Maintaining a substantial garden can take a great deal of effort, time, and funds. Jean B. MacLeod wants to make it easier for the gardener with a job, kids, and/or an active life to keep a garden bright and beautiful with as little stress as possible. To that end, she’s created a reference book designed to provide tips on how to plant, care for, and sustain a garden, including advice on how to choose plants that grow well together (and avoid plants that do not), how to fertilize, mulch, and prevent weeds, and what to substitute if you happen to need a piece of equipment you don’t have.
THE WASTE-WISE GARDENER is arranged in pretty much the same way as the author’s KITCHEN PARAPHERNALIA HANDBOOK – that is, in alphabetical order, with entries for gardening techniques and fertilizer recipes interspersed with entries for particular plants and how to raise them. The information she provides is thorough and wide-ranging, including such things as detailed information on what to use in compost to substitutes for flower pots and garden structures (for example, she suggests using a stepladder turned on its side and filled with dirt as an herb bed). A wide variety of common gardening plants are listed, with information on the conditions they prefer, how to prevent common pests, and what other plants are helpful or problematic when planted nearby.
There is a separate section for indoor gardening – useful for those without adequate outdoor gardening space as well as those who just want as many plants as possible – and an appendix full of helpful resources for the gardener who wants more detailed information as well. The writing is clear, straightforward, and practical, written at a level usable by both complete novices and relatively experienced gardeners who just want a bit of advice. There are a couple of places where the alphabetical system scatters related information in a less helpful and sometimes internally-contradictory way. For example, looking for information on what to plant with tomatoes, the “tomato” entry and the “celery” entry conflict – the first says to plant celery with tomatoes, the second to avoid planting tomatoes near celery. The “companion planting” entry does not help, suggesting only basil as a tomato companion. Cross-referencing and repetition of information does substantially mitigate this problem, though.
THE WASTE-WISE GARDENER is a clear and useful resource for the gardener who wants ideas on how to make the most of what they have.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader