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Courier Article by Andrea Wannemuehler
Sunday, April 29, 2012

Great Gardening Books Put the Bloom in Spring Reading

With the arrival of spring, I find myself losing my voracious appetite for reading. The appeal of curling up in a blanket with a good book and a cup of coffee fades into a desire to spend time outside as the days grow longer and the earth blooms.

However, my interest in reading is not lost completely. As I start plans for my first garden and mull over the finer points of soil acidity and plant propagation, I've turned to a plethora of reference books to show me the way. Homeowners and apartment dwellers alike will find the following books provide a wealth of information for various facets of horticulture, from cultivating gardens to growing herbs in a window.

In "Small Budget Gardener," Maureen Gilmer makes it clear that being frugal does not mean living without; instead, it is a means of approaching gardening with a creative and resourceful mind. Instead of playing the consumer and looking to stores and catalogs for resources, use everyday materials to create and enhance your garden, Gilmer suggests. For example, incorporate leftover coffee grounds into the soil to add nitrogen for plant growth. If you are new to raised beds, composting, irrigation or nearly any aspect of gardening, this book will be especially helpful, because Gilmer mentions which materials you need, how to use them and, when it is necessary, where to buy them on a shoestring budget.

Evelyn J. Hadden's book, "Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives," delivers exactly what it promises. Hadden suggests ways to rethink the tightly landscaped and manicured lawn in favor of low-maintenance, organic designs. In addition to supplying ample inspiration, Hadden provides the how-to for adapting the no-mow principles to your yard space. The book is replete with lists of plants and designs for spaces such as meadow and prairie gardens, patios and play areas.

For those of you without a yard to call your own, you might enjoy Amy Pennington's "Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in your Urban Home." Pennington begins by listing containers in which to grow edible plants, then goes on to suggest what to grow, from fruit and vegetables to herbs and edible flowers. Pennington shares entertaining anecdotes about her failures and successes with growing her own food, and provides useful information without being cumbersome. Apartment Gardening proves that with a few basic supplies and enough work, nearly any place is a good place to grow your own food.

Whether you are starting a few container plants on a balcony or creating a garden or low-maintenance landscape in your yard, there is much information to be gleaned from these books and many others at your local library.