Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: Nitty-Gritty Gardening Book by Kari Cornell

The Nitty-Gritty Gardening Book: Fun Projects for All Seasons

This time of year always has me absolutely chomping at the bit to go play in the dirt. The warm spells make you think it might be okay to get started planting, but you know you'll just wake up to a surprise snowstorm if you do! Since I don't have room to start things indoors, I have had to make do with tilling and weeding, and sowing a few cheap seeds.

Since the sub-heading of this book promises "Fun Projects for All Seasons", I was hoping I would find a few things to help tide me over - and I did! First, however, I was pleased with the introduction, titled "Why Garden?"

If you've ever eaten a just-picked cherry tomato, still warm from the sun, you know one of the answers to this question. Fresh fruits and vegetables taste amazing. Snap peas, carrots, and radishes are crunchy and crisp. Tomatoes and strawberries are loaded with sweet flavor. Lettuce is delicate and delicious.

Great imagery - and now I'm starving, even though I just finished eating lunch! Cornell goes on to mention the benefits of knowing how your food was grown, and the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself. She talks about benefits to the ecosystem, and covers some basics such as space limitations, soil quality, and growing zones, to help readers plan. I've never seen a children's book about gadrening (or an adult one for that matter) suggest drawing a sun map, although it makes a lot of sense.

Once planning is out of the way, the book is divided into seasons. Spring has us starting seedlings in newspaper pots, and growing potatoes in sacks - great for homes with not a lot of space, or really poor soil. Summer has bird baths and hanging gardens, Autumn starts bringing things indoors and starting a compost bin, and Winter brings cute terrarium ideas. 

Each season has at least three project ideas, taking up a two-page spread. I found the introduction to be more comprehensive than the seasonal sections, but this is a good book for both getting started and getting motivated. Instructions are clear, and accompanying photographs or drawings are colorful as well as helpful.  Projects do not require a great deal of expertise or special equipment, and often make use of items from the trash bin. Many could easily be done in a classroom, making this a great book for school, library, or home. Gift it with a bag of soil and some packets of seeds!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bag of potatoes to plant!

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