#90sInJuly – July 7/8

20170708_162403A second double post, to make up for missing yesterday. July 7 was “Wannabe” – and while it’s not quite the meaning of the song, I’ve always wanted to be an urban/backyard homesteader. I’ve come to realize I’m not capable of it, at least not here. The heat and the humidity saps what little energy I have, and being hypothyroid means I’m not very capable of dealing with extreme temperatures. I overheat very quickly out in these nasty east coast summers. But I can dream and continue to read about it!

 

20170708_154710July 8 is “Heart-Shaped Box” – and I actually have one! Looking at the design on it reminded me of this series by Claire Delacroix – the delicate filigree borders and the trinkets on each cover. I do on occasion enjoy a cheesy romance. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine!

You can find the rest of the 90sInJuly posts indexed here.

Book Review: Backyard Harvest

Another of the books my mother sent me for Christmas, this is actually a book I’d had from my local library and put on my wish list because it’s amazing. Stats! BackHarv

Backyard Harvest – A Year-Round Guide to Growing Fruits and Vegetables
by Jo Whittingham
Published 2012
256 pages

Backyard Harvest is set up by months, which makes for a unique and absolutely essential (to me, a beginner) book. In every month, it tells you what you should be eating (provided you had planted it previously!), what you should be planting, what you should be pruning or transplanting or otherwise working on, and usually a few pages on a seasonal-appropriate subject. (A section on apples and apple trees in November, for example.) The layout is gorgeous, the instructions are easy to understand, and I feel like after a few years of following this book I’ll be eating from my garden every month of the year with ease.

For January, for example, if I had these things planted, harvested, or stored from last year, I should be eating pickles, stored root veggies, newly lifted Salsify, forced Belgian Endive, and winter radishes, among other tasty-looking things. I should be sowing (indoors, to transplant after the last frost) early-season leeks, summer onions, lettuce, broad beans, cut-and-come-again greens, and early peas and radishes. For tending, I should be amending my soil, keeping an eye on my stored fruits and veggies for signs of rot, pruning some of my fruit trees, and picking up fallen leaves from hardy winter brassicas so they don’t cause rot at the base of the plants. The feature for the month is building a seedbed, both raised and non. In January I should be harvesting celeriac, early broccoli, the aforementioned Belgian Endive, and spring greens. Another feature for the month is sprouting seeds for use in salads. Each of these categories gets its own two-page spread, the monthly features occasionally getting four or more.

It’s a lovely, really useful book, and one I HAD to own after getting it from the library. It will be getting heavy use in the coming months, I’m sure!

Whittingham has written or co-written three other books – Vegetable Gardening and Grow Vegetables before this book, and Simple Steps to Success: Fruit and Vegetables in Pots after. The latter appears to be a combination of the first two in a new format, but I could be wrong. So I’m not sure I’d recommend any of those three – I haven’t read them – but Backyard Harvest is awesome!

Book Review: The Edible Front Yard

EdFrontYThis is a book my mother sent me for Christmas this year, and I’m OBSESSED with it. It’s really made me look at garden design in a new way – not just what I can grow to eat, but what I can grow to look good at the same time. So first, the stats:

The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-less, Grow-more Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden
by Ivette Soler
Published 2011
213 pages

I would definitely give this book the full five stars. It’s filled with gorgeous, full-color, glossy photographs that really show off the concepts illustrated in the book. Soler describes both some common vegetables (corn and beans, for example) as well as some things I didn’t even know were edible, like daylilies and nasturtiums! She includes a lot of unusual edibles, like artichokes and bananas, the latter of which I can’t grow outside here in Maryland. She lives in LA, though, and I completely understand how it must be complicated to write a book applicable to the entire United States!

Her chapters range from “Curb Appeal” – WHY should we care what our yard looks like, and what actually looks good? – to “The New Front Yard Plant Palette” which is all about classic edibles that also look great. Another chapter is about helper plants – plants that aren’t necessarily edible (though some of them are), but that serve other purposes in the garden, such as pest repellant or predatory bug attractants. Both of these chapters list a TON of plants, with short descriptions about why they’re on the list, how to take care of them, and what to use them for. EXTREMELY useful.

Soler has her own blog – The Germinatrix – but unfortunately it doesn’t look like it’s been updated since 2012. Her Twitter seems to have died about the same time, and her Facebook hasn’t seen a post since early 2013. I’m still hoping to find her presence online, as I love her writing style and would love to find more of her work.