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Posted on 28 June 2010 by

Summer Garden Reading: The Backyard Homestead

backyardhomesteadBy Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

As I sit in my backyard and survey my beautiful and hopefully bountiful garden I crack open a new reference book.

I discovered this book at the local feed and seed store in my community.

The title and cover caught my eye among the canning, 4-H books, assorted DIYs, and tractor maintenance manuals.

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! edited by Carleen Madigan was not just another gardening book but represented a modern day movement that is cropping up everywhere. You can find it on the Internet, in neighbors’ backyards, and even at your child’s school.

The Backyard Homestead claims that 1,400 eggs, 50 pounds of wheat, 60 pounds of fruit, 2,000 pounds vegetables, 280 pounds of pork, and 75 pounds of nuts can be grown on a quarter of an acre. This sounds great and in a perfect world we would never have to go to the grocery store again but Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 11 December 2009 by

Review: The 20 Minute Gardener

the-20-minute-gardnerBy Vanessa Richins

I’ve always enjoyed spending time in the garden.

I listen to my iPod and work the hours away ripping out weeds, watching insects and animals, and just enjoying the beauty around me.

However, often life interferes.

You can find that between work, family, volunteering, church and a host of other activities, time just flies by. One morning you wake up and notice how many weeds have popped up in the garden.

As a potential urban gardener, you might also think that you wouldn’t be able to do as much gardening as you like because of a busy schedule.

A friend lent me his copy of The 20-Minute Vegetable Gardener: Gourmet Gardening for the Rest of Us, by Tom Christopher and Marty Asher. This book proposes to teach you how to have, as the cover proclaims, “the garden of your dreams, without giving up Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 11 November 2009 by

Book Review: Down and Dirty

downdirty_cover_smBy Vanessa Richins

I am absolutely in love with gardening books.

There’s something about flipping through the pages gawking at gorgeous pictures and learning new facts.

I also adore books that teach me new skills.

Down & Dirty: 43 Fun & Funky First-time Projects & Activities to Get You Gardeningby Ellen Zachos should be in your garden library, especially if you’re a novice gardener. The cover proudly declares that the book contains “43 Fun and Funky First-Time Projects & Activities to Get You Gardening”.

Would you like to see flowers blooming in the middle of winter? You’ll learn how to force spring-blooming bulbs at any time of the year. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 15 September 2008 by

Gifts for Urban Gardeners

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By Vanessa Richins

Are you searching for the perfect gift for your favorite urban gardener?

Here are some ideas that I think may work well.

Matchstick Garden

Would you like to get your children involved in gardening? Try the Matchstick Garden! Each one holds 10 matchsticks, with seeds embedded in the tips. Simply take one out and plant it, tip down. It won’t be long before you have a whole little garden growing. There are four different kinds available : Mixed Herbs, Wildflowers, Italian Garden and Mixed Greens.

Nyokki Monkey

Do you think the Chia Pet is too old school? Upgrade and buy a Nyokki! Named after the Japanese word for “grow”, these cute little sculptures can be planted again and again with grass seed, which will grow as their hair. There are several designs available, including a frog and a monkey.

Consultation With an Urban Gardener

Do you live in New York or know someone who does? Buy them a Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 28 August 2008 by

The Art of Shaping Trees

By Vanessa Richins

Whether your yard is large or small, you can experience the amazement and joy of a tree that has been shaped into unusual and wonderful new designs.

There are several different forms you can choose.


Bonsai trees can fit into any household. Did you know that these little trees are the same exact species that you would find outdoors? The Japanese have perfected this art of careful pruning and training over the course of many years. if you have the time and lots of patience, you can learn to create your own bonsai.


Topiaries are trees and shrubs that have Read the rest of this entry »

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