Tuesday, July 28, 2009

August Farm Reading

More about this lull business. Take advantage of this quiet time in the garden to pick some luscious herb leaves for a sun tea, fill a tall glass and rest awhile with a good book. Here are a couple that I have just read that made me very happy. The first is FARM CITY: The Education of a Urban Farmer. It's published by The Penguin Press and is written by Novella Carpenter. It is a charming and often funny odyssey into urban farming. The writer and her fine fellow rent a house in one of the more rambunctious neighborhoods in Oakland, CA largely because there is an empty lot next door where she imagines she can put in a squatted garden. And, she can and does. Not enough, though, she orders the Homesteaders' Delight from Murray McMurray - one of the finest purveyors of mail order poultry, and receives her box of day old chicks, ducklings, goslings and, yes, poults (that's baby turkeys). It is a lovely moment as we watch her unpack her babies, dunk their beaks into sugar water, and set them free into their new brooder box. She graduates from poultry to rabbits and pigs, all the while gardening her empty lot, keeping bees, feeding the mostly poor neighbors, and sidestepping those who might mean to do her harm. It's satisfying book by a creative and energetic young woman that you will want to read and pass on to good friends.
WICKED PLANTS: The Weed that Killed Lincoln's Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities is by Amy Stewart. I love the feel of this book; its size and shape and the fact that it has a golden ribbon sewn in to hold your place. It is illustrated - with etchings by Briny Morrow-Cribbs and drawings by Jonathon Rosen - terrific images of the plants and editorial images. You will find some old familiar wicked weeds, and you will meet some new ones that you might have thought were friendly (corn) but which can be deadly. I have suddenly developed an insatiable curiosity about Old World Herbs and this book was a must for my learning curve, and quite amusing, too. The book is based on scientific fact (it is mentioned in Scientific American as an Also Notable recommendation) but it is fun to read and enlightening. You must forever beware the squirting cucumber!

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