by Warner and Lucile Bowers
In spite of being old, this book was pretty interesting and gave me some new ideas. It was written by an older couple who were very avid gardeners- their neighbors thought them crazy about it ha- and their enthusiasm really comes through the pages. They write mostly about labor-saving methods and how they grew produce organically for health benefits. Their main emphasis was using tons of thick mulch- made from shredded leaves- we\’re talking over a thousand bushels a year that they processed- and salt hay. After the first year they never had to till and barely weeded their garden. Interesting to me, they didn\’t grow a ton of vegetables but focused on exotics and curiosities that weren\’t available in grocery stores, and put most of their home made compost not on the kitchen garden but on their beloved fruit trees and roses. I was impressed at the output of those peaches and more. Some of the information is outdated -to be expected- but I was pretty surprised to read that while they definitely eschewed using poisons to control insect pests (except for one or twice-yearly spraying of the fruit trees), had no qualms about shoveling up sand from roadsides after winter, to use in their soil mix! (They did leach out the salts with water and use soap to remove most of the motor oil residue, but still. I would not.) And they scoffed at being told not to use landscaping plastic because it doesn\’t biodegrade, pointing out the many tatters and tears in plastics they had tried using- I assume nobody knew about microplastics at the time. I admired their thriftiness and zeal for building things- but dismayed that their favorite seedling container was styrofoam coffee cups!
Anyway, it was nice to read about all their methods, favorite tools, preferred ways to tend to plants- comparing to what I do and taking away a few new concepts. They built and used cold frames, made trellises out of discarded items like hat racks and metal screen door decorations, built birdhouses and feeders, grew many varieties of berries and grapes, made liqueurs and wine, etc. Their outright enthusiasm for propagating plants from cuttings or sprouting things out of seeds from what they ate- just to see if it would grow- delighted me- I\’m of the same mind. I never thought of taking cuttings from chrysanthemums, I haven\’t yet tried air-layering to save my dracanea which is about to hit the ceiling, and I\’d love to have a huge shaded fern collection or figs in pots like they did. Much to admire.
Oh, and there\’s recipes! Not my usual style of cooking, but I\’d like to try a few.
Rating: 3/5 224 pages, 1974