Upper South

January, 2011
Regional Report

Books

Gardening for Uncertain Times
Our reasons for planting and maintaining a food garden are many and varied. For Carol Deppe in The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010, $29.95), her goal is to provide food both because of and in spite of uncertain times, be it an unstable economy, changing weather patterns, or personal injury or illness. A scientist and plant breeder, she endeavors to empower readers to re-think how to design, build, and maintain gardens. The first half of the book approaches the practice of gardening from the standpoint of emerging global issues. In the second half, Deppe focuses on her five essential crops for self-reliance: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs. The chapter on corn was one of the most fascinating I've read on either gardening or cooking in a long time. Although there is certainly "how to" information in this book, the main effect may be more that of getting you to look at gardening from a different perspective. A perfect book for several long nights of reading and reflecting before being slammed by spring.

Tool or Gardening Product

Earthbox
I've been growing all kinds of plants in containers for many years, but the Earthbox has been a particular success and pleasure to use. A self-watering container 28 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 10 inches tall, the EarthBox has a 3-gallon reservoir that wicks moisture upward through the soil as needed by the plants. Made of recyclable plastic, the Earthbox kit includes fertilizer, dolomite, caster wheels, and two covers. A variety of accessories are available, including a staking system, trellis, and decorative cover for the container, as well as plant covers for protection from frost, insects, and birds. The planter can be re-used for years with the readily available replacement supplies. What makes the Earthbox special? Anyone who's gardened with containers knows about the frequent watering required in summer. With the large reservoir, days instead of hours can go by without watering. Since fertilizer is applied just once before planting, there are plenty of nutrients for the plants and no worries with remembering to feed. The combination of even moisture and good nutrition means that those plants that adapt well to constantly moist soil grow incredibly well. The most productive eggplants I've ever grown were in an Earthbox. I've also used it for tomatoes, peppers, parsley, and basil, but there are lots of other possibilities. Even if you have a garden, the Earthbox is still enjoyable on a deck or patio. Earthbox is available at many retailers or online at http://www.earthbox.com/.

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