Monday, 7 March 2011

Some gardening books

As a side interest I have been writing a few posts at squidoo to try out the writing platform there. I have been writing a few posts about gardening books. In particular, I have given vegetable gardening book reviews and permaculture book reviews.

Permaculture is a philosophy that thinks human being should design their societies from scratch so as to be self sustaining. For a gardener, some of the principles resonate, but more importantly many of the suggestions they make are very interesting. Because, part of the philosophy of permaculture is gardening with the least work possible to get the maximum possible results.

A perfect permaculture garden is rare, but every part of it would have some purpose. For example, you would grow the easiest to harvest vegetables, and only chose simple flowers rather than hard to grow ones that take a lot of effort.

In many ways, because permaculture investigates the history of gardening, these books are often full of information that can be very helpful and well thought out.

That said, I think that generally they are far too radical for people to follow so instead of expecting to follow everything they say, just look for the good ideas. Ideas of having greenhouses, with a chicken coup underneath to provide heat during the winter are actually very practical in the right circumstances. Or the idea of using hot beds, an old Victorian method, rather than heated greenhouses are similarly interesting.

I don’t think people would necessarily follow all of the ideas in these books, but do think they offer some intelligent principals.

More mainstream reviews are found in my vegetable garden book reviews. Now, everyone always say that you can save money by growing your own vegetable. I’m going to hang my colours to the mast here. I don’t think that is often the case. Once you buy seeds, books, and the land and put in the hours of effort, it is often more cost efficient these days to actually go to work.

Where gardening really comes into its own is that you produce really healthy food, have fun, and can take pride in the results. We do vegetable garden here. But, we are not self sufficient and hope that we will never get to the stage that we have to be.

I live on a small holding, and can tell you that much of the information in the tv shows about it is not completely accurate. Self sufficiency is hard work. In order to run a smallholding well there are always a lot of tasks you have to do... animals to look after, vegetable crops to tend, hedges to cut, grass to mow and on top of that in England most farm activities run at a loss.

So, I am going to suggest that when you read the vegetable gardening books... they are a nice hobby, but again, you probably won’t feed your family or become self sufficient this way.

What you will gain from them is delicious food, exercise, and a hobby that will probably make you fitter and happier.

And will give you something to be proud of.

One resource though people don’t make much use of is their local allotment. Now, the allotment is full of interesting people who love gardening. So, if you have a problem you can often do better than reading a book. Actually talking to people with more experience of gardening than you is really ideal.
These people have been doing it for a long time.

As an aside, I am starting to get to that point in the garden blog where I am running out of ideas a little, so if you are reading this I’d love your feedback, What do you want me to discuss?

Otherwise, I will end up talking about the weather.

Which, today, has been fine, but a little colder than normal. I woke up this morning with the entire garden covered in a small layer of frost. I hadn’t seen that for a little while. It’s funny, every time you think you are nearer to spring something else happens.

I think tomorrow I am going to write a theory post. I will probably talk about negative spaces. That’s a hard sell to gardeners, but the negative spaces are the parts of the garden that are not filled with plants. Every garden design book talks about the positive spaces in the garden... the plants... but really fine design in visual work always has to include a balance between the positive and the negative. Designing what isn’t there. A unusual concept. So, talk to you tomorrow.

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