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
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
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
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-
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve’s free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org