Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The best tool for your organic garden is... a good book!

by Marc @ GardenDesk

I enjoy gardening tools. A good co-linear hoe, a sharp digging fork and a sturdy trowel are all great to have while working in the garden. As good as it is to have great gardening tools though, the best thing to invest in to help increase your harvest this year is a good gardening book or books!

I have collected around a hundred gardening books over the years and regularly go to the surrounding libraries to check out the newest ones. I have spent much of this winter re-visiting my old favorites to hone my knowledge and plan for the best season yet! By doing this, I've identified my 25 most favorite gardening books. These are the ones that I return to again and again. They often have dirt or grass stain on them because they were out in the garden with me as a handy reference the first time I tried something new.

Unfortunately times have changed. In the "good 'ol days", wisdom about gardening and other life skills would be passed down from generation to generation by family elders and neighbors. This doesn't happen as much anymore, so when I wanted to start organic vegetable gardening some 20 years ago, all I had to rely on were books written by wise and seasoned gardeners. Now days, we also have the Internet and some great blogs to learn from. I'm glad that bloggers are willing to share their knowledge as Paul discussed last week. I do caution you however to not rely solely on garden blogs for you information. You can't usually take the computer with you out to the garden. There have been times when I read something great on a blog out of my growing season and couldn't find it again later when it was time to use that knowledge. There have been more times when I referred back to something I read in one of my books. It was easy to find by looking in the index or by locating my bookmark that I left there months earlier.

Not only have books helped me to learn the "how-to's" of gardening, they have helped me understand things like why organic gardening techniques are better. Through reading I have been able to study under gardening greats such as J.I. Rodale and Mel Bartholomew and gardening couple legends like Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch, Ed and Carolyn Robinson (The Have More Plan), and Scott and Helen Nearing (The Good Life books).

So what about you? Am I preaching to the choir? Do you learn only by doing, or do you agree that reading good gardening books can help make you a good gardener? This really extends to all the other aspects of simple living and the other topics we discuss here at Simple Green Frugal Co-op.

If you agree that books are important, I'll leave you with one last question to ponder. The question is this; Other than the Bible or religious books, what is the one book that has been the most significant to you? The book that has helped you the most with gardening or cooking or homemaking or simple living or ________?

This is a difficult question for me. Since I just came up with 25 most significant books, I'll have to think some more to decide which one is number one. What about you? If you have such a book, please share it with the rest of us since it can possibly help us too. Please tell us the book and what area of your life it has helped.

Keep Reading and Keep Growing!