8 April 2009
In The Garden With the Fluvanna Master Gardeners
By Irene C. Burke - Fluvanna Master Gardener
Fluvanna County Extension Office: 434.591.1950
Bad weather can be welcome. It gives you a chance to catch-up on indoor gardening chores. A cool rainy day in April is a perfect time to relax with a gardening book, plow through your favorite garden websites, flip through a garden magazine or check the information on your seed packets and plant labels.
So lets take a look at some good reads. My criteria for garden writings are readability, ease of use, research based and affordability.
Four kinds of formats make garden publications readable: uncluttered layout, clearly labeled charts, bulleted or icon headings, and short friendly narratives.
The Virginia Cooperative Extension at http://www.ext.vt.edu/resources/ is easy to navigate. The information is charted, bulleted and narrated. Publications are easily printed from your computer or requested from the local extension office.
Dr. Linda Chalker-Scotts home page at http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/~Linda%20Chalker-Scott/ checks those persistent gardening myths youve heard or read about. Dr. Scott is the Washington State University Extension Urban Horticulturist, at the Puyallup Research and Extension Center.
She pulls together the most recent reliable scientific studies to confirm or debunk gardening practices. In Arborist wood chip mulches: landscape boon or bane? Dr. Scott weighs the advantages and disadvantages of using wood chips and comes out in their favor. She does the investigative work for you.
Unlike others that crowd the gardening shelf, these books check their advice with the experts or are written by experts. I call them dipping books. I can dip into any page without having read the previous page or the whole chapter.
The New York Times 1000 Gardening Questions and Answers: Based on the New York Times Column "Garden Q & A." by Garden Editors of the New York Times, Leslie Land, Dora Galitzki, and Linda Yang (Paperback Jan. 15, 2002) is a hefty but worthy paperback.
The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques (July 1, 2006) by Tracy DiSabato-Aust is a dipping book too: well researched, the product of years of experience with a chatty flavor and visually clear layout.
The following Viette books get us started and keep us going. If they were spiral bound theyd cost more but mine would be more tattered and worn than they already are.
Mid-Atlantic Gardener's Guide: Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. by Andre Viette, Mark Viette, and Jacqueline Heriteau (Paperback Jan. 15, 2003)
Month-by-Month Gardening in the Mid-Atlantic: Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. by Andre Viette, Mark Viette, and Jacqueline Heriteau (Paperback Feb. 1, 2008)
Ive subscribed to many different magazines but the Virginia Gardener is the only one that has outlasted the others. The magazines Ive given away had lots of eye candy, but were difficult to apply. Featured fads are fun to read, but often cant meet the challenge of the Virginia piedmont.
Seed Packet and label info
Reread these gentle reminders. Take notes but ignore them at your peril.
Tip of the Week
In the Virginia piedmont expect 182 frost-free days with springs average last killing frost, April 20-30. Its time to plant seeds for bush, pole, and wax beans; beets, carrots, Swiss chard, leeks, Bibb and leaf lettuce, radishes, onion sets, and sweet corn. Transplant seedlings of broccoli, Brussels sprouts (two-season variety, cabbage, and cauliflower.