Garden reading

Published: Saturday, Mar. 16, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 17, 2013 - 10:20 am

Several recent books offer a wealth of information for both beginners and more experienced food gardeners. Here are some examples:

• "The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook" by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman (Workman, $22.95, 486 pages): A cookbook? This guide takes readers from garden to table, all aimed at helping people grow their own food – and love it. Wonderful, practical tips from these longtime organic gardeners plus 120 recipes to make the most of the harvest.

• "Grow This!" by Derek Fell (Rodale, $23.99, 404 pages): This book promises expert advice on how to choose the best vegetables and flowers "so you're never disappointed again." Fell, a former consultant to the White House garden, offers his picks for the most dependable performers in more than 120 categories.

• "The 20-Minute Gardener: Projects, Plants and Designs for Quick and Easy Gardening" edited by Kathleen Norris Brenzel (Sunset, $24.99, 288 pages): From the editors of Sunset magazine comes this Western Garden Book devoted to easy-care gardening. More ornamental than edible, these projects look great (and the photos are fantastic), but there's plenty of valuable vegetable information, too.

• "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew (Cool Springs Press, $24.99, 272 pages): second edition of this gardening classic, which has already sold more than 2 million copies. Bartholomew packs a lot of food into raised beds, one foot at a time. By thinking in square feet instead of long rows, this system is perfect for many beginners – as well as experienced gardeners.

• "Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Gardening: Techniques to Help You Get Started" by Katie Elzer-Peters (Cool Springs Press, $21.99, 192 pages): Part of a new generation of backyard farmers, this young gardener created a go-to, how-to manual with step-by-step photo illustrations. She breaks down garden lingo and explains such mysteries as how to read the back of a seed packet or fertilizer box.

• "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Small-Space Gardening" by Chris McLaughlin (Alpha, $19.95, 332 pages): Master gardener McLaughlin lives in Placerville and shares many ideas on how to squeeze edibles into tight spaces including containers, balconies and window boxes.

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