Win One Of My Five Favorite Gardening Books

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of milestones here on the blog.

First, I launched my first ever sale-able product, The 2012 Garden Journal. The feedback on the Garden Journal has been fantastic. Thank you guys so much for your purchases. They directly support this blog, and – I hope – directly support your efforts to grow your best vegetable garden ever.

Then, the NW Edible Facebook page hit 2,000 fan likes. Wowza. Thanks, guys, color me humbled. About a year ago I was begging everyone I was friends with on my personal Facebook page to help me hit twenty “likes” so Facebook would let NW Edible have a page URL that didn’t suck.

When we hit milestones on this blog, I like to celebrate. And because I am a hopeless and incurable geek, I like to celebrate with book giveaways. (Well, book giveaways and bourbon, but you’re on your own for the hooch).

So I’m going to buy somebody a book.

These are my bedside table gardening books right now – the gardening resources I return to year after year and just love. Someone is going to win their choice of one of these books.

Growing Vegetable West of the Cascades by Steve Solomon


Why I love it: Cascadia-specific vegetable growing info written by exceptional gardener and exceptionally opinionated author Steve Solomon. This book makes no pretense to universality, but because of a razor-sharp focus on the Maritime Northwest it is the undisputed bible of vegetable culture for folks in my bioregion.

Who it’s for: Thoughtful and at least kinda-serious vegetable gardeners West of the Cascades from B.C. to Northern California. Gardeners looking for visual inspiration should look elsewhere; with the exception of a few sketches, this book is solid text.

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Ed Smith


Why I love it: If I could only have one general purpose vegetable text, this would probably be it. It’s an overview book, not a deep look into any particular aspect of vegetable gardening, but a lot of info is crammed into the pages. Smith has a cheerful optimism in his writing, and this book feels like advice from your uncle who really knows how to grow good corn.

Who it’s for: Beginning to intermediate gardeners who appreciate an all-in-one reference that won’t bog them down. While most of his techniques will be close to universal, Smith gardens in New England and it shows in his garden and his writing. Specific cultural information may not be particularly useful for maritime northwest or southern gardeners.

Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery


Why I love it: If Vegetable Gardener’s Bible is written by your kindly uncle, Encyclopedia of Country Living is written by your crazy-like-a-fox, back-to-the-land aunt. This book has everything – everything – from salting vegetables to using the feathers of your slaughtered chickens to growing coconut trees to dealing with bloat in your livestock. It is written in Emery’s distinctive voice. She occasionally veers off into personal anecdotes about her life, children and experiences in a way that you will find either completely charming or intolerable. I find it charming.

Who it’s for: People who like to dream about back-to-the-land endeavors. I couldn’t say whether this book would actually be sufficient for actually going back-to-the-land, but it’s excellent fodder for the big-time rural imagination game.

The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman


Why I love it: After growing year-round for years, I picked up this book and was completely inspired. Coleman talks about low-cost, low-input ways to lengthen the harvest window for gardeners in places with real winter (Seattle does not have real winter). His ideas about stacking passive protection were “a ha!” moments for me.

Who it’s for: Moderate and cold climate gardeners hoping to harvest year-round. Techniques will be particularly effective for large backyard and small farm growers but the stories and inspiration value are good at any scale. Techniques are probably not very applicable to gardeners in Zone 9 and above.

The Urban Farm Handbook by Annette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols


Why I love it: To be fair, this isn’t a book I’ve returned to “year after year” but that’s only because it’s a new publication this year. But it’s so good I consider it an instant classic. I love the intersection in this book of the garden and the larger picture of urban sustainability, including food and local sourcing. The two authors clearly have their own spheres of influence within the book, but this does not detract from the “voice” of the work, and allows them to show their respective expertise and occasionally divergent growing methods to good effect.

Who it’s for: This book is steeped in the Seattle urban homesteading scene, and will serve as a basic how-to manual for anyone looking to maximize their householder cred and small-holding self-sufficiency as much as possible. Advice, techniques and tone will be most appropriate for urban gardeners who feel their food production and procurement just might be a political act.


