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Organic Gardening Books, A Review

November 2, 2011

Farm City by Novella Carpenter

So how do organic gardeners get through the cold harsh New England winter?  Read seed catalogs, how-to books and plan out the next year’s garden.  Right now I am in themiddle of a great book – I haven’t been this excited about a book or author in the longest time. I can’t even wait until I finish the book before telling everyone about it.  This book takes organic gardening to a whole new level.  I am almost done (hopefully this weekend) with Novella Carpenter’s Farm City.  And I am just giddy to learn that she has a blog – talk about the never ending story line.  This book is about Novella’s day to day journey farming basically in the ghetto.  She started with egg-producing chickens – which she calls the gateway animal to urban farming.  Sure enough, she moved on to raising turkeys, chickens and ducks for meat.  And how about raising rabbits for meat?  I am at the point in the book where she is challenging herself to only eat what she has grown and raised for one month.  Did I mention she is doing this farming in the middle of an abandoned lot in Oakland, CA!  She’s very knowledgeable about gardening and urban farming and writes with lots of spunk and humor.  If you have ever considered raising animals for food, check out this book.


The Veggie Gardener's Answer Book

But if you prefer to stick with just keeping vegetables alive, I can suggest a few good reads to get you through the winter.  I’ll feature a couple on this blog over the winter.  We’ll start with one of my favorities, I love The Veggie Gardener’s Answer Book by Barbara W. Ellis.  This book is great for beginners but also for folks that have been gardening for a while (always need a refresher)!  The book has a “100% Organic” stamp on it so it offers the organic gardening basics.  The best part is that the chapters are divided up by vegetables so you can easily backtrack to what you need fast.  One chart that I haven’t seen around is how many plants you need to grow for each person (don’t know if you need to adjust it for picky little humans!)  The concepts of crop rotation, interplanting and succession planting were introduced to me in this book.  What was the best piece of advice – how to thin out carrots.  Thin carrot plants to 1”/2.5 cm spacing when they are 2”/5cm tall, then thin again 2 weeks later so plants are 2”-4”/7.6-10.2 cm apart. For best results, thin by cutting off excess plants at the soil line using scissors, because pulling out seedlings may damage the remaining plants.  The illustrations are simple but good – for instance, a great one showing the different sizes and shapes of root vegetables.

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