If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I don't do book reviews. In fact, I kind of hate book reviews, because they never (EVER) tell the truth. Typically writers will give a glossed over review of the book concept, a recommendation that you should GOBUYITRIGHTNOW and give you a few press release quotes to round out the blandness. Really interesting blog post – right??! yeah – no.
So now that you know my TRUE feelings on book reviews, I'm going to throw you for a loop and introduce you to a book. WAIT! HOLD ON! DON'T LEAVE (yet). I promise you that I indeed reach for these books late at night when I can't get my garden out of my head. I promise you that I indeed did that weird book-lover smelling the pages thing when this book came in the mail. I assure you that this book will ACTUALLY sit on my bookshelf as a reference for years and years to come. I will also encourage you to seek this book out at your local library before buying it. Why? Well, if you are a garden aficionado, you will fall in love immediately and buy it anyway. If you are not, well it might turn you into one. This is not a sales pitch – it is a love story.
Meet Vegetable Literacy.It isn't a cookbook. It isn't a gardening book. It isn't a biography. It is somewhere in between all of that – a reference book – a quiet time indulgence that makes you want to eat....wait for it....vegetables.
...and herbs. Herbs upon herbs upon herbs. Split into family groupings, the chapters are long and expansive. This is not a quick read. It is savored like a delectable piece of gourmet chocolate, the rest of the box saved for another night. Yesterday evening, I read a portion of the book on onions and chard, preparing myself for planting today. What did I learn? That Egyptian onions grow bulbs on top of their stem and quite literally “walk” around your garden as they spread like wildfire. I was reminded to plant my onions with carrots together to deter pests (Did you know today the moon phase is right for planting root veggies?) and I was sorely tempted by a terrific looking onion tart.
Speaking of the recipes – Deborah Madison makes them all sound divine, but they look even better. The photography in 'Vegetable Literacy' is stunning. Perfectly composed, perfectly exposed, turning vegetables and the culinary delights they are crafted into, an absolute piece of art. Never have I been so inspired by a cluster of onions and the following page of grilled reds. My mouth literally watered.
Now here is the thing – I could show you photo after photo of the photos in this book, but it wouldn't do them justice. This book is one of those “touchy-feely” books. The kind you run your fingers over again and again – the rough texture of the pages a pleasing contrast to the slick and simple photography. You must go see it in person. Stop by the bookstore, head to the library – or yes, buy your own on Amazon. ...but don't take my word for it – open the pages and feel this book. It is a modern classic that you will love for years and years to come.
NOW. While we are on the subject of gardening books, I have one more to share with you. Again, this book would not be on this blog if it weren't on my bookshelf. Do you have any idea the number of books sitting in my basement ready to go to Goodwill? It is plain wrong. ...but this book? It sits right next to Vegetable Literacy on my bookshelf. Well, that is a lie. Both are actually sitting on my nightstand right now - I'm kind of obsessed.
Say Hello to The Beautiful Edible Garden. It is lighter and smaller in stature, more of an informative gardening book than the artful depiction Vegetable Literacy is. Paired together, the two are the perfect duo of inspiration and information. The Beautiful Edible Garden combines several different tactics for encouraging readers to create gardens they can quite literally eat. One is to highlight new plants that work perfectly in an edible garden. My favorite (and clearly dog-eared) discovery were these persimmon trees.
"The persimmons tree's fruit and attractive, changing foliage provide visual interest throughout the seasons. In spring, new leaves are a vibrant, chartreuse-green with matching flowers. As they age through the summer, the wide, rounded leaves, reminiscent of a magnolia, are full and provide great shade. In the fall, the yellow-orange color of changing persimmon leaves is vivid against the landscape, and, as the leaves fade and fall away, the brilliant orange fruits remain hanging on the branches through late fall and early winter, like modern holiday tree ornaments."
Can you just picture on orchard of these in the backyard next to the ancient apple trees? I sure can.
Full of (you guessed it!) edible components, the arrangements are simply divine and inspired me to get outside, break out the clippers and get to arranging again. There is nothing that brightens a winter day quite as easily as a pitcher of forsythia breaking into bloom overnight. Oh my HEAVENS is it beautiful!
To purchase Vegetable Literacy on Amazon (selling for almost half off! A STEAL at $21.74 ) click HERE.
To purchase The Beautiful Edible Garden on Amazon (on sale for $11.98 ) click HERE.
To visit Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner, (you DEFINITELY want to!) head over to Star Apple Edible Gardens !
...and if you would rather not read, but would much rather plant, join me today as I get digging in the veggie garden and get those root crops in! If you missed the window of planting time today, the next chance for planting is on the 11th – the perfect moon time for planting veggies and other annuals that bloom ABOVE the ground (As opposed to vining plants and root crops like onions and carrots). Of course, if you are living in zones 4-5 or colder, it might still be too cold to work that soil anyway, so hold off a few weeks! If you are in more temperate zones, make sure you aren't bitten with the spring bug this weekend. Seeds sown on the 8th and 9th will tend to rot in the ground according to the Farmer's Almanac. Just saying. ;)
Come back next week for more DIY gardening posts, moon chart analysis and planting updates, and perhaps a fun household project to round out the week!