Paperback(Second Edition,Revised,2nd)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780761122753
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/14/2008
Edition description: Second Edition,Revised,2nd
Pages: 820
Sales rank: 195,295
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.98(h) x 1.64(d)

About the Author

Barbara Damrosch is one of the nation's most respected garden experts and writers. She is the author of Theme Gardens and The Garden Primer and writes a weekly column for The Washington Post called "A Cook’s Garden." She appeared as a regular correspondent on the PBS series The Victory Garden, and co-hosted the series Gardening Naturally for The Learning Channel. She is the co-owner, with her husband, Eliot Coleman, of Four Season Farm, an experimental market garden in Harborside, Maine, that is a nationally recognized model of small-scale sustainable agriculture.

Read an Excerpt

Green Side Up

I firmly believe that in order to learn anything you have to be willing to ask dumb questions. People often say to me, "I don't know anything about gardening," and some of them just let it go at that. Intimidated by the sheer volume of gardening lore that exists, much of it very scientific and arcane, they leave gardening to those who presumably have lots of time to read and better yet, have a "green thumb." But others, unable to resist a pastime they suspect may be a lot of fun, wade right in. I love people who ask things like "Why should I prune my plants?" or "What is mulch?"

The aim of this book is to answer as many fundamental questions about gardening as possible. I may not be able to anticipate everything you want to know, but I will explain how pruning can make your plants bushier, more compact, or more fruitful. I will tell you that mulch is a layer of material, such as shredded bark, that you lay down on the ground chiefly to keep weeds from growing and to keep the soil moist. And I will try to come to your aid when you're standing there alnoe in the garden, holding a plant that looks like an amorphous tangle, and you have no idea what to do with it. If I could go out there with you, I would tell you what my nurseryman friends Mary Ann and Frederick McGourty used to tell their fledgling workers: "Plant it with the green side up." Everyone has to start somewhere.

I'm the first to admit that I have my own idiosyncratic approach when it comes to gardening. Someone once called me an "old-fashioned dirt gardener," and I guess the description fits. I use almost no commercial fertilizers and no pesticides at all, except the occasional soap spray. I prefer hand tools to power ones. I take my cues from the way nature gardens, and also from the gardens of the past. I read as much as time allows about scientific advances in horticulture, and I'm usually willing to try something new, but most of what I do has come from just plain experience. There's no substitue for spending time in your garden and using all your senses to judge the results. Are your plants' leaves a healthy green? Does your soil feel porous and fluffy when you stick your fingers into it? Does your sick plant have bugs on it, or is there evidence of disease? Far more gardens fail because the gardener is absent or not paying attention than because he or she lacks erudition. Yes, you need to know your ABCs, but the more you garden, the more you'll learn what works and what doesn't.

One of the hazards of writing a gardening book is that the author is addressing gardeners in many different localities with many different climates, soil types, and selections of plants to choose from. The more exact the information I give you, the less it may apply to the specific conditions of your very own yard. I'd have to tell you what to add to your soil, for example, without knowing what is already in it. I've tried, therefore, to steer away from formulas, though there are times when saying "Add some fertilizer" is not enough. ("Should I add a spoonful or a bucketful?" I hear you asking) So use my recommendations as a starting point, and try to learn as much as you can about your own garden's needs. Local resources such as nurseries, universities, and the Cooperative Extension Service can be very helpful.

You'll find most of the general information about gardening in the first four chapters of this book; the rest deals with specific kinds of plants. Use the book by going back to the early chapters if you need to have one of those basic quesions answered. The index will help you if a cross-reference does not steer you to the answer at the point where you need it.

Gardening, for all its down-to-earthness, has always had some mystery about it, a mystery that each culture had its own ways of expressing. In olden days you might have had a village maiden dance around the fire to woo the corn god, or made a burnt offering of the harvest to thank the deity that made it possible. Now we do soil tests, make tissue cultures, and even try to become gods ourselves in our quest to create new genetic plant material. But I don't think we'll ever shed so much light on the subject that we dampen the awe a gardener feels when the first vegetable seedlings poke up in spring. We may never explain why we're drawn to flowers just as butterflies and bees are, even though normally we have no role in their pollination. Perhaps their form and fragrance are luring us to some fateful role in their survival. We'll never know all there is to know about gardening, and I'm glad there will always be some magic about it.

So just go out there and start doing it. It's often said that a green thumb is a dirty thumb. Choose good spots for your gardens, prepare the soil well, keep a close eye on things. And remember: the green side is always up.

Table of Contents

Greenside Up

Planning Your Property

What Plants Need

Gardening Gear

How to Buy Plants

Annuals

Perennials

Vegetables

Herbs

Fruits

Bulbs

Roses

Lawns and Ground Covers

Vines

Shrubs

Trees

Wildflowers

Houseplants

Customer Reviews

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The Garden Primer 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
gardyngnome More than 1 year ago
Barbara teaches us the basics - "think like a plant" - in a gentle, funny and convivial tone. I miss not having it around - I keep giving my current copy away to friends who express an interest in gardening. I went online to try to find another copy and ended up compelled to add my own review. I have a small suburban yard and Barbara has helped me bring it a level of usefulness and beauty that is immensely satisfying. I wish she were my friend in fact and not just through her pages!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Barbara Damrosch is a self-confirmed 'old-fashioned dirt gardener.' And, she's does organic gardening to boot. This book is a comprehensive, easily understood guide to all aspects of gardening it even includes a chapter on houseplants. I like that Damrosch prefers hand tools over power tools. And, that she uses her hands to pull weeds at times. The chapter on 'what plants need,' was terrific--covers the basics and gave me a firm understanding of what plants require to thrive. The book contains all you need to grow annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, trees, shrubs and vines. Indispensable! from the author of the award winning book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book, very good reference material and sound adavice
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gives lots of information and inspiration for new and experienced gardeners. It made me wish it would hurry up and stop raining!
Mela13 More than 1 year ago
This book contains a wealth of information about many different types of gardens, lawns, and plants. However, it is not overwhelming for beginners! Great organization, full of tried and true techniques and advice, and witty commentary. A must-have for every home gardener. The illustrations are not bad, but I would love more illustrations and color photos in future editions of this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great resource. It has a little bit about so many things, both overall tips and plant specific tips. I lost this book in a house fire last year. I'd just moved into a colder zone and struggled without my 'gardening bible'. I use it all the time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for beautiful color photographs, this book is not for you. HOWEVER, if you want a resouce book that you will constantly use year after year and one where the explanations and instructions are easy to follow, this is THE book. Sound advice, common sense approach to gardening, with thorough explanations about procedures to follow. Have many gardening books and this is the one in which I always find the answers!
bezoar44 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was the first book on gardening I read. Though the author's gardening experience seems to be mostly in New England, with a much shorter and cooler season than where I now live (North Carolina), I still return to it over and over for reliable, thoughtful, and good natured advice. It's a treasure trove.
peacegarden on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Great reference book. She is married to Eliot Coleman. I found the answeer to a question about insect damage to tomatoes and peppers only in this book, after searching on the web and within several gardening forums. She covers both ornamentals and food crops. A keeper.
linda27 More than 1 year ago
Very informative and fun to read. I want to plant everything she writes about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago