12 May, 2017

A More or Less Comprehensive Bibliography

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, Deppe, Carol, ©2000, Chelsea Green Publishing, A plant breeder with a science degree and avid gardener all rolled into one, Deppe knows her stuff.. This is a lighter read than that makes it sound, but it is firmly into the science of plant breeding and she doesn’t dumb it down. A good and thorough book even if not light reading.
Creative Propagation; A Grower’s Guide, Thompson, Peter, ©1989, Timber Press, Not nearly as exhaustive as other books presented here, but if you are short on change and can only get one book this one has a lot to recommend it. Thompson covers all of it but perhaps not to the depth of other books, so it’s small and makes good reading for the attentionally challenged.
Designing and Maintaining your Edible Landscape Naturally, Kourick, Robert © 1986, Metamorphic Press, Santa Rosa, CA Probably the bible for this kind of garden. I own a first printing and a quick check shows that Amazon has it new for $33.46 (Permanent Publications; March 30, 2005), so it’s still a winner, after all these years.
Designing The New Kitchen Garden, An American Potager Handbook, Bartley, Jennifer © 2006, Timber Press, Portland, OR This is the book used to compile a good deal of my potager design lecture. It has to be adapted for our climate – all of her dates are good if you’re in OH, but I don’t think we’re in OH – at least not the last time I checked we hadn’t even made it to not being in Kansas. This is a good book, well written and filled with inspiration.
Dirt, The Erosion of Civilizations, Montgomery, David ©2007, University of California Press Although this has been out for a few years, I never looked at it, in part because because I had confused it with another book called "Dirt, The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth" (the one they made a movie about) that I didn't much care for. This is a good book - chapter one is one of the few introductions to soil science that doesn't feel like a root canal. Nice!

From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles Hardcover, Surls/Gerber ©2016 Angel City Press For LA Gardeners who love history, this book is full of delicious photos tracing the agricultural history of Los Angeles. It is fascinating to see this county as it was before we built it into this wild and woolly metropolis. But guess what? All that wonderful soil and that mild climate are still here!

Gardening for Geeks: DIY Tests, Gadgets, and Techniques That Utilize Microbiology, Mathematics, and Ecology to Exponentially Maximize the Yield of Your Garden Christy Wilhelmi © 2013, Adams Media Christy lives up the hill from the Learning Garden and is a frequent guest here. If you have to buy another book after mine, this should be it. She is smart and has written a very good book digging into the science as well as the garden.