So here’s how it works – if you win this giveaway, you get to pick any one of these books and I’ll send it out to you, free.

But I need something first. To help me celebrate The Garden Journal launch, and ensure that it remains the most valuable vegetable garden planning tool around, I want to know what resource, information or planning aid would make your life as a vegetable gardener easier.

This could be anything – a companion planting guide, a plant spacing cheat-sheet, a dedicated temperature tracker sheet…whatever you as a gardener wish you had, but don’t. Whatever you’ve looked for and haven’t found. The more specific you can make this, the better, so “I wish I knew how to grow vegetables” isn’t nearly as helpful as “I wish I knew when to prune my cherry tree.” If you’ve already bought The Garden Journal, and want to make suggestions for additions or improvements, that’s great too. I appreciate and value your feedback.

So, leave me a comment below (one comment per person, please) telling me what tool would make your garden simpler to run and more sucessful and you’ll be entered to win one of these books. Contest is open until Tuesday, March 6th, 8 p.m. PST and winner will be announced Wednesday March 7th. Non-U.S. readers, you are welcome to enter but if you win we’ll have to figure out a prize that doesn’t involve international shipping.

Good luck, happy gardening, and thank you for the phenomenal support.

You guys rock.

 

3/6/12 Update: Comments are now closed for this entry. See the winner and get a sneak peak of what’s coming up on NW Edible based on your requests here. Thanks!

What's Next? The Anti-Inflammation Challenge Wrap-Up
The Book Burner and The Bermuda Grass: How To Become Your Garden's Gardening Expert

Comments

  1. Congrats Erica – I’ve enjoyed seeing your progress :)
    Tool = I’ve got pretty much everything I need. BUT I wouldn’t mind having a few extra muscly helpers from time to time!

    PS – I know it’s expensive to sent books overseas so IF I win, you could send the book to my mom who lives in Washington state – she could then mail it on to me.

  2. Something that I think would be very helpful (you probably have something very similar to this, but this is what I dream of having to fulfill all my organizing dreams..sigh..) would be a very clear yearly inventory sheet of everything I’ve got in the garden and of all the seeds I have. On this sheet would be not only a list of what I’ve got but it would have columns to write: (on annuals) where it was planted, how it performed, planting date and harvest date, what kind of mulch and/or fertilizer was used, what companion plants were used and was that an effective pairing, whether its worth planting again and if so ideas to make it better. (on perennial) where it’s planted, when it was pruned, when did it flower, when did it bear fruit(a.k.a. edible part), how much fruit was produced, what kind of mulch and/or fertilizer was used, what companion plants were used and was that an effective pairing, ideas to make it better.
    Hope these ideas help you in your refining process. :-)

    • Melanie – I’ve designed the enorno master spreadsheet of everything before an, in my experience, it’s a bit cumbersome to actually use and impossible to print. But I think you could modify and combine the seed database and year round planting guide (both available under the Downloadables tab for free) and get something very close to your description.

  3. I can’t for the life of me figure out crop rotations – I’ve even tried Eliot Coleman’s “put them on cards and rearrange them” but haven’t quite wrapped my mind around it. Thanks for blogging. This is the highlight of my morning.

    • Just a thought Nick – I have a master sheet of my garden made of paper and I put sticky notes on it with my crops. The next season I just put another sticky on top of the old one. I can then always peek underneath easily to see what was in the bed in the past. It’s old and tattered now, but I’m very tactile so it works better for me than anything else I’ve found. Worth a shot? /shrugs

  4. Congrats on your milestones!

    Besides a new brain that handles organization better than the one I’ve got, I think it would be helpful to have “cheat sheets” for each veggie we grow. Just one-page quick notes re: planting dates, days to maturity, how to harvest, etc. More detail than the back of a seed packet, but less than a university extension handout.

  5. A companion planting guide that’s based on actual data, not just hearsay or advice from an aged relative.
    Planning guide for what amendments to apply to which plants at what time of the year.
    Cheat sheet of carbon/nitrogen ratio of common urban compost items

    • Re: companion planting: I’m with you on this; I’ve been studying this and the hard data is few and far between. The vast majority of what I find online or in books circles back to the guide published in How To Grow More Vegetables’ suggestions.

