Rain Gardens

Rain Gardens:
Sustainable Landscaping for a Beautiful Yard and a Healthy World

by Lynn M. Steiner and Robert W. Domm

192 pages
Voyageur Press, 2012
List price: $24.99

In recent years, awareness has risen not only about the problem of water collecting in places where it shouldn't,  but also the problem with run-off, and what to do with it. All sorts of toxins run unfiltered into our waterways. Not good. What's a homeowner to do?

One of the answers comes in the form of a pretty simple solution: rain gardens. Lynn Steiner and Robert Domm have compiled a comprehensive guide for constructing them in their new book,  Rain Gardens. With explanations that are easy to understand, and illustrations and photographs that show and tell, the home gardener can plan and build a rain garden for their own property with confidence.

I attended a rain garden workshop two years ago, and though having someone there who could answer questions and guide the planning of your own rain garden was helpful, this book is every bit as valuable as that hands-on planning session. The book itself is beautifully laid out and the information is as thorough as can be, without being stuffy. I'm much more motivated to create a rain garden of my own after reading it.

Rain Gardens should be in every county extension office library, every bookstore, every home improvement store, and on your bookshelf if you have a property that can benefit from having a rain garden. Buy it and build it.

Lynn Steiner has a master's degree in horticulture and is one of the Upper Midwest's best-known gardening writers. The author of three Landscaping with Native Plants books and the former editor of Northern Gardener magazine, she is a frequent speaker at gardening and environmental events. Steiner lives in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Robert Domm is a scientist with the Water Resources Group of Tetra Tech, Inc., where he specializes in stormwater best management practices. As a photographer, his work has appeared in numerous publications including magazines, textbooks, and calendars. Author of several books, including Michigan Yesterday & Today and Lake Michigan Backroads, Domm lives in Rives Junction, Michigan.

The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing it. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like something, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener

The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener
How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year No Matter Where You Live
by Niki Jabbour

248 pages
Storey Publishing, 2011
List price: $19.95

Growing your own food has become a priority in more people's lives in recent years for a number of reasons. Probably number one is having control over your own food, knowing that it's fresh and safe and better-tasting. It's also possible to save money by growing your own, especially if you grow it from seed and save those from year to year.

You might think that summer is really the only realistic season in which to grow edibles in your garden, especially if you live in the northern climates. There are also spring and fall crops that like cooler weather, but Niki Jabbour shows how easy it is to grow your own food even in winter. Even if you live in Canada. Which she does. Now if that isn't inspiring, I don't know what is.

Niki explains that it's about the timing, no matter which season's offerings you want to grow. She lays it all out for you, including what to grow, how to grow it, and when to plant and harvest it. I was introduced to vegetables I'd never even heard of before, but then I'd never tried to grow anything besides spinach and carrots through the winter. Ever eaten m√Ęche?

Included are simple plans for a cold frame and a polytunnel, either of which can be a gardener's best friend for growing vegetables when the weather turns cold. Niki shares various other ways in which to extend the growing season for appropriate vegetables.

I found this manual for successful year-round growing to be one of the best I've seen on the subject. Following Niki's lead, there really is no excuse for not having fresh food on your table, whether it's January or June.

Niki Jabbour is a food gardener and garden writer who lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the host of The Weekend Gardener, a call-in radio show, and her articles have appeared in numerous gardening magazines. Follow her vegetable-growing adventures at www.yearroundveggiegardener.blogspot.com.

The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing it. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like something, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.