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!