We gardeners are a strange breed. The sight of bare ground appearing as the snow melts makes us itch to sink our hands into the soil and get things growing. Most of us have to remind ourselves rather sternly that spring is still weeks away.
Many gardeners start planning their gardens while the snow is still flying. Especially vegetable gardeners, since most of what they plant grows, produces, and dies all in one year, and they get to start new every spring. For some of us, before we can start thinking of plants, we think of garden beds.
In my case, raised beds. My yard is home to not only vegetables and flowers, but a very large dog. Raised beds were the easiest way to get him to stay out of my veggie gardens. I built my first raised beds eight years ago, and last spring I promised myself that it would be the last time I shored up the sides with stakes. This year I have to start over.
This time I’m doing it right. I’m going to build raised beds that drain better and are varmint resistant – no more free dinners for moles. I’m not building a raised bed in the soupiest part of the yard this time either. In that spot I’m going to try creating a rain garden to let Mother Nature deal with her bounty.
Thankfully, the Iowa City Public Library has a great collection of gardening books – from planning guides to plant care and everything in between. Two of the new books that are helping me with my planning as I wait for spring:
The vegetable gardener’s book of building projects: raised beds, cold frames, compost bins, planters, plant supports, trellises, harvesting and storage aids, by Cindy Littelfield and Kevin Ayer, c2010. For a gardener with a bit of DIY experience and a few power tools, the 39 projects in this book can help you transform your yard and gardens.
Rain gardens: sustainable landscaping for a beautiful yard and a healthy world by Lynn M. Steiner and Robert W. Domm, c2012. This well written and easy to follow guide to rain gardens starts with a thorough introduction to storm water and rain gardens, and follows with chapters on planning, building, planting and maintaining your garden. Plant suggestions are given throughout, and a large plant index of perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees follows. Features lots of color photographs and illustrations throughout.
Other new gardening books for the spring:
The Complete Guide to Greenhouses & Garden Projects: greenhouses, cold frames, compost bins, trellises, planting beds, potting benches & more created by the editors of Creative Publishing in cooperation with Black & Decker, c2011.
The essential guide to creating rain gardens: capturing rain for your own water-efficient garden by Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Apryl Uncapher, c2012.
Backyard Harvest: a year-round guide to growing fruits and vegetables by Jo Whittingham c 2011.
The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour, c2012.
The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Own Food by Monte Burch, c2011.