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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #42

Cool Season Gardener by Bill Thorness, 2013

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2013-07-01

Coll Season Gardener book jacket Most vegetable gardening books have a long, encyclopedic listing of favorite crops with a relatively short introduction to general cultural. In "Cool Season Gardener," Bill Thorness takes a very different approach--the A-Z listing is confined to a short chapter near the end of the book. While these few pages do contain some excellent recommendations for the late summer-to-spring garden, the heart of this book focuses on the practices of vegetable growing, especially for the cooler months.

To do this, the author invites you to change some of your basic concepts, including dividing the year into only four seasons. "Wanting to tend my garden continually throughout the year in our mild climate has made me chop up our seasons into a few 'miniseasons' so I can more easily plan and plant." Spring stretches into three parts from mid-February to mid-July. Summer is a short two-month season. Fall, in two parts (early and late), extends until Thanksgiving, while winter fills the dark months until early spring.

This is an interesting way to revamp the calendar, but more importantly it gives structure to the planting and harvesting schedule. Sadly, it also emphasizes that short summers are a fact of maritime Pacific Northwest life. But don't despair; the goal of this book is to help you make a success of those long, cool seasons.

Much of this is accomplished with techniques. One whole chapter discusses simple steps for extending the growing season. The next chapter (the longest in the book) covers advanced practices--to a depth of detail not found in other veggie books. Once you've absorbed the theory, the appendix gives you the specifics for numerous building projects. This makes it the perfect book for a handy-with-construction gardener--or perhaps the partnership of a handyperson and a gardener.

Unlike some do-it-yourself books, Thorness keeps everything upbeat and sprinkled with practicality and humor--and always with options depending on your skills and resources. "My brain agitates crazily like an old washing machine when I walk through the secondhand stores. Sometimes I take home a box of treasures; other times I leave with just ideas." You will leave with a treasure of ideas from this book.

Excerpted from the Summer 2013 Arboretum Bulletin.

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