Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
The Blithe Tomato, by Mike Madison (Heyday Books, 2006; $15), is a behind-the-scenes look at the gardeners who grow food for local farmers markets. With the proliferation of organic foods, an introduction to the people who actually farm the earth is an eye-opening experience. They are real people with real stories to tell. Merideth, the Turnip Man, Marika, Ulf, and others grace the pages of this enchanting book. Mike Madison is an eccentric farmer with the voice of a philosopher. He says that "Every year I write a check: Pay to the order of Gophers, Six thousand and 00/100 dollars."
Clever Gardening Technique
Soak Potted Plants
Soak potted plants in a bucket rather than watering overhead with a hose. Indoor plants, in particular, like to be watered from the bottom. I soak my plants for 15 to 30 minutes in a deep container filled with tepid water, and sometimes a mild infusion of fertilizer. When the soil stops bubbling, the rootball is saturated. Allow pots to drain for a few seconds after soaking.