Green Diva’s Guide to Delicious Living: ‘The Curious Gardener’s Almanac’ – a book review

The curious gardner's almanacWe come from the earth, we return to the earth, and in between we garden.

Since we moved into our current home, we haven’t developed a serious vegetable garden. We’ve missed it, and every winter for the last 4 years, we have dreamed, planned, fantasized and even drawn pictures complete with fences (which are critical since we have a seriously hungry deer and critter population), vines, flowers and rows and rows of burgeoning edible vegetation.

The subsequent Springs have found these dreams beyond our capacity what with start up multi-media companies and other silliness occurring. However, we have managed to keep our perennial beds going and since I seem to have a flower addiction, these seem to expand a little every year.

For the last 3 years, we’ve been doing potted veggies and herbs on the deck, where our big scary guard dog (not), woody the wonder boy, our goofy golden retriever, keeps the critters from taking the entire harvest. We don’t mind sharing with the wildlife, but they tend to get greedy around here.

I’m a haphazard gardener that rarely follows any rules and learns by trial and error primarily. I do converse with the plants and from time to time catch myself singing to them (or to myself perhaps). I always speak to them as I’m planting or grooming them in any way and when I accidentally break or squash something, I’m horrified and make every attempt to apologize and make amends. My family thinks I’m nuts, but they’re used to me and humor me. Random visitors that catch me in the garden are generally puzzled and wonder whether I am speaking to them or the plants or to myself and when I finally realize they are there, I notice they have either an amused or extremely concerned look on their faces.

This long-winded intro is all to pre-explain why I cherish one of my holiday gifts from last winter – The Curious Gardner’s Alamanac: Centuries of Practical Garden Wisdom. I have a few dog-eared and dirty, well-loved and used books about gardening, and this one is on its way to being loved to tattered pieces. It is a little like my favorite gardens (might describe my personality too) – not too organized, clearly growing creatively with colorful tidbits peppering the great fertile foundation. How about that for a description!

The quote at the top of this post is from the book. There are some great ideas and wonderful pieces of wisdom and tried and true experiential tips. On page 32, there is a great list or ‘Six ways to conserve water in your garden’. There are also wonderful facts and word origin histories, such as the bit on page 60 about the ‘The Latin word for the chickpea is cicer. The orator and statesman Cicero took his name from it because one of his ancestors was thought to have had a facial wart that bore a close resemblance to a chickpea. Try to forget that fact the next time you dig into a chickpea salad.’ 

There is also a chapter devoted to herbs, which of course is filled with tips and lore about healing properties as well as poetic pieces about the uses, etc.

A rich book. Mental fertilizer for anyone even remotely interested in gardens – you don’t even have to be a gardener to enjoy it.

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