Garden Dreams


Zinnia FlowersThe mornings last week had the feeling of fall with cooler air and a sprinkling of early leaves floating down. All summer long, I’ve been thinking about what changes and additions I want to make to our gardens for next year. I’ve been waiting for the cooler weather to get to work on a vegetable garden, so I’m excited to move forward in sub 90 degree temperatures.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener, a newcomer or a dreamer, fall is a great time to day dream, plan and get to work on next year’s projects. I’ve been scouring our collection for ideas and helpful information. Here are some of my finds:

Cover for the Backyard Berry Book

We’re lucky enough to have some wild berries growing at our place and we added strawberries last year, but berries are so popular with my family that I’ve been thinking about adding more. “The Backyard Berry Book” is exactly the book I needed to help me decide what would do well on our land and how to prepare for them. Book cover for

For now, I think I’m going add grapes as my ‘berry.’ (Technically they are berries, even though many of us don’t think of them that way.) I know very little about growing grapes, and I’m interested in table grapes rather than making wine. Starting with picking a site and variety, and ending in harvest, “The Grape Grower” seems to have everything a recreational grower like myself needs to get started. And it discusses table grapes in addition to wine grapes.

Cover for Plant Partners.This summer I battled weeds and poor soil in my new flower beds, so when I saw this book while shelving, I took it to my desk and ended up checking it out. I learned ways to increase yields, decrease weeds and improve soils with “Plant Partners.” I knew about using cover crops (planting during a fallow time to add nutrients to soil, deter weeds and reduce erosion, but there is so much more to companion planting. Some plants will share resources and nutrients with other plants, while other species actively inhibit the germination of seeds. I was amazed to learn about the tillage radish, which grows a large and deep root, and is planted to break up compacted soil and add nutrients and organic matter without having to till the land. The authors give thorough and practical explanations of when and how to use various plant partners. Cover of Seedswap.

Nearly all of my perennial flower garden is from seeds I collected while hiking or transplants I gathered from my Mom’s garden, or in one case, the side of a road in Kansas. Fall is a great time to gather wildflower seeds to grow in your own garden. It’s a fun and free way to expand your stock. You can also save seeds from your vegetable crops and sow them next year. “Seedswap,” will tell you everything you need to know about gathering and saving seeds. It also has me looking into “seedswapping” with other gardeners.

Book cover for Garden AlliesGarden Allies: The Insects, Birds and Other Animals that Keep Your Garden Beautiful and Thriving” is a new book expected to arrive late this month. I can’t wait to check it out and see what I can learn about beneficial critters and attracting them to my garden. I hope that the inside of the book is as beautiful as the cover is, in addition to having great information, of course.

Cover for Fairy Gardening.Not all of us have the ground to plant a garden, but that doesn’t mean the world of plants is closed to you. We have many books on container gardening to meet a variety of interests — vegetables, decorative, herb, year-round. The whimsical “Fairy Gardening: Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden” really caught my eye.

Inspired? Check out my complete list with more books about planning a garden, composting, making money and pruning: Garden Dreams Book List.

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