  6. Congrats and thanks! I read your blog and also follow you on facebook. :)

    Tools I would love? A one-sheet Compost Rescue for Dummies. And I mean DUMMIES. Something like, if you put in kitchen trimmings, then also put in X. If it looks like Shelob’s lair in a dehydrator, then do THIS. If it smells like a garbage truck on a hot day, then add THIS and do THIS. I am a composting FAIL machine. I did just read Let it Rot so I’m feeling hopeful this year. :/

    Another tool: some kind of translator from “rows” indicated on a seed packet to a grid. I plant in raised beds and dont need to walk or move equipment through rows of veggies. How close can I plant different veg on the y axis? Onions and carrots and beets are easy enough to figure out, but the leafier sorts of things stump me. I end up crowding some things and overestimating others and ending up with unused space.

    I could probably think of a million things that would be helpful. I think watching whatever YOU are doing through the blog is helpful, so please do keep us posted with what you are doing in the garden. :) Thank you for what you do and the info you share!

    Meg

  7. Mary Pendergast says:

    Well I am a container gardner so for me it would be helpful to know what plants are suitable. I do see sections for that on seed catalog sites and look for words like “bush” in the name. But sometimes there is a flavor or yield tradeoff (e.g., patio tomatoes with no flavor) or sometimes that bush cukes needs serious trellising. So perhaps a guide with some specific details on what to expect, and the best choices with experience behind it. Thanks and congrats on all fronts!

  8. I’m still relatively new to gardening, so I don’t know enough about what I don’t know to ask for knowledge (did that make sense to anyone else but me?). The only thing I can think of to ask about is how to keep animals out of my potted plants.

    Example: yesterday I planted two garlic cloves that had started to sprout on their own. I woke to discover the two containers had been knocked over and dragged from one end of the house to the other, spilling dirt the entire way. I’m not sure which animal is to blame…

    • It makes sense to me, Patricialynn! :) I think I just need a guide to good guides. I get so overwhelmed with information (often conflicting) that most days, I just decide to wing it!

  9. I need a ‘to do’ list… when to plant, when to thin, when to weed, when to harvest….a list for each variety. Keeping each seed packet handy to follow up …well I just don’t do that. Writing notes on a sheet of paper so all my seed packet info is in one place started out as a good idea…until I put it in a special place where I could easily check it. If I remember where that place is, I can check off my tasks.

    And a flavor scale. When looking for varieties of berries (for example), I want the sweetest fresh flavor and the sales clerk says they all are. I buy the plant, nurture it, wait for it to mature and bear fruit. And yuck, the berries have flavor but not like those my sister has. She doesn’t remember her variety, so I go back to the nursery and try another variety. Wait another year…well, you get the idea!

  10. Tool: I’d love a blog post with a very clear explanation of what makes the effective difference between square foot gardening and row gardening. I mean…why isn’t it okay to just plant in grids right now? Is it purely the soil mix that makes the difference? What can we expect to happen if we use a different soil mix but plant in grids anyway? (Puget Sound garden).

    Tool: I second the motion of the previous entrant. I could use a Composting for Dummies lesson. I see all these words and ingredients in front of me, but they go in one eye and out my nose. ;)

    p.s. – I’m so super thrilled to find a gardener right here where I live. I’m tired of trying to guess how to adjust gardening from the northwest or mountain ranges. Yay!

  11. I would love a planning guide for small space planting of bigger things like fruit trees, vines and bushes. A more practical way of getting all that goodness into my tiny yard.

  12. Maggie Drake says:

    I don’t have much garden space, but as a totally compulsive gardener since the age of 8, I love to start vegetables early indoors and give them to my neighbors, keeping a few for myself. I experiment with tropical herbs and unusual varieties which need special indoor care. My “cold house” needs a heating mat with a lamp to help the small plants get off to a strong start in the low light, low temperature conditions of January and February.

