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The Garden Primer

by

The Garden Primer Cover

ISBN13: 9780894803161
ISBN10: 0894803166
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

Green Side Up

I firmly believe that in order to learn anything you have to be willing to ask dumb questions. People often say to me, "I don't know anything about gardening," and some of them just let it go at that. Intimidated by the sheer volume of gardening lore that exists, much of it very scientific and arcane, they leave gardening to those who presumably have lots of time to read and better yet, have a "green thumb." But others, unable to resist a pastime they suspect may be a lot of fun, wade right in. I love people who ask things like "Why should I prune my plants?" or "What is mulch?"

The aim of this book is to answer as many fundamental questions about gardening as possible. I may not be able to anticipate everything you want to know, but I will explain how pruning can make your plants bushier, more compact, or more fruitful. I will tell you that mulch is a layer of material, such as shredded bark, that you lay down on the ground chiefly to keep weeds from growing and to keep the soil moist. And I will try to come to your aid when you're standing there alnoe in the garden, holding a plant that looks like an amorphous tangle, and you have no idea what to do with it. If I could go out there with you, I would tell you what my nurseryman friends Mary Ann and Frederick McGourty used to tell their fledgling workers: "Plant it with the green side up." Everyone has to start somewhere.

I'm the first to admit that I have my own idiosyncratic approach when it comes to gardening. Someone once called me an "old-fashioned dirt gardener," and I guess the description fits. I use almost no commercial fertilizers and no pesticides at all, except the occasional soap spray. I prefer hand tools to power ones. I take my cues from the way nature gardens, and also from the gardens of the past. I read as much as time allows about scientific advances in horticulture, and I'm usually willing to try something new, but most of what I do has come from just plain experience. There's no substitue for spending time in your garden and using all your senses to judge the results. Are your plants' leaves a healthy green? Does your soil feel porous and fluffy when you stick your fingers into it? Does your sick plant have bugs on it, or is there evidence of disease? Far more gardens fail because the gardener is absent or not paying attention than because he or she lacks erudition. Yes, you need to know your ABCs, but the more you garden, the more you'll learn what works and what doesn't.

One of the hazards of writing a gardening book is that the author is addressing gardeners in many different localities with many different climates, soil types, and selections of plants to choose from. The more exact the information I give you, the less it may apply to the specific conditions of your very own yard. I'd have to tell you what to add to your soil, for example, without knowing what is already in it. I've tried, therefore, to steer away from formulas, though there are times when saying "Add some fertilizer" is not enough. ("Should I add a spoonful or a bucketful?" I hear you asking) So use my recommendations as a starting point, and try to learn as much as you can about your own garden's needs. Local resources such as nurseries, universities, and the Cooperative Extension Service can be very helpful.

You'll find most of the general information about gardening in the first four chapters of this book; the rest deals with specific kinds of plants. Use the book by going back to the early chapters if you need to have one of those basic quesions answered. The index will help you if a cross-reference does not steer you to the answer at the point where you need it.

Gardening, for all its down-to-earthness, has always had some mystery about it, a mystery that each culture had its own ways of expressing. In olden days you might have had a village maiden dance around the fire to woo the corn god, or made a burnt offering of the harvest to thank the deity that made it possible. Now we do soil tests, make tissue cultures, and even try to become gods ourselves in our quest to create new genetic plant material. But I don't think we'll ever shed so much light on the subject that we dampen the awe a gardener feels when the first vegetable seedlings poke up in spring. We may never explain why we're drawn to flowers just as butterflies and bees are, even though normally we have no role in their pollination. Perhaps their form and fragrance are luring us to some fateful role in their survival. We'll never know all there is to know about gardening, and I'm glad there will always be some magic about it.

So just go out there and start doing it. It's often said that a green thumb is a dirty thumb. Choose good spots for your gardens, prepare the soil well, keep a close eye on things. And remember: the green side is always up.

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Carrieadinsmom, July 3, 2012 (view all comments by Carrieadinsmom)
This book is my favorite gardening resource! I love that it is compact and yet seems to have answers to every question I have a beginning/intermediate gardener. When I got a dog and needed to build a simple fence to keep it out of my garden, this was my resource. When I want to know when and how to prune, plant, start seeds, ot build a cold frame, this is my resource. When I forgot it outside and found it soaked all the way through after a rainstorm, I decided that I had to replace this wonderful gem as it had become my best friend in the garden
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780894803161
Author:
Maher, Ray
Author:
Bolt, Carol
Illustrator:
Maher, Ray
Author:
Bolt, Carol
Publisher:
Workman Publishing Company
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Techniques
Subject:
Gardening
Subject:
GARDENING / Reference
Copyright:
Edition Description:
2nd
Series Volume:
20
Publication Date:
19880110
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
688
Dimensions:
9 x 6.02 x 1.43 in 1.94 lb

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Related Subjects

Home and Garden » Gardening » General
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General

The Garden Primer Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 688 pages Workman Publishing - English 9780894803161 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Remarkably complete, this is the one: the indispensable one-volume reference guide to gardening simply, beautifully and well. It is jam-packed with useful information, old-fashioned common sense, and a lifetime's worth of experience, and is thoroughly revised and expanded to be 100 percent organic in its recommendations. Updated with the latest on plants, soils, techniques, and tools, it includes: The basics of landscaping, emphasizing sustainable methods. Understanding what plants need and avoiding complex rules and formulas. How to choose and combine flowers for season-long color, orchestrating with perennials and accenting with annuals. Extending the season - that's right, harvest carrots in January. The secret to raising roses without fuss, less demanding lawns, vines with discipline, and trees that will enhance your property. There is new information on native species, and all the gardening resources you need—explained in a voice that "has the snap of a good snowpea and the spice of an old rose"
"Synopsis" by , A 688-page volume jam-packed with practical information, advice, tips, and quirky wisdom, both basic enough for the novice and complete enough to help those with more experience improve their gardening habits, The Garden Primerleads all readers down the path to a simpler and more successful garden.

Combining easy "how-to" instruction with quirky wisdom and tried-and-true advice, the author reassuringly guides the reader through the flower garden, the decorative garden, the vegetable patch, and more. Each fully illustrated chapter is a book in itself, from planning your property and stocking the tool shed to growing perennials, annuals, roses, bulbs, vegetables, herbs, fruits, lawns and groundcover, trees, shrubs, vines, and more. Instructions are included for growing and tending approximately 300 plants. Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Quality Paperback Book Club, and the Better Homes and Gardens Family Book Service. 364,000 copies in print. A Regina Ryan Book.

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