Garden expert, Joel Karsten has experimented for years with the unique method of gardening right in straw bales. Need a raised bed to save your back? Try straw bales. Joel has discovered that straw bales allow you to raise wonderful vegetables in record time with few weeds. He has experimented and perfected this innovative method of conditioning straw bales with water and fertilizer for twelve days prior to planting directly into straw bales. Less expensive, small transplants can be directly placed into the extra warmth of these “cooked” bales with quick growing results. Seeds can be planted into a shallow layer of planting mix to germinate quickly. Discover how to use vertical gardening tricks with straw bales and how to keep pests away.This highly detailed and illustrated garden book answers every question, and has plenty of how-to’s so you will succeed with straw bales.
The Joys of Gift Books
By Marcia Allen
Technical Services & Collections Manager
Manhattan Public Library
Throughout the year, Manhattan Public Library is the recipient of a great many gifts. Often, donors will designate a determined amount to be spent and allow staff to make selections. Other times, the donors have specific titles in mind and provide lists of materials they wish to be purchased. Either way, staff members at the library are happy to accept those new materials, and gift plates are added to inside covers of books to indicate the donor or nature of the gift.
I bring this up because the library has recently received a lovely gift that arrived at the perfect time of year. Town and Country Garden Club has once again presented a very generous gift which allowed for the purchase of ten beautiful gardening books that many folks throughout the area will truly enjoy. If you are one of the many novice or accomplished gardeners dying to get back outside to dig and to plant, you’ll want to peruse the following:
“American Horticultural Society of Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers” edited by Christopher Brickell is an exquisite sourcebook. This is an updated classic produced by Dorling Kindersley that offers design plans, hundreds of photographs of varieties, and detailed advice on care and planting. In fact, I don’t think there’s much in the gardening world that is not included in these 744 pages. You might want to consult this excellent reference before even getting started!
“Gardening Projects for Kids” by Jenny Hendy is a parent’s delight. This kid-friendly book has just the right layout and interest to get children outside and enthused about their own plantings and arrangement. None of the tasks are labor-intensive, and all are lovely to view. Some even encourage the building of simple little walls and color-coordinated designs. There’s enough here to alleviate summer’s boredom and offer kids projects to please.
“Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie” by Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roosa is a reprint of an older book, with a fresh, new layout and full-page color photographs of each plant. Common and Latin names are included, and the origins of those names are explained. And you’ll be surprised at all the unique uses that Native American and pioneer folks found for these plants. This is a perfect companion for a long walk in the country.
“Seed to Seed” by Suzanne Ashworth is a vegetable-grower’s delight. This handy book encourages the thrifty practice of saving seeds for next year’s planting. Ashworth’s book offers detailed information about 160 different vegetables, along with instructions on collecting, storing and planting. All of the detailed steps have been tested and refined by the author and a wide network of experienced gardeners.
“Fresh Flower Arranging” by Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks goes far beyond simply gathering a handful of flowers and placing them in a favorite vase. The authors open the book with basic guidelines for the best containers, explain the accepted theory of flower colors, and discuss the shaping involved in an arrangement. From there, they devote chapters to numbered sets of directions and breathtakingly gorgeous photos of completed arrangements. It may sound odd, but one striking arrangement is an arresting mix of dahlias, sedum, broccoli florets and spring onions!
“Designing and Creating a Cottager Garden” by Gail Harland is a gardener’s dream. Besides the expected layout design and construction tips, the book offers different seasonal views of well-planned growing spaces that offer year-long beauty. In addition, the suggested plant varieties are grouped by tendencies to climb, cluster, or adorn borders of a growing space. And the plant directory at the back of the book is stellar.
“Flowers” by Carolyne Roehm is a tribute to the beauty of flowers. Missing from this book are the guidelines and suggestions of so many other gardening books. This one is just plain pretty. Full-page photographs of incredible flowers and the accompanying text by professional photographer Roehm make this a volume that transfixes the eye. Nature’s colors at their best.
