How does your garden grow? Well, fellow vegetable-tenders, here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS we've been finding ourselves practically tilled under by all the hot-off-the-presses gardening books that have been sent to us for review. And—after working our way through all of them—we've chosen three that are full of interesting, fresh ideas. Here, then, are our "Picks of the Summer Season"!
Garden All Year Long
Gardening for All Seasons: The Complete Guide to Producing Food at Home, 12 Months a Year was compiled by the staff of the New Alchemy Institute. It's the result of 12 years of hands-on gardening experience by these knowledgeable researchers, at their own homes and on the institute's organic farms on Cape Cod and in Costa Rica. Dedicated to the "spirit of self-reliance in all of us" this 310-page softcover provides insight into so many different types of organic food production—from indoor and outdoor vegetable gardening to aquaculture and raising honeybees—that you probably won't know where to begin.
Garden without Soil
Want to find out about a revolutionary gardening technique that's tailor-made for anyone who doesn't want to spend a lot of time, energy, or space growing food (and isn't crazy about digging, weeding, manual watering, or messing around with dirt, either)? Then pick up a copy of Grow More Nutritious Vegetables without Soil by James D. Taylor. In this softcover text, the author describes his ideas on nutrient-rich hydroponics (gardening without soil), a method he's been researching for the past eight years. Of course, the concept of no-dirt cropping isn't new, but Taylor's book explains—with theories and practical information—how you can use this phenomenal technique intensively, with natural light and nutrients, in your own back yard (or on your patio or porch)!
Grow Produce in Your Back Yard
Our third "Pick of the Summer Season" is The Self-Sufficient Suburban Gardener, which describes land-based, limited-space production methods. Author Jeff Ball—a veteran backyard gardener himself—writes that he and his wife, who both have full-time jobs, were able to save $800 on last year's food bills by raising just about all the produce they needed on the 800-square-foot garden space in their suburban back yard! The Self-Sufficient Suburban Gardener has a well-organized, easy-to-follow text that's divided up into stages of home land use, moving from "The Beginning Garden" (which covers planning a food system, garden management, and costs) to "The Ultimate Backyard Food Production System" (which goes into raising small livestock and using barter).
In addition to being inundated with gardening guides, MOTHER is on the receiving end of a never-ceasing parade of cookbooks. In fact, we see so many that—like institutional meals—after a while they all begin to look alike. That's all the more reason why, when a collection of recipes happens along that both catches our eye and tempts our palate, we're pleased to pass the word along to our readers. And that's exactly the case with Muffin Mania, a modestly produced, spiral-bound collection of 61 different mouthwatering muffin recipes ranging from Sour Cream-Pineapple through Chocolate Chip and Honey-Carrot-Date to Seafood and Mushroom! Written by Canadian sisters Cathy Prange and Joan Pauli, the variety-packed booklet has become a bestseller in the Maple Leaf country and the authors are already getting good responses from folks south of the border, as well!
Audible Literature for Young People
Got a youngster around your house you'd like to introduce to good literature in a novel and very exciting way? Well, The Mind's Eye may have just what you need! This innovative and energetic San Francisco-based production studio is offering a whole series of dramatic adaptations of children's and adults' classics on cassette tape. The widely ranging works consist of beloved favorites such as Peter Pan and The Wind in The Willows, along with radio plays and humor, adult novels, and short stories ("A Christmas Carol" and "The Fall of the House of Usher" among them). All come complete with excellent readings by seasoned actors and actresses, plus fascinating sound effects and mood-setting music. The performances are practically guaranteed to capture the imagination of your entire family.
Continuing Education, Aging, and Running a Home Business
For anyone who wants to take a correspondence course at home, Peterson's 1983–1985 Independent Study Catalog lists more than 12,000 credit and noncredit courses!
With all the products for sale nowadays, it's hard to know what—in good conscience—to buy. If you're concerned about which items to avoid, you should get The Grapevine, a boycott information newsletter with the latest listings and background scoop on which products are being marketed by companies that follow repressive policies.
Over Fifty-Five, Healthy & Alive, edited by Hank Pizer, and A Popular Guide To Medical Language, by Edward R. Brace, are both available from Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. The former is a clear-cut, lively, and informative book that addresses the rarely publicized (but increasingly important) issue of what happens to us emotionally, physically, and mentally as we grow older. The latter book contains more than 1,000 medical terms that'are defined and discussed in easily comprehended language.
Finally, for a down-to-earth approach to setting up your own business, you might profit from reading Randy Baca Smith's saucy and extremely helpful Setting up Shop: The Do's and Don'ts of Starting a Small Business. Randy doesn't pull any punches about do-it-yourself hardships—indeed, she may talk you out of starting your own enterprise—but that's all the more reason to respect her positive advice!