  13. maryhysong says:

    I’m going to have to check out your garden journal. One of the things I’d love would be an easier way to figure out when to start various plants; so many charts are not accurate for my area, including the AZ Master Gardeners handbook! Some of their info is the worst because you can’t figure out if they are talking about seeds, transplants, planting in the open or under cover or what. Currently I use a combination of things, including intuition!

  14. Chelsea Wipf says:

    I am a raw beginner gardener…planning my first garden ever this spring! What I think would be most helpful for someone like me, would be something that lists each zone(I ALWAYS forget what zone I live in :/ ), when to plant/start different varietys in that zone, spacing, and companions that work for those plants. Thanks for the blog, it always has me thinking and keeps me amused at the same time.

  15. I agree with Nick, I really need someone to de-mystify crop rotation, some kind of visual aid or formula that makes it simpler. I am very new to gardening and hope to be successful! Thanks for all your efforts on your blog its full of great advice!!

  16. I would love to see some sort of visual companion planting guide that isn’t just a list of “__ does not like __” and “__ does like __” (which is a lot of what I’ve found around the internet when I’ve tried looking). I would also love to see some sort of list of veggie varieties that are best suited for this (PNW) climate with the vendor name, whether they would need greenhouse or hoop house or can survive on their own. I had a heck of a time going through the Year Round Planting Guide and cross-referencing your varieties with the varieties available at various seed sources, until I realized your main love of Territorial Seeds! :) I *still* can’t find some of the varieties, but I suspect this might have to do with what varieties the companies have available each year? Also, this request is totally selfish.. as all the lovely readers in other regions won’t get much benefit from it.

    Your blog is a major part of my (hopeful) success this year! I picked up compost yesterday, and will be heading out to smother lawn this morning. Starting some lettuce, chard, and kale seeds to germinate indoors after that, using your how-to’s about seed starting! And reading your how-to’s about up-potting to transplant the herb starts I impulse purchased while shopping for compost yesterday. Thanks for being awesome!

    • Kimberly’s post sums up everything I am looking for. I have tons of bits of reference here and there, but sometimes I can’t wrap my mind around how that would look in my garden.

      “I would love to see some sort of visual companion planting guide that isn’t just a list of “__ does not like __” and “__ does like __” (which is a lot of what I’ve found around the internet when I’ve tried looking). I would also love to see some sort of list of veggie varieties that are best suited for this (PNW) climate with the vendor name, whether they would need greenhouse or hoop house or can survive on their own.”

  17. I’d like to be able to keep track of irrigation added versus evapo-transpiration lost. This would help me minimize crop stress due to water. This would also help me with being confident that I didn’t wash my fertilizer beyond the root zone.

  18. I still cannot get the hang of growing berries–strawberries, raspberries, I know there are fall and summer producers but I cannot figure out what is what with them. I am not sure there is a way to help me, but that is what I would like to see, a berry shortcut.

  19. I’m visually oriented, so I think having the sowing/transplanting info written out on actual calendar pages would be helpful, along with the moon phases. Then I could glance at the calendar page for the month and see just what needs to be done, and when. I would still refer to the lists & tables for the more detailed info.
    I’ll chime in for help with organizing the crop rotation. We have two pretty large gardens, and stacks of maps going back through the years; every year we bring them out & puzzle over where to place the next set of crops.

    • Beth – http://www.gardeningbythemoon.com/features.html I bought one from them last year, printed it out and found it to be quite helpful and easy to view. I had discovered that I had urges to do certain things at certain phases of the moon and so looked into it and found that by instinct, I was moon phase planting :) Th calendar helped to plan it out better and there’s helpful information on the website too.

  20. This blog, and your knowledge and experience, are such a valuable resource. Thank you, thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom! I’m a fairly new reader but have come back over and over to compare notes to suppport my own garden planning process. The Garden Journal sounds fantastic and I look forward to getting my own copy…as soon as I get my taxes done. ; ) Anyway, congratulations!
    Something that would be helpful for me is a guide on companion planting. I am planning to expand my growing space by planting food crops in my front yard…beds that are currently just small trees, shrubs and flowers. Not only do I want it to be asthetically appealing, I want to ensure that it will be safe and beneficial to plant non-edibles with the edibles. I’m not even sure where to start!

