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August 2008: Publications

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  • Roots Demystified: Change Your Gardening Habits to Help Roots Thrive by Robert Kourik (Chelsea Green, PO Box 428, White River Junction VT 05001; 2008; $25) is based on Kourik’s own fascination with roots, which led him to research the subject. In the process he found the work of John Weaver, whose illustrations are showcased in this book. Kourik combines this insight into roots with his own extensive gardening and landscaping experience to instruct the reader in how to promote the most productive growth of plants and trees. Appendices include subsurface drip irrigation, legumes for soil improvement and trees that grow well in lawns.
  • Fresh from the Garden Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Kitchen Gardens by Ann Lovejoy (Sasquatch Books, 119 Main Street, Suite 400, Seattle WA 98104; (206) 467-4300;; 2005; $22.95) follows the seasons (in the NW maritime climate) to present recipes and gardening tips appropriate for each. The garden photos are gorgeous and the recipes mouth-watering, based mainly on simple and fresh ingredients straight from the garden. The author’s writing is poetical as she describes what happens in her garden during each season. Her garden calendar makes suggestions on specific types of produce appearing seasonally. This book is a visual and gastronomic feast, one that should entice even the most hesitant reader into the garden to grow.
  • Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners by James B. Nardi (The University of Chicago Press, Chicago IL 60637; 2007; $25) is a fascinating book with a cast of thousands, ranging from microbes to mammals. Nardi sets the stage by stating “A soil is not fertile and complete until creatures occupy it and contribute their organic portion to the mineral portion of the soil.” He describes how soil is created, both its mineral and organic components and goes on to discuss plant roots and their contribution to the process. The second section introduces the players in great detail, and describes their function in the soil. Each is illustrated with charming, life-like drawings. The final section describes some of the forces working to destroy the soil today and how the reader can help counteract them. This is a fine book, interesting as well as educational. The author’s patience, thorough research and fascination with as well as respect for life in the soil are obvious throughout. We recommend it.
  • Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate: At Work in the Wild and Cultivated World  by Wendy Johnson (Bantam Dell, New York NY; 2008; $25) is an exquisite book linking Zen to the life of gardening. This book is a very personal memoir of the gardening experiences of Wendy Johnson during 30 years of cultivation and meditation at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Northern California. A former student of Alan Chadwick and perennial student of the land she radiates knowledge on everything from double-digging, to three sisters planting, to using tolerance and compassion when dealing with garden pests.
  • Letters to the Valley: A Harvest of Memories by David Mas Masumoto (Heyday Books, P.O. Box 9145 Berkeley, CA 94709; paperback 2007; $14.95) is dedicated “to those who still write letters and who love to read them”. This book is an inspiring, deeply personal insight into the life of a third-generation farmer. He writes letters filled with wisdom to his children, questions for his father, and sweet gratitude to his grandmother; each letter is enriched with memories from the past and hopes for future harvests.
  • Buried Treasures:Tasty Tubers of the World, Editor, Beth Hanson (Handbook #188 Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Ave., Brooklyn NY 11225; 2007; $9.95) is a look into the fascinating world of Geophytes, the corms, rhizomes, tubers, and bulbs of the planet. The book also highlights the ancient relationship between humans and cultivated root crops. In the Andes, for example, the tuberous nasturtium has been cultivated for its, peppery, edible tubers, rich in vitamin C, since 5500 B.C. The photographs are vivid and detailed, and there are full-color cookbook-style recipes toward the end of the guide.
  • A Barefoot Doctor's Guide for Women by Georgette Maria Delvaux (North Atlantic Books, P.O. Box 12327, Berkeley CA 94712;2007;$12.95). This short “guide” is more like a series of lectures on some of the most controversial women’s health issues of today. The author’s tone is casual, even comedic, and while loaded with technical and detailed medical terminology,the book  is very easy  to comprehend. The author discusses the subtle symptoms that the human body displays to understand more about the shifts that create imbalances within the body. Dr. Delvaux deeply questions the current mainstream treatment of women's health across a broad range of ailments. This book is a wonderful guide in the sense that it will help readers open up better communication with their own doctors and provides an introductory education on the issues of nutrition, menopause, osteoporosis, dehydration and insomnia, just to name a few. It is truly remarkable just how much practical medical advice and unique perspective the author includes in such a small book.
  • Farming Bamboo by Daphne Lewis and Carol Miles (Daphne B. Lewis and Carol Miles, 2007). This book provides a great deal of information about the benefits of farming bamboo. Much of the data, however, is centered on the Pacific Northwest and may be difficult to apply in other areas of the world. This may be useful to those thinking of starting a commercial bamboo business as it contains detailed marketing plans. It also includes illustrated information on harvest, pests, uses and even how to cook bamboo.
  • The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses, By Deni Brown (DK Publishing, 95 Madison Ave; New York NY 10016; 2001;$40) is an excellent reference on identifying herbs and their uses. The book is organized alphabetically by plant name, including both scientific and common plant names, and has a great variety of facts and information about the historical and commercial uses of herbs. The primary function is as a quick reference. However, the book contains short but informative how-to sections on the cultivation of herbs and designing herb gardens. Overall a very useful and colorful addition to any gardener’s library.
  • Recipes from the Garden by Rosalind Creasy (Tuttle Publishing, 364 Innovation Dr North, Clarendon Vt  05759; $34.95) is a richly colorful cookbook including 200 classic and creative recipes sure to bring inspiration to your summer potluck dishes as well as your garden planning. The author is passionate about edible landscaping and provides so many beautiful examples of flowers as food that you might discover that you do have space for one more rose bush or a trellis of nasturtiums. One look at the lavender-tinted soup, and you are sure to plan for a few rows of deep purple potatoes.  The book includes a wide range of culinary delights from simple salads to Golden Curry with Garam Masala. There is something for every level of cook.
  • Fields of Plenty: A Farmer's Journey in Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow it, by Michael Ableman (Chronicle Books 85 Second St;; San Francisco CA 94105 $35). In order to truly taste a slice of the lives of fellow farmers the author and his 23-year-old son do the “unthinkable,“ they leave their own farm in British Columbia during the harvest and market season. The goal of this three-month journey was to commune with colleagues while their farms were at their peak and document what practical, passionate farmers are producing. Ableman’s beautiful photographs pepper the book with color and bring you straight to the farms, capturing everything from women plowing with horses in California to elaborate rooftop greenhouses in New York City. The stories feature inventive sustainable-minded producers of tremendous bounty, varying from heirloom grains, cave-cured sheep’s milk cheeses,  five-pound potatoes to mountains of compost 15 feet high and 200 feet long! Each chapter concludes with a culinary bonus, wonderful field-to-table recipes that celebrate the regions, crops and individuals visited along the way. This is a hopeful there-and-back-again memoir filled with farmers’ secrets and hope for the American small farm.
  • Small Farms are Real Farms by John Ikerd (Acres USA, PO Box 91299, Austin Texas 78709; $20) is in the same vein as the above publication but less personal and more sociological. This book is comprised of a collection of articles written and published primarily in Small Farm Today magazine and highlights the economic, environmental, ethical, and social issues of modern farming. The author offers hopeful solutions concerning what may be done to meet the needs of the present without compromising the future.

  • Food Plants of the World by Ben-Erik van Wyk (Timber Press Inc. 133 S.W. Second Ave; Suite 450 Portland OR 97204; $39.95) is an excellent quick reference guide to the plants we eat including information about their origin, history, physical characteristics, nutritional value, as well as basic cultivation and harvesting.  The book also contains a detailed section breaking down the concepts of nutrients, diet, and health complete with chemical structure diagrams and loads of interesting facts.





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