    Gardening With a Wild Heart, Restoring California’s Native Landscapes At Home, Lowry, Judith Larner, ©1999 UC Press I was buying seeds from Larner Seeds long before it was cool – in fact, I was one of those pioneers that made it cool, so I’ve corresponded with Judith Larner Lowry even before Lowry entered the picture! Part essay on why and part directions on how, this is a book about California Native plants and their place in our gardens.
Heirloom Vegetable Gardening, Weaver, William Woys, ©1997, New York, NY Very few pictures, but the descriptions are sufficient to make you drool all over the book! Not specific to our area, but a lot of fun to read and daydream about all we COULD grow if we had forty acres or more.
How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You ... (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains,) 8th Edition, Jeavons, John ©2012, Ten Speed Press, San Francisco, CA If there is only one book (other than mine!) you purchase for growing vegetables, this is it! John Jeavons has done more for the growing of vegetables in a small space than any one other single person on this planet. This book is good for the charts alone. With it you have figures that help you determine how many feet of this plant you will need for two people or how many plants of fava beans will you actually have to plant to keep yourself rolling in favas for the winter. (Note: skip the double digging – save your back and the soil!)
Kitchen Literacy, Vileisis, Ann, ©2008 Island Press, Along the lines of the Pollan books, Vileisis brings us back to the knowledge every cook had in days before we let the ‘experts’ and the government tell us what to eat and why. Turns out it was better for us and for the earth. This book is the history of eating dinner in America. It also reflects on woman's role in society and the evolution of that role by virtue of how our lives have changed as regards to eating and effort of putting food on the table.
Out of the Earth: Civilization and the Life of the Soil, Hillel, Daniel, © 1992, University of California Press, There has been a recent spate of books on soil in the past ten years. Preceding this glut by almost ten years, Hillel wrote the best of the lot - all the others are second rate. Not to say they don't have a story to tell, but Hillel's book is not only science, but reads at times like poetry and his love of the subject is steeped in a deep knowledge that encourages affection and respect. There is no other book on soil that teaches so much about soil with a deep spirituality and yet is science-based and science driven. I truly love this book and it has been an inspiration for many years.
Save Three Lives: A Plan For Famine Prevention, Rodale, Robert © 1991 Random House Not a gardening book at all, but certainly a look at how we grow our food, in the face of all the chemical and genetic manipulation promises, can be successful by working with nature instead of trying to be smarter than nature and showing up on the short end of the stick.
Sunset Western Garden Guide 8th Edition, Brenzel, Kathleen Norris, Editor, ©2007, Sunset Publishing This is the number one go-to book for horticulture in Southern California; no other book is as authoritative as this one for our area. We cannot take advice from most gardening books and apply it to what we do in Los Angeles because our climate and soils are nothing like the rest of the world – especially the east coast and England where most books about gardening originate. However, with this book, you can use these other books, (like the ones above) you can then filter their information through ‘Sunset.’
Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition Lowenfels, Jeff et al, 2006 Timber Press; Look up all the titles in the Timber Press catalog – one of the more important horticultural publishing houses in business today! I wish I had this book when I started gardening – this book presents the latest research on the ecology of the soil. A must read!
The Garden of Invention, Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants, Smith, Jane R. © 2009 The Penquin Press, Luther Burbank is one of my heroes – all the more because he was considered a bit messy in his record keeping. We owe a huge debt to Burbank from his iconic Burbank Potato to all the Santa Rosa plums and million other plants in between. What a genious!
The Grafter’s Handbook, 6th Edition, Bradley, Stephen, Garner, R. J. © 2013, Chelsea Green Publishing Distributed in the US by Sterling Publishing First published in 1947, this book has stood the test of time. While there are some little British oddities with the English language that can confuse a little, the illustrations and the enthusiasm of the author are wonderfully clear and inspirational. This book is golden for grafting!
The Home Orchard, University of California Press, ©2007, Though not really a propagation book, it has a marvelous discussion of grafting and is a one of the many really remarkable horticulture books coming out of UC’s ANR. If you are into fruit trees, this book belongs on your shelf in a handy spot.
The Kitchen Garden, Thompson, Sylvia © 1995 Bantam Books and her Kitchen Garden Cookbook are both delightful and informative. Out of print, they are available none-the-less from used book dealers and are worth tracking down.
The Lost Language of Plants, Buhner, Stephen Harrod, ©2002 Chelsea Green Publishing Getting well should not get the earth sick. This is the ecological ‘why’ of alternative medicine and living in harmony with nature, but be warned, you will never look at a fashionable layer of mascara the same way again either!  
The New Seed Starter’s Handbook, Bubel, Nancy, ©1988, Rodale Press If you want to grow from seed, this is THE authoritative text on the subject. None better, even if it’s getting a little old. I found mine for $3 or so on a throwaway shelf at Borders. It is the best three bucks I’ve ever spent.
The Resilient Gardener, Deppe, Carol, © 2010, Chelsea Green Publishing This is the book by Deppe that caused me to declare, “If I ever meet Carol Deppe, I will buy her a drink of whatever she's drinkin!” A promise I made good in in 2016 at Seed Savers Exchange when I got to fetch her a glass of water. This is the one book I learned something about gardening I did not know; a distinction that I afford no other on this or any other list.
The Rodale Book of Composting: Easy Methods for Every Gardener, Gershuny/Martin, © 1992 Rodale Books There is no other book that approaches this book in simplifying and organizing the process of composting for any skill level. From beginner on up, you will find this answers your questions and informs in easy to understand text with line drawings.
The Story of Corn, Fussell, Betty, © 1992 North Point Press Not a garden book at all but just try it out and it will hook you with the fascination of corn. This American crop has saved almost every part of the world from starvation at one time or another. That this plant is worshiped by so many American cultures is no wonder when you are introduced to it properly.
The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, Berry Wendell, ©1997, Sierra Club Books, Anything by Wendell Berry is worth reading. Everything from Wendell Berry can be life-changing. Wendell Berry, quirky and profound, looks at the world with a lens many of us only aspire to. His writing is eloquent, his thinking eclectic. Of the authors that have been instrumental in bringing me to where I am today, Berry is the one whose ability to see a much larger picture is the most constant and his range of vision deeper than anyone I can name at this moment. There are other Berry books that deserve as much attention as this one, but start here.
Tree Crops, A Permanent Agriculture, J. Russel Smith © 1987, Island Press (Note: this book is available as a print on demand from other sources, but evidently the quality is not so great – this is a book that is not, of itself, light reading, please get an edition that is readable.) I remember reading this in the mid 1990's and being unable to sleep at night because of the stimulation of my thinking apparatus. I found it exciting and it immediately changed my understanding of our world!

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