Friday, April 01, 2016

Spring Into Gardening!

Spring is here and now is the time to get dirty and grow! Whether your thumb is green or brown, Richmond Public Library has an abundance of great books to guide you on your path to a green yard, an oasis of flowers and a harvest of fresh veggies, even if you only have a porch or patio to plant.

Many city gardeners are discouraged by a lack of space, too little sun, or poor soil conditions.  Two recent publications provide excellent tips for growing in containers, improving soil and choosing plant varieties that thrive in different locations.

Small-Space Vegetable Gardens by Andrea Bellamy includes garden design, soil-building tips, plant selection and other ideas for gardening on balconies, patios, parking strips and vertically up walls.  
Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet is a DK publication that explores a variety of innovative gardening spaces.Tips cover maximizing yields from intensive planting and choosing the best varieties for containers.  

Location and climate play an important role in choosing successful plant combinations.  Here in RVA we have hot, humid summers that vary from drought to downpours.  The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast by Ira Wallace begins with Gardening 101 and moves through each month with timely suggestions.  "August:  Heat and harvest" and "September: Second spring" are just two examples found in this valuable resource.

All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space by Mel Bartholomew is an updated edition of one of the first books to promote the idea that it is possible to grow vegetables in very small gardens. Using a grid based system, Bartholomew promises "more produce in less space with less work."

Fresh herbs can change even the simplest recipe and most are easy to grow in containers and raised beds.  Some may even blend in with flower beds and evergreen borders.  RPL has many excellent herb titles in the collection, including The Culinary Herbal by Susan Belsinger and Arthur O. Tucker. Covering 97 "tried and true" varieties, the authors share growing tips and recipes for vinegars, butters, pastes and syrups.

No outdoor space to call your own? Greenery confined to inside?  What's Wrong with My Houseplant by David Deardorff provides organic solutions to pests and diseases that may creep into your home. Includes tips for trees, vines, perennials and more.

Bulbs are one of the hidden gems of the garden, popping up when you forget them, hibernating at different times of the year, and multiplying annually. Not just for spring, these bloomers can fill the spaces between seasons and add a burst of color to a neglected corner. They are even good in containers.  The Complete Practical Handbook of Garden Bulbs is just that, an excellent overview, with hardiness zones and planting specifications for hundreds of varieties.

For the youngest gardeners the Library is filled with a "harvest" of titles, from specific plants, habitats, and gardening tips, to beautiful picture books that celebrate life in and around the garden.  Here are just a few titles to start.  "Dig in" to your local library for more!

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson. 
These friendly animals reap an extra benefit from their garden plantings: kindness.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner.
We can see the wonderful plants growing in the garden. This author skillfully introduces what's happening among the plants, under the leaves, and down below the dirt where many animals make their homes.

Older kids can get their hands in the dirt and create fun projects with The Nitty-Gritty Gardening Book: Fun Projects for All Seasons.  Ideas are arranged by season and include bean-pole tents, seed starting, hanging gardens, compost bins, winter terrariums and more.

Whatever your gardening pleasure, get out and get dirty and visit your local library for inspiration!

Upcoming RVA Garden Events:

Maymont Herbs Galore 
Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sunday Stroll in Dorey Park
Sunday, April 24, 2015

Virginia Native Plant Society Plant Sales
Various dates

Lewis Ginter Spring Plant Fest
Friday, May 6, and Saturday, May 7, 2016

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