I need some good book recommendations for both vegetable gardening and
general landscape style gardening. I live in Western MA and would love to
start gardening, but am kind of can't figure out where to even start. My
biggest area of concern right now, is the front of my house, which has NO
landscaping and receives very little sunlight.
If you have a local lending Library then why not brows their gardening
books, borrow ones you like the look of, and when you find a book/s you
don't want to take back then go out and buy that /those book/s
The 'Victory Garden' books should be apropos, although western MA may
be entirely different than the Boston area. I find them quite useful
quite a distance south -- I just make adjustments in the times for
sowing, setting out, etc.
On Fri, 13 Feb 2004 13:20:12 -0500, Floreksa wrote:
Piet Oudolf has a series of books about natural gardens. "Gardening with
Grasses" is quite good. The premise is to use a variety of ornamental
grasses as the backbone of the garden and plug holes with perennials and
Your local county extension office should be able to guide you. An
established botanic garden usually comes with a collection of books and
folks with know-how.
Volunteering at at a garden is a hands-on approach to learning. Master
gardening programs are offered throughout the country through local
extension offices. Garden expos are another source.
Gardens do not grow from books unless the books are being used as compost.
What you need is a car, bicycle or a pair of feet. You need to travel around
your area. Take a local map and draw a circle that is 40 miles in diameter
with your house at the center. Then drive, bike or walk around the streets
that are in that circle. Look for yards that resemble yours in shape, size,
lighting, and irrigation. Look for plants and trees in those yards that you
like. Pay attention to the size of the mature plants. Look at the hardscape
and statuary. Then go home and think about what you'd like your front yard
to look like. Think about the things you say in other landscapes that would
work in yours. Come up with several plans and draw them on paper. Then
either get a professional to plant it or do it yourself after you get some
sage advice from the local garden center when you buy the plants.
Now, vegetable gardens... I grew up in suburban and then rural New Jersey
which has a climate somewhat the same as Western MA. We don't get as much
snow but our winters are about the same. Every house I lived in I built a
vegetable garden that provided WAY more food than our family and friends and
neighbors could eat. So... here are some simple guidelines for the vegetable
1) Full sun - put the garden on the south side of the house and let that
stuff cook in the sun!
2) Good soil - my standard garden was 8' wide by 24' long. Into it I mixed
300 pounds of chicken manure in the late fall of only the first year I was
going to plant.
3) Good water - setup a simple mist system with a timer. 4 heads for my
standard size (above).
4) Raise it up to let it drain - my garden was built out of 8x8 timbers
stacked 5 high to 3-1/2' above the ground.
5) Raise it up to save your back.
6) Plant ONLY the stuff you like to eat. Forget about what your friends and
neighbors like, you are going to eat the bulk of it. So if you don't like
Brussel sprouts then don't plant them.
7) Plant as much as possible from seedlings you buy in a good local nursery.
Forget about waiting for seeds to germinate, you want results!
8) Don't plant cannabis in your garden. You're way too far north.
Being a newbie myself, two books really helped me out when I started
gardening last year.
Better Homes and Gardens New Complete Guide To Gardening
Better Homes and Gardens New Complete Guide To Landscaping
Last year I had a successful vegetable garden and also landscaped 500 sq
ft of property which turned out very nice. Looking forward to getting in
the dirt again this year.
A couple I find indispensable are:
_Manual of Woody Landscape Plants_ by Michael A. Dir - this is probably
the most consulted of my 100 or so books
Anything from the Time-Life gardening series. These books were
originally published in the 70s and are still in print.
_Low Maintenance Perennials_ by Robert S. Hebb. Another from the 70s.
Not in print but not hard to find
I reccomend The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch, 1988 Workman
If you use a website like www.aaabooksearch.com you can find it used
or new from
I am a CT extension master gardener and have given away several copies
including my own a few times, I cannot reccomend this book highly
If you can find it - 'America's Garden Book' by the Bush-Browns. It covers
everything. Has been revised and rewritten since the Bush-Browns are long
gone. they were my teachers in college - great couple.
Learn something new every day
As long as you are learning, you are living
When you stop learning, you start dying
Welcome to the gardening world! It's quite addictive, but very good for
the soul. I'm in W. Mass too (Pelham), so I know what your conditions
are like. My favorite garden reference book is Mike Dirr"s Manual of
Woody Landscape Plants. It is a compendium of most of the shrubs and
trees on the market now, and is great for finding out if a particular
plant you want to grow will fit into your scheme. For vegetable
gardening, Crocket's Vegetable Gardening(the new edition) is my
favorite, as it's aimed at gardeners in Zone 5 (which is us) and
thereabouts. There are umpteen garden design books out there, and I'd
suggest in any case, check out your local library first before you buy
anything. Another good source is used book stores. Are you in deer
country? They can be such a pest in your garden; they ate some of my
rhododendron flower buds last spring, and I've been caging and using
repellents this year to keep them away. My point being, if you have
deer, you'd better plant things they don't like to eat! (I have a list
if you'd like it). I'm a Master Gardener, and our local website is
www.wmassmastergardeners.org if you want some more help. We're putting
on a Gardening Symposium on April 3 At Pathfinder Regional H.S. in
Palmer, which could be very helpful to you. Go to the website and you
can get a copy of the application, which you should send in immediately
if you want to go, as the best sessions fill up quickly. Hope this
helps. E-mail me if you have more questions at email@example.com, not
the UMass address. Wendy
My favorite for a comprehensive gardening was from Rodale Press,
Encyclopedia of Organic Gardenning. Not cheap, but I've moved around
and it addresses various climate zones, soil ammendments, compost, as
well a variety of plants, and propagation. Consult your library
first. But as I said before, it has nearly all the information of my
other 6 books or so that I use as references.
My absolute favorite is the Better Homes and Gardens New Complete Guide to
Gardening. It covers all the areas, albeit generally, but it is an excellent
launch pad for any garden topic you may want to go more in depth into. The
book is laid out so clearly and so well; it is a pleasure to page through on
cold wintry days.
zone 6-7 Long Island
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