  21. Whitney Lundy says:

    I’m a beginner gardener, battling 3 very young children, 2 cats, a dog, and very little natural light. I want a miracle tool that somehow let’s me start seeds inside my chaotic cave.

  22. Love to garden and as an herbalist, of course, that’s my focus. Love companion planting info, too and would love more info about what grows where…in my case.. What grows under Cedars? Acid-loving plants, but which ones are preferable?

  23. I love your how-to’s. No idea how to make a tool for this, but more than specific recipes I need to know “what to do” with some of these vegetables. eg. Ideas for incorporating turnips into my life. Maybe it falls under Year Round Meal Planning — so I’m actually using my garden produce, or rather producing a garden that finds its way into our menus.

  24. As far “tools” go, some sort of watering guide would be fabulous–like “Don’t let strawberries dry out, but apples can go x weeks between soakings.” I know that water requirements will vary a lot by region (I probably need a lot more extra water out here in Arizona than you do), but a relative index might be useful (for example, which plants need frequent water vs. less frequent, or which need to be soaked vs. a light smattering). Thank you!

  25. Thank you for the awesome contest! This will be my second year of container gardening on an itty-bitty back porch. McGee & Stuckey’s “Bountiful Container” and Ed Smith’s “Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible” have been my most valuable resources along with sproutrobot.com. I wish I knew more about how to cheat the weather system by starting things indoors (I live near Boston so my last frost date is way out in May). I haven’t found anything yet about how early I can realistically start things under a grow lamp.

    PS If I won, I would chose the Encyclopedia of Country Living because one day, I hope to have my very own homestead out west.

  26. Maria Martinez says:

    Since I moved from sunny Florida where the weather is more or less constant heat I don’t know what vegetable to plan for different seasons… here it can get pretty cold, so a lot of my vegetables got rotten before they were ready to harvest. I am looking for a list of what vegetables should I sow, when to start the seeds, etc for the different seasons….. and more information regarding backyard vegetables plots, how to planned, etc Thank you

  27. A seed-saving cheat sheet! Especially for seeds from plants just left to flower with no concern for isolation or timing. E.g.,
    (1) will be fairly true to variety – go for it!
    (2) will be kinda close – give it a try if you want
    (3) will be an inbred, toxic mutant – avoid
    Etc. You get the idea: a one page reference for those of us without a plan to add that super complicated layer to gardening required for saving brassica seed, but who would like to save something from time to time….

    • Kathleen says:

      I am pretty new to your blog and also started following you on facebook. I have already learned so much as a baby/toddler gardener, so thank you! I am playing catch-up with spring planting and would love to know when you really have to start seeds inside (and when you need lights vs when you can just start inside without them) vs when you can sow directly outside for each veggie of each season. I am also very curious about what flowers and/or veggies to plant near each other to help with beneficial insects & disease control. I’d also like a new landlord who would let me tear out my rental lawn, but you’re probably not *that* good at gardening.

  28. What a fun giveaway!

    I’d love to know what NOT to plant as companions/succession plantings.

  29. Personally, I’d love some kind of guide or tool that helps me figure out how much to plant at a time, especially when succession planting. I seem to be terrible at estimating how much we’ll need and what’s likely to produce a lot versus a little (okay, except zucchini – that always seems to overproduce).

  30. I’m still a newer gardener and I would love to have more info about plant spacing (when not utilizing rows and multiple beds). I have an 8×10 plot and want to know how to maximize it. Someday I’ll have lots of raised beds to work with, but for now I just need some simple advice on how much I can pack into my small space.

  31. Every year, we buy way too many seeds. Then we ridiculously overplant some things, and ridiculously underplant others. I want some sort of something that tells me how many seeds to buy, and then how much to plant of each thing. Also would love some sort of resource on crop rotation that is easy to understand. And, how to plant things so they are in the right amount of sun or shade. I know it says on the seed packets, but somehow I just run out of space in the sun, or the shade, and can’t get the hang of how to do things otherwise.

