Backyard Foraging, by Ellen Zachos (2013)

Nonfiction | Adult

Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Did Know You Could Eat, by Ellen Zachos (2013)

This handy guide to finding food on your walks and hikes was featured in one of my library’s newsletters, on nonfiction. I’m subscribed to several of these great newsletters from the Grand Forks & District Public Library that let you know about new titles on various topics, and also occasionally feature interesting gems you might not know about. This is one of them. The book is a few years old, but offers some great guidance in finding edible shoots, leaves and berries all around you. There are 65 entries, many of them quite familiar, such as the well-known dandelion for its many edibles, from flower petals to roots and leaves, as well as surprising discoveries like the annoying Japanese knotweed (aka false bamboo) that is so difficult to eradicate from your home garden. Turns out its young shoots are a great alternative to those canned bamboo shoots called for in many Asian recipes. While the author is from the American east coast, she has chosen plants that are commonly found across North America, many of them recognizable from the garden, such as bee balm and spiderwort. On hikes, you will probably come across wild garlic and hawthorn berries. Our common saskatoons here in the Boundary Country are also listed, under the new-to-me moniker “juneberries,” Each entry is typically four pages long, and includes lots of full-colour photos. There is information on when to harvest, where to find it, and what parts of the plant are edible, along with helpful guidance on recognizing the plant, what and how to harvest, and how to use the bounty in a meal. There is a helpful introduction that addresses tools for harvesting, offers tips on where to forage, reminds readers to beware of sprays and herbicides in parks and to ask for permission on private property, and how to generally make sure you are making good food choices when foraging. I learned that fruits with a five-point crown (like apples, saskatoons, and even rosehips) are always safe to eat, and to stay away from mushrooms with gills. Appendices include some preserving guidance and basic recipes, resources for further research, and a very good index. My thanks to the Grand Forks & District Public Library for including this title in its nonfiction collection, and grabbing my attention in the newsletter!
More discussion and reviews of this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16192356

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Creating the Vintage Look: 35 Ways to Upcycle for a Stylish Home, by Ellie Laycock (2013, 2018)

Nonfiction | Adult

Creating the Vintage Look: 35 Ways to Upcycle for a Stylish Home, by Ellie Laycock

This is a brand-new addition to our Grand Forks & District Public Library, and I can’t get enough of the ideas! With the growing emphasis on keeping our discarded stuff out of the landfill and even the recycling chain, we need to think about how to reuse things that are no longer useful in their original design. That’s what upcycling is about – taking something you no longer need/want/use and giving it a new life with a new purpose. Creative folks are hard at work giving us inspiration for what to do with old bedboards, pop bottles and whatnot, and Ellie Laycock has created a terrific little tome to get you started.

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All New Square Foot Gardening, 3rd ed., by Mel Bartholomew (2018)

Nonfiction
Adult

All New Square Foot Gardening, 3rd edition, by Mel Bartholomew and the Square Foot Gardening Foundation

Gardening is one of those passions that develops in fits and starts – it germinates (sorry!) in a sunny backyard; loses momentum when your apartment balcony faces north; and emerges again when time and space permit. In our corner of British Columbia, the summer sun is long and hot; tomatoes and peppers are much easier to grow than lettuce, which tends to bolt. I’ve had a couple of successful seasons, but I’m ready to move the garden to a better spot. This gardening classic first published in 1981 makes the crucial point that vegetable garden boxes save water while generating more produce. It’s also organic, uses no fertilizer and once planted requires minimal weeding or other work. I’m in!

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Mini Meadows, by Mike Lizotte (2019)

Nonfiction
Adult

Mini Meadows: Grow a Little Patch of Colorful Flowers Anywhere Around Your Yard, by Mike Lizotte

My first review of the year is always a garden book – perfect for spending a snowy day planning your  beautiful creation come spring. This new title, released next month, looks at creating a natural flower garden that puts you in mind of the flower-filled meadows in the countryside. No matter where you live, says Lizotte, you can recreate this effect,  in a large or small space. Once you’ve determined the space, you select the seed and start sowing, planting, or a mix of the two.

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Gardening in the Pacific Northwest, by Paul Bonine and Amy Campion (2017)

Nonfiction
Adult
Gardening in the Pacific Northwest, by Paul Bonine and Amy CampionTime for my annual end-of-the-year garden book! It’s the perfect time to start planning a better garden than ever! And this title is definitely finding a spot on my shelf. Regional expert Paul Bonine takes the lead on this project, offering a nuanced and informed understanding of gardening in the Pacific Northwest. The authors define the PNW area as encompassing Oregon and Washington on both sides of the Cascade Mountains, as well as southwestern British Columbia west of Hope, including the Sunshine Coast, Howe Sound, and Vancouver Island. While interior B.C. is not included, I feel confident in including my area within the huge swath called Eastern Washington and Oregon, east of the Cascades. Read More »

Welcome to the Farm: How-to Wisdom from the Elliott Homestead, by Shaye Elliott (2017)

Nonfiction
Adult
Welcome to the Farm: How-to Wisdom from the Elliott Homestead by Shaye ElliottThis isn’t the first book on homesteading I’ve reviewed, but it’s certainly one of the best. Shaye Elliott began sharing her farmgirl dream in 2010 via a blog, and has created a compilation that is beautifully illustrated with full-colour photos and hand-drawn art. It’s also comprehensive and well organised, complete with a well done table of contents and an absolutely excellent index. Elliott opens with an introduction that explains how she, the granddaughter of an orchardist, managed to convince her non-farmer husband to move across the country and take up farming. She then gets down to business, starting with gardening, focusing primarily on how to build a potager or kitchen garden that will fully meet your family’s needs. Read More »

100 Plants to Feed the Bees, by the Xerces Society (2016)

Nonfiction
Adult
100 Plants to Feed the Bees, by the Xerces SocietyAs I live in an area known for its bountiful harvests, and I am building a vegetable garden, it’s a no-brainer that my flower garden needs to include lots of pollinator attractants. For this reason, my annual garden book selection for your New Year is about attracting bees. This new title from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is aimed at gardeners and farmers in the US and most of Canada, excluding the far north. The subtitle, “Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive,” is a bit misleading, since the focus of the book is a list of bee-friendly plants, rather than considering all aspects of a habitat. Still, the premise is simple – plant lots of flowers and don’t damage or kill the native plants. Read More »