On December 5th I finished my last task in the garden. I harvested the rest of the leeks and kale that were protected by sheets and blankets thrown on quickly before one of the cold nights of the past several weeks. I used to think I would love to live in a place like California where the gardening season never ends. But over the last few years I’ve realized that one of the things I like about gardening is that it’s cyclical. In other words…it ends!
Every year when I put the garden to bed I feel a sense of closure and completion. I get to rest awhile and gather up my energy for the next season. I use some of the winter months to completely unplug through travel and vacation. I find that for me a clean break of 4-6 weeks helps me recalibrate and rebalance my life. The rest of the winter I use for dreaming and inspiration.
In the quiet time of winter I can spend more time in my head – reading, writing, dreaming and scheming about gardening. One of my favorite ways to engage in these pleasures is through reading gardening books. There are so many out there and my list of books to read is many titles long. As I work my way through this long reading list in the coming months I may add and subtract to my list of favorites gardening books, but for now here’s where it stands.
The Edible Estates initiative takes front yards and public places and transforms them into abundant vegetable gardens. The two books in this series document the various projects and the homeowners’ experiences in their own words. The creative designs in these books really get the imagination flowing.
Food Grown Right, In Your Backyard was written by the two guys who run the Seattle Urban Farm Company, a business similar to mine. I agree with most of the advice and information that they give throughout the book, and they present several topics in some fresh, new ways.
Permaculture has been a big buzz word in the gardening world over the past 10 years, but a lot of people still don’t understand what it is. The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture breaks down this big topic into manageable bites and explains how you can apply it to your own garden.
The Year Round Vegetable Gardener has inspired me to experiment with pushing the gardening season into as many months of the year as I can. This past year I harvested spinach, turnips, bok choy and arugula for Christmas dinner.
If you have a perennial flower garden that needs some more excitement Nancy Ondra’s blog and books are what you want to be reading this winter. She has an extremely talented eye for design and pulls off some amazing plant combinations. Check out her blog for photos of her Pennsylvania garden. Her Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer is packed with sample designs and recommended plants, and she explains the fundamentals of garden design in easy to understand and apply terms.
This winter, take some time to curl up on the couch with a stack of gardening books and your favorite beverage. If we can’t garden in the winter months we might as well revel in luscious photos of real life gardens.
Have a favorite garden book? Share it with us in the comments below.