  32. i wasnt going to sign up, i don’t need any more gardening books. but oh- wait. that last one? okay, i need it.
    so, here’s what would be most useful for me in the garden planning department. a secretary. i do the master planning just fine, but i need a more reliable human than i am to enforce my plans. she should debrief me at the beginning of each week as what’s on the calendar, and follow me around when i’m digging, planting and general mess-making. she needs to hold my sketch up for me while my hands are too dirty (she needs to remember to bring it in the first place) and tell me where exactly i had planned to put those 6 cabbages. preferably she would also follow me on harvest days and take dictation. “i guess i don’t actually like romanesco, remind me not to order it next year. man these peas are putting out though. i should have planted more.” she should be able to write short-hand, i can talk fast. also, providing me with a cup of coffee now and again wouldn’t be amiss. could she be just a little hot?
    okay, okay. for real? i havent looked to see what all you have in there already, but the things i consider most useful are a chart of how much my family could potentially eat of each crop, and therefore my ideal output, what kind of harvest i am likely to get out of each crop. then the season calendar, which i’m sure you have, i just use graph paper and colored pencils to depict seeding date, transplant date, in the ground time, harvest window, and available from storage period.
    but, surely you have all that. i did see a list of days till germination at different temperatures once that i found very useful… oh, how about a list of gardening books by region? i’m just grasping at straws here so i can get my name in the hat. this is shameless.

  33. Ein Middlebrooks says:

    Hi Erica
    I think the things that I am finding lacking in terms of information…is how to intensively grow fruit in a small yard. I love your quartets. I have seen people prune them into a tight Christmas tree shape that is only a foot or two wide. But I’ve never seen how to accomplish it in a pruning sense. And when exactly. The fruit information out there seems to be based on people with a bit of space for their dwarf trees. Another thing I haven’t read in my books is the technical part of seed starting. Lots of info about seeding schedules etc, but I’m looking for :
    ‘should you use a heat mat’
    ‘if you use grow lights, how many do you need per flat of seedlings, how far above the plants should they be?’ What temperature should a greenhouse be in the winter to grow veg or seed flats?
    There are a purple of things I’ve been looking for but can’t find.
    I hope this is a lot of fun for you!!!
    Erin

    • Erin- actually, this is beyond fun. The value in these comments as inspiration for future tools and post is tremendous! One of the great risks for me in being comfortable with certain techniques like seed starting is that I forget about the time when I didn’t know how high above the seedlings the lights should be. So, yeah, this is solid inspiration gold to me. Thanks. :)

  34. I have two of those books and love them, and trust I would like the other three as well. Have you read Novella Carpenter’s Farm City? It’s my favorite “urban” homesteading book, she is hilarious. Things that would be useful to me: a plant spacing guide, composting for dummies (as someone else mentioned), and how to save seeds – I know it can’t be that complicated, but it intimidates me for some reason.

  35. I’d like to receive an email alert when the weather station forecast is for below zero temperatures, so I can throw on extra winter protection. I realize most people just look at the forecast every day, but I keep forgetting.

  36. As a suburban gardener, I am pretty limited in space. I would love to know not the recommended plant spcing, but way to maximize my harvest by intensive gardening. Space, companion planting, etc. What we all really need is a ‘plant this NOW, rip this up now and plant this for a fall harvest’ with dates all relative to our planting zones (I’m in TX – we started tomato seeds in the beginning of Jan), but that would be quite a bit of work for you! However, it would make it more applicable to your readers across the states!

    • Tiffy – it may be a bit of a research quest, but you might find some documents at extension schools and through the ATTRA that go into the trade-offs involved in plant spacing – further apart leads to larger plants but fewer of them. It turns out that commercial growers think about this quite a lot – they are driving for maximum yield by weight in most cases, even if that means a larger number of smaller plants. I found some stuff on garlic, for example, that clearly shows a peak of total (weight) yield at a point slightly closer together than the typical backyard gardener would go for.