This is not a complete listing of Town and Country Garden Club’s latest generous gift,
but it gives readers an idea of excellent new resources for those who must be planting. For these gardening books and hundreds of others in the library’s collections, come by and check us out. Your garden awaits.
Gardening in Kansas can be challenging at times—heat in summer, extreme cold and wind in winter, heavy rains or drought conditions. All of these factors combine to make it difficult to develop a thriving garden in our area. Using plants and techniques that are adapted to our local climate makes gardening easier, less costly and more sustainable. Choosing the right plants for the right place in your yard helps reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, pesticides and watering, as well as providing plants beneficial to native pollinating insects and birds.
Manhattan Public Library has several books that offer advice specific to gardening in the Midwest.
The Complete Guide to Western Plains Gardening by Lynn Steiner offers practical information and step-by-step photographs to help you through the basic techniques of gardening. Written for areas of the Midwest from Southern Canada through Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas, this book can help you choose just the right plants for your garden.
Prairie Lands Gardener’s Guide by Cathy Barash features 167 plants suggested for our area for a successful garden, ranging from flowering annuals and perennials to ornamental grasses. Full color photographs of each plant accompany advice on planting, growing and care of each plant, as well as sun requirements and, information on birds and other wildlife attracted by the plantings.
Perennials for Midwestern Gardens: Proven Plants for the Heartland by Anthony Kahtz contains 140 in-depth plant profiles as well as 260 additional recommendations. Each plant entry gives the common name of the plant as well as descriptions of its flowers, soil and sun requirements, propagation, insect or disease problems, and recommendations on where and how to plant.
Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens: 200 Drought Tolerant Choices for All Climates by Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden is a guide to all types of plants selected for their wide adaptability. Although this book suggests plants for gardens across the U.S.,each of the entries discusses soil and sun needs, mature size, creative design ideas, and recommendations for companion plants.
Their suggestions make creating gardens that require less water easier and more practical.
Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens by Allan M. Armitage is an excellent authoritative guide to native plants. Concise information on hundreds of species of native perennials and annuals is discussed, with entries including descriptions of plants and their habitats, hardiness and growing requirements. In addition, the author has included internet sites, addresses of nurseries, and other recommended publications for further information.
Xeriscape Handbook: A How-To Guide to Natural, Resource-Wise Gardening by Gayle Weinstein focuses on growing plants in arid and semi-arid areas, conserving natural resources in our gardens, creating an awareness of the natural environment and applying the principles of xeriscaping to your garden. Besides suggestions for selecting the correct plants for the area, the author also discusses the landscaping and maintenance techniques that will help your low-water garden thrive.
Xeriscape Color Guide: 100 Water-wise Plants for Gardens and Landscapes by David Winger offers suggestions for adding color to your garden through all seasons of the year. This is a perfect book for gardeners wanting to conserve water and mix colors and textures of flowers, shrubs and trees in their landscape.
In addition to browsing the books available at Manhattan Public Library, the best resource for local gardening advice is our Riley County K-State Research and Extension office, located in Room 220 at 110 Courthouse Plaza. Extension agents can offer lawn and gardening advice and have many KSU Extension publications available. Stop by their offices or check their web site to find a wealth of information about gardening in Kansas. Their publication “Low Maintenance Landscaping” is available online.
Check out one of our books or stop by the Riley County Extension office to learn more about sustainable and low maintenance gardening using the best plants for our area and have a beautiful garden even in the most difficult Kansas growing conditions.
For people with small gardens, planting food crops that climb can greatly increase yield. This book is a great resource for recommending which types of structures are best for each type of climbing plant. Part I of the book includes information about the why’s and how’s of vertical gardening. Hart includes illustrations of different types of garden structures and helpful tips for how to best assemble these structures.
Vertical Vegetables & Fruit also contains information about container gardening for those who don’t have a yard at all. The library has many books specifically about container gardening that cover that topic in more depth, though.
Part II and Part III of this book cover which varieties of fruits and vegetables are best suited to vertical gardening. She includes specific varieties, their properties and disease resistance, and information about which USDA Hardiness Zones each variety is best suited to.