Books and products that add to garden fun

I’ve always thought that cooking enthusiasts and garden lovers have a lot in common.
For example, cooks tend to have a shelf full of cookbooks and always seem to have room for “just one more.” Additionally, they love to find cool tools and gadgets that will make their lives easier and more productive.
In the same way, gardeners tend to be voracious readers of books on every aspect of plants, garden design and landscaping. And no shed feels complete without an array of garden tools and related outdoor products!
Today, I’ll point you at a few items that you (or your garden-obsessed significant other) might find fun, useful or maybe even both.
Let’s start with books…
“Don’t Throw It, Grow it” by Deborah Peterson When is a leftover piece of gingerroot not merely destined for the compost heap, or a wrinkled potato well past its prime more than just an affront to the eye and nose? When Deborah Peterson gets her hands on it and transforms it into a windowsill plant.
Visitors to our Web site www.landsteward.org know that Cheryl and I are strong advocates of recycling. If kitchen scraps can find a new life as attractive houseplants or even homegrown food, so much the better.
Peterson’s book includes growing instructions for 68 plants in four broad categories – kitchen vegetables, fruits and nuts, herbs and spices, and more exotic plants. With Peterson’s help, a sweet potato turns into a blooming vine; chickpeas transform into cheery hanging baskets; a humble beet becomes a dramatic centerpiece; and gingerroot grows into a three-foot bamboo-like stalk.
“Designer Plant Combinations” by Scott Calhoun If you’ve watched the HGTV show about the 25 biggest landscaping mistakes, you’ll remember that one of the mistakes was called “scattered color.” Professional landscape designers think in terms of a palette of colors that enhance each other, whereas amateurs often scatter colors like randomly- dropped crayons.
In this new book (available August 2008) Calhoun demonstrates 105 plans that use six plants or fewer. Rather than complete garden designs, these combinations are small, understandable pieces intended to demystify the design process for home gardeners, particularly those dealing with small spaces.
Filled with photos and illustrations, this book should inspire the exterior decorator in every homeowner.
Moving out of the bookshop and into the back yard…
Bat House Kit The most natural way to control mosquitoes is to allow bats to feed on them. A single bat can eat hundreds or even thousands of mosquitoes in a single night, and a bat house kit is a fun project to share with the kids or grandkids.
Mosquito Repellents For the skeeters that escape from the bats, you need a way to keep them away from you when you are outdoors. Apart from that annoying itch, insect bites can cause West Nile virus, Lyme disease and malaria. Two new products claim to repel mosquitoes and other flying insects without the use of DEET.
Don’t Bite Me! patches are discreet, all-natural transdermal skin patches that deliver a blend of protective Vitamin B1 and aloe throughout the body. The manufacturer says that the waterproof patches can protect against bites from mosquitoes, gnats, ticks, chiggers and sand fleas for up to 36 hours. Unlike a spray, the patch will protect often-missed body areas such as ears, nose and scalp. The patches are available in 5-pack boxes for $4.99 and 10-packs for $7.99.
BugBand is another DEET-free repellent designed to protect you from biting and blood-sucking insects. It’s a wristband impregnated with Gerantol, a natural plant-based that keeps flying insects at a safe distance. BugBand is reusable (for up to 120 hours) and each band comes with its own storage pod in which to keep it between uses. Individual BugBands cost $4.95 and a four-pack is $14.95.
Liquid Net for Horses is a DEET-free pump spray specifically designed for horses. Spray it on your horse before you hit the trail and the flies, gnats and mosquitoes will stay away from your horse… and you.
So put on some bug repellent, build a bat house and relax in the garden with a couple of inspirational books.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve’s free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org
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