It’s official: Spring is coming! How do I know this? I found my first seed catalogs in my mailbox this week! I had to knock the snow off the mailbox to open it, but the catalogs were there waiting for me.
Yes, I admit it. Rather than bleed black and gold like many in Iowa City, I have mud in my veins. I’m a gardener, and I’m ready for winter to be over and done so I can get back to playing in the dirt!
But for now I’ll be content with my new seed catalogs and the new gardening books at ICPL. So far this one is my favorite:
Midwest Gardener’s Handbook: Your Complete Guide by Melinda Myers. Nicely organized and illustrated, this guide to Midwestern gardening is just that – a general guide. It covers a bit of everything: annuals, bulbs, groundcovers & vines, lawns, perennials, roses, shrubs, trees and vegetables & herbs. It sounds like a lot to cover in a 256 page book, but Myers does it well.
Each of the nine sections of the book are laid out the same, beginning with a discussion of things to think about – from soil prep to choosing seeds or established plants, proper planting techniques and pest management. Then there are page after page of suggested plants – including a short but thorough descriptions of each plant (hardiness, bloom period etc), a “Why it’s Special” description of why the plant was included in the list, and “How to Plant & Grow” and “Care & Problems” sections. Each chapter ends with a month by month calendar that includes things that need to be done each month of the year (including the winter months).
The last 20 pages of the book are so packed with information they should be their own book. The 10 page appendix includes charts on how much mulch, soil or how many plants to buy given your space, four pages on proper pruning, pages on creating beds or designing and building raised beds, dealing with tree roots, and twelve state zone maps showing individual counties. A glossary, bibliography, common name and Latin /botanical name indexes follow. Myers book is definitely worth a look if you’re new to gardening, new to the Midwest, or someone who just likes concise, well written basic gardening books.