  37. Tammie Haley says:

    I’ve recently see some really cool vertical gardening “pockets” I really want to give them a try, but I don’t know how well they really work. (Especially if up against a wall.) I have so much stuffed into my little backyard, that I really can only go UP. Also we have a neighborhood racoon that loves my garden now because it is all organic. Can I borrow someone’s dog for a few days to help chase it off? LOl.

  38. Erica that’s great! I’m dreaming of your success :)

    Tool: A simplified chart or 1 page set of guidelines that explains what my soil needs, depending on what plants I have planted. I have wanted to add lime, potash, etc… as per my happy gardening books but it’s all so confusing! And how much do I really add? When do I add it? Honestly, it’s been so intimidating I haven’t even bothered.

  39. I would love a guide to native, solid-performance ground cover (PNW). I’ve got solid knowledge about the veggies, but oh my the mud in my little yard needs some control. I’ve only been in my space a very short time so I’m in researching mode!

  40. Congrats on your success!
    A indoor seed starting schedule for my time zone.

  41. I like the idea above for some kind of frost warning alert system!

    Also, not sure if this makes sense, but I’d love some kind of interactive calendar that would let me input what I want to grow…spring peas, potatoes, fall kale, etc…then add my frost dates and would populate a calendar with the major garden tasks like starting seeds indoors, when to transplant, when to sow seeds indoors, thin, fertilize, and so on.

    If it could be combined with the monthly garden to do lists, it would be like a garden mom bossing you about and telling you what to do. Maybe there is something like this out there, but the seed starting helpers I’ve seen are all in table form and I’d love something more calendar oriented. And I know I could just write this all out myself, but…

  42. I wish I had a good guide for exactly what to do when (gardening-wise) in the deep south, intended for a spanking new beginner.

  43. I actually would just love a good gardening in Alberta book. We’ve got a really short growing season and while we use cold frames and other such I’d love to have a really local specified book on growing!

    Congrats on 2000 likes!

  44. I’m a beginning vegetable gardener (I’ve grown native perennials, etc.) and I’m anxious to grow as much as I can this year in a partly shady southeastern garden. Much of it will have to be in pots on the deck, to get away from deer and to catch the most sun. some can be on the ground and will have to be protected from herbivores. In winter, I can put in a bigger garden on the ground. I need something that will help me coordinate what I plant and when, in a small space with succession plantings. I’m feeling overwhelmed and I know it would be much easier if I only planted a little each season but I need to grow as much as I can because of money constraints and because some produce is not available locally otherwise.

    I suppose something that lets me categorize the plants according to season, companion planting, time to maturity, a way to schedule successive plantings, and their cultural needs, all in one place so I can sort it all out. I think I need your garden journal plus all the things you suggested. I need a detailed plan to make the most of my limited space and coordinate it all.

  45. Congrats on your milestone! Honestly, I could use a few more muscles! No, for real, I could use a rototiller. I screwed up in the beginning and saved a mere 45 dollars when I purchased the dirt for my raised beds, and it has (in 1 winter) turned into dirt cement, and I will spend the rest of my days tilling in compost, peat, and sand to lighten it up… Oyvay!!

    I also would LOVE to learn more about companion planting and rotations… This is my 4th year gardening, and I am still learning every day. I don’t think the learning ever stops!

  46. Karen Varo says:

    I live in Brooklyn, New York and I’m about to start my third summer growing my own vegetables. My big question is this: Short of building a cage around the entire garden, what can I do to keep the feral cat population from using my garden as a toilet? I have tried putting down orange peels, putting down “Dried Blood” (recommended from the garden store), planting geraniums, etc., but nothing seems to work. If you could give me some guidance on this subject, I’d be *so* grateful! Thanks!

    • Do you raise-bed garden? My neighbor has excellent success planting her raised beds with starts or seeds and then fitting hog-wire fencing pieces over the bed, with the edges tucked down so the fence portion sort-of “hovers” over the soil 3 or 4 inches off the ground. The 2×4″ ish opening of the hog fence will let anything grow up and through but the cats can’t get to the dirt to dig.

