Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Illustrated Guide to Gardening

One of the most popular guides to gardening has gone green! The newly revised edition of Reader's Digest's Guide to Gardening is now organic. This full color, 576 page edition is a great reference for new, and not so new gardeners. I had the opportunity to take a look at this book and share my thoughts about it with you. 

The book covers more than 700 plants, and includes more than 2500 color photographs and illustrations. It is a pleasure to look at, but beyond that it is packed full of information. 

There are chapters dedicated to planning your garden, caring for a garden, growing fruits and vegetables, and much more.  Sections are dedicated to individual varieties with thorough information on the plant's needs, care,  and propagating techniques. I particularly like the chapter on herbs. It includes a wide variety of herbs with information on growing each variety, using them, and preserving them. 

The chapter entitled "Taking Care of Your Garden" was also of particular interest. Information about composting and improving soil is included. Pictures of common garden pests and helpful insects can be found in this chapter, along with organic pest and disease controls. There are even recipes for making your own organic pest controls. 

Though this book is huge there is one thing that I found lacking; companion planting. There is a small mention of companion planting in the herb chapter, and companion usage of herbs can be found there. This topic can be very useful in organic gardening, yet I found no mention of it in the chapter on raising vegetables. 

There is also a small issue with some of the layout. The text itself is well written and clear, but layout is a bit awkward in places making it a little hard to follow.  

The book contains a huge amount of information on ornamental gardening. Personally, I do almost no flowers or landscaping. As an almost strictly fruit and vegetable gardener, much of this book will not get used. If I were purchasing this book that would be a consideration. 

Overall, this is an excellent resource book for the home gardener. I appreciate the clear information and the beautiful illustrations included in such a complete guide to organic gardening. It will find a place on my shelf. 

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