CAGS Recommended Books
Any self-respecting gardener has an extensive collection of books. No two gardeners will have the same ones and as they can be very expensive a good way to help spread knowledge is to lend yours to other responsible members.
This page lets you add a list of the books that you are happy to to recommend to other members, and you can even add a brief synopsis of the books' contents. If you are happy to lend these books, remember to put your name inside each book you lend to help avoid arguments about ownership later ;)
Books by Ken Thompson, gardener, ecologist, and senior lecturer in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield.
- No Nettles Required - The Truth about Wildlife Gardening.
Reports on a 3 year study of gardens in Sheffield, what worked, what didn't. Essentially boils down to - 1) Grow some trees in your garden to add different levels. 2) If you haven't got one, add a pond - doesn't matter how small. 3) Do not use slug pellets.
- An Ear to the Ground - Garden Science for Ordinary Mortals
Easy to read, witty, and informative about how the soil works in your garden, how it's impossible to eradicate other plants from your lawn, and how oil-based fertilisers have a lethal and long-lasting impact on the hugely important mycorrhizal fungus which aids trees and other plants in extracting nutrients from the soil.
- Compost - The Natural Way to Make Food for Your Garden
Explains how compost works, and how it's much more practical to use a 'high fibre' composting system than a traditional hot one. Essentially boils down to using waste paper and cardboard (yes, the inks are safe) to balance the wet and green stuff you add to the bin. Proportions should be about 3 parts green stuff, to 1 part brown stuff such as cardboard and paper. And adding the occasional dose of human pee helps to get things moving quickly. All this works, and our compost is seething with very happy worms.
- The Scythe Book, By David Tresemer
A book about using (and caring for) traditional Austrian scythes and other traditional hand tools to care for gardens and larger areas of land. I have such a a scythe myself, bought from www.thescytheshop.co.uk and can vouch for its efficacy. I haven't used the lawnmower in 4 years. Our lawn is now a bit longer than before, but a healthier mix of plants, and much better for bees and beetles.
- How To Make A Forest Garden, by Patrick Whitefield.
A book about changing how we manage gardens and arable land, suggesting that we use the land's natural 'desire' to revert to woodland to exploit fruiting trees, shrubs and bushes to provide perennial crops instead of concentrating on extremely labour-intensive annuals. Includes a wide range of recommended plants including perennial leek, onions and garlic, as well as perennial alternatives to lettuce, cabbage, etc.
- A Forest Garden Year DVD, by Martin Crawford
A DVD in which Martin explains how a Forest Garden works, what its benefits are over conventional gardens. The film focusses on his experimental 2 acre forest garden in Devon where he is running trials on perennial cropping of trees, bushes, shrubs and herbs. This is a rather amateur film (think Open University), but what he talks about is fascinating, and I think this is the way ahead if we are serious about feeding ourselves from our gardens.
- How to Grow Your Own Food
A gardening year book with fascinating details about plants and wildlife, written in diary form based on 'Dirty Nails' column in the Blackmore Vale Magazine. Who is Dirty Nails? No-one knows. His columns are posted to the magazine anonymously.
- The No-work Garden Book by Ruth Stout and Richard Clemence.
In the 1950s Ruth developed her own gardening method of mulch gardening in the US using extremely thick layers of mulch to completely cover her garden, thereby killing all weeds. She then planted seeds or seedlings through gaps pulled back. Her intention was to develop a method whereby she could continue to provide all of the vegetables she needed for herself and family with the minimum of work as she grew older and from a small area. She continued to do so until her 90s in the 1990s. In the UK this is commonly called sheet mulching, though Ruth used mostly straw bales for the mulching.
- The Permaculture Garden, by Graham Bell
Includes planning a garden using raised beds, adding ponds, etc. Concentrating on minimising the use of resources, and maximising garden output and pleasure. Bell gardens in the Borders, so has a knowledge of growing in the cooler Scottish climate.
Clive Simms's Nutshell Guides - 40 page quick guides.
Everything you need to know about . . .
- Guide to Growing Hazelnuts
- Guide to Growing Walnuts
- Guide to Growing Grapes
"How to store your garden produce: the key to self-sufficiency" by Piers Warren.