could I grow this year? What will my garden look like? Won’t that food taste great? WTH can I plant without a fence that the rabbits won’t eat?? With that in mind, I’m starting my New Year’s Book Roundup with a few gardening titles that I am looking forward to using in this new year.
When I saw The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener on a library shelf, its cover showing a picture of author Niki Jabbour, taking greens out of a cold frame surrounded by snow, I thought “C’mon, really?” I checked the book out anyway and discovered that she lives in Nova Scotia, which is zone 5 just like I am. Yes, really! I was fascinated by her success at extending the season way with cold frames, hoophouses, and other techniques. This year I hope to build a cold frame and try out a few of the cold-hearty vegetable varieties she recommends.
Covering Ground by Barbara Ellis interests me because I’d like to mow less and plant some hardy ground covers or plantings that attract birds. During our drought last summer, I covered an unused corner of our lawn with tarps to kill the grass. It’s under the snow now, waiting to be dug up and planted in the spring. The neighborhood rabbits treat any plantings without a fence as a gourmet salad bar, so stay tuned.
I bought Kiss My Aster by Amanda Thomsen because the title made me laugh. Think graphic novel meets landscaping book. There’s lots of solid information in this book, and it makes landscaping very approachable, even for those of us very slow to change the landscaping that came with the house (that would be me).
I love to read cookbooks, and I found a few stand-outs this year. The Edible Garden Cookbook came to me as a birthday surprise, and I know I’ll be going to it a lot during the upcoming garden & farmer’s market season. It’s got a chapter for each of 16 vegetables, 6 fruits, herbs, and some gardening info. The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman is not just for moms and has great ideas for delicious, not complicated meals, usually with several options to customize them for your family. The Homemade Pantry by Alanna Chernila is a recent discovery, a beautiful collection of recipes for things most of us buy. It’s another beautifully photographed book and one from which I eventually hope to make every single thing. Two favorites that friends continually sing the praises of (and deservedly so, based on the foods they’ve shared with me from these books): Dinner: A Love Story and The Farm.
In the crafting arena, I spend a lot of time going through editor Kari Cornell’s series of knitting pattern books inspired by the textile traditions around the world. She’s got a good series, starting with Knitting Socks Around the World and followed by books on scarves, hat & mitten sets, and sweaters. I’m looking forward to knitting a number of projects out of these. I really enjoyed reading Dreaming In Color, the autobiography of Kaffe Fassett. He’s an artist and knitting designer who really inspires me and has had a remarkable creative journey.
If you’ve any favorites, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!