  47. I like CJs idea… a personal secretary/helper would be perfect! But really my thing right now is learning about fruit trees/berry bushes. You seem to know a lot — root stock choices, where to plant, how close together, pruning times, etc. It’s probably different for each zone, but anything along those lines would be great.

  48. Sarah G. says:

    I am new to gardening. :) We rent and so I can not make a garden in the hard but am going to try pot/container gardening with tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, green onions and some herbs. My mom lives a few miles away so we are going to try squash and didn in her yard. I am looking for any and all tools (a lot of how to books) since I’m just begining. I really excited to get start this spring as are my two little helpers (Hayden – 5 and Blake – 3). If I win I think I would like the book ‘The vegetable gardener’s bible’ I think it would be the most helpful as a begining gardener. Thank you for your consideration. – Sarah

  49. I would love to have a chart or some kind of form to keep track of what kind of seed I planted, brand of that seed, any soil prep or additions I made, companion plants, and a place to track it’s growth over the weeks/months of it’s growing season, when it was first ready to harvest, when I harvested the last of it and a place for comments for future use of that seed/disasters/ things best about it etc. I would prefer that it fit in a 3 ring binder, probably need to go sideways/landscape direction. It would be nice to have both a computer version and a printable version that I can handwrite on.

  50. Congrats on your milestone!

    I could really use a concise cover crop and amendments summary for specific crops. Which cover crops are best to do before and after which food crops? Which amendments and when? I’ve tried to sort through Eliot Coleman’s and while it’s all brilliant, I could use something more simple.

    Thanks for all you do to educate and inspire!

  51. A smaller (than I’ve seen advertised) worm bin to fit easily in the closet off my deck.

    Thanks for all your efforts.

  52. Definitely a seed spacing guide.I am always guilty of over planting!

  53. Terri Estey says:

    I just found your Blog today via ApronStringz’ Calamity Jane. And boy, am I glad I did! Not only are the above books on my wish list already–but your Blog is excellent! I can’t wait to dig into all the different topics.

    As far as gardening goes, I’ve read several of the above posts and many of them hit a chord with my gardening experiences so far. But as far as one thing for me personally? I wish there was a computer tool where you could layout your entire gardening space, enter what you want to plant that’s permanent, the zone you live in, the direction of your space and then, voilla–it could tell you what you should plant where, and what vegetables would do well along side of your perennials. Maybe it could also ask you what vegetables you’re interested in planting/eating and then it could lay it all out for you. Yeah, I know…DREAM ON! But hey, if I could have one tool–that would be it!

  54. Since I have a bad back I could use a couple of helpers right now to clean up the garden, add the chicken manure Ive got and help me plant. Or…….I could use new really good soil. I have raised beds that were put in two yrs ago. The soil looked great …..found out how dead it really is so Im working hard to amend it best I can. :) And I found you recently too cuz Im in the PNW and was looking for local to the area blogs and pages. :)

  55. I would love to have an easy trouble-shooting guide for plant problems. I hate seeing that something is clearly wrong with a plant but not knowing if it’s a disease or insects or what. And I really despise having to wade through pictures of really disgusting looking bugs to try to figure this out.

    Also, if there’s any magic tool for getting me to stop planting things I know we don’t like, that would be super helpful. Why did I buy parsnip seeds??

  56. A harvesting guide for the northwest. I’m the worst when it comes to knowing when things are ready.

  57. I really need a book with companion magnetic or dry erase chart that will walk me through the unimaginably difficult process of succession planting and rotating garden beds at the same time. Just when I figure out what to plant when I rip out my peas, I remember that I had Brussels Sprouts there last year, and should probably plant something else. If it could remind me when I needed to start letting portions of the g rden rotate out and go fallow… that would be truly amazing!

    Do they make an app for that?

  58. I get too overwhelmed w/ the planning of a garden. I need someone to tell me what to do! Okay, we will start seeds this week. How? Go to store and get this/this & this. This is how you plant seeds. Then a guide of week 1-through transplant time I’ve got seeds sprouted and now I am in a panic as what to do next!

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