Thursday, March 24, 2016

State of the garden

Spring really is here; suddenly there are tiny leaves showing right at soil level that weren't there just a couple of days ago. The daphne is blooming; the crocus seem to have suffered gopher depredation but are blooming. The new hyacinths have their noses poked up but for some reason the older ones are not. Every few days I plant some more sees; so far, the Brilliant Oriental poppies are up, as are the Firefly heucheras but they do not have true leaves yet. Two artichokes are up and each have one true leaf. One vining asparagus is up. But nothing else is germinating. I'm really eager to do more, but Tim doesn't want millions of plants going in and out every morning and evening. I'm not sure what the problem is since I'm the one who normally deals with that.

There are finally tiny buds on the Amur maple that I figured only had a 50% chance; it was growing in the rocks at a client's house, with it's roots hopelessly entangled in the weed fabric. I did a lot of damage to the roots getting it out and really didn't cut it back. But at least part of it survived... the variegated meadowsweet is showing life to day, too. Still nothing from the agastaches or some others; a couple of really hardy salvias have vanished! We seem to have bought about 8 new primroses; gorgeous colors. They live out on the porch and are thriving there.


Did some raking of leaves and cutting back of dead stuff today; my back is telling me about it now. I am *so* not ready to start working! It's going to be a painful couple of weeks getting into the rhythm of gardening again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Plant Lover's Guide to Primulas, by Jodie Mitchell and Lynn Lawson. Timber Press, 2016



This book is pure eye candy for gardeners. It contains a huge number of photographs of both primulas close up and garden and wild settings. It lists a huge number of both species and varieties of primula, in every color you can imagine, including true blue. They include what type of growing conditions the plants want (some can be in very moist areas; others need well draining soil) and what plant companions they do well with. The only  problem with a lot of these plants is that they are only available from the author's nursery in France; they do ship to the USA but of course you have to pay for a phytosan certificate.

The authors have been growing primulas from both seed and divisions for years; they are the caretakers of the famous Barnhaven strains that include doubles, hose in hose, laced,  and other delights. So they know what they are doing with primulas and can give the best advice. This would make a great gift for the gardener on your list.

<iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=mancatman-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1604696451&asins=1604696451&linkId=4FC25YL2MMNSB3FK&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true">
</iframe>

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- Amazon will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free from Net Galley in return for an impartial review. 

Neither of these things influenced my review. 

Taste of Beirut, by Joumana Accad. Health Communications, Inc., 2014





This cookbook is incredibly thorough. Lebanese cooking uses a number of ingredients and techniques that are not commonly used in American kitchens, but Accad demystifies
them all, making them do-able fast enough to suit today’s busy life style.

After introducing all the new ingredients, the author starts by showing how to make ahead many of the staples of the Lebanese kitchen: garlic paste, citrus-tahini sauce, bread doughs, meat stuffings, and other sauces. These things can be frozen and pulled from the fridge as needed. From there she launches into regular cookbook format; breads, soups, salads, dips, main courses, sides, and desserts. While I have not yet had a chance to make any of the recipes, I have read through many of them and found them easy to follow and delicious sounding. I really can’t wait to try some of them!




<iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=mancatman-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0757317707&asins=0757317707&linkId=DOB7UQWHCJCE4OY5&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true">
</iframe>

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- Amazon will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free from Net Galley in exchange for an unbiased review. 

Neither of these things influenced my review.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Field Guide to Peppers: 400 Varieties, Where They Come From, How Hot They are, Dave DeWitt and Jamie Lamson. Timber Press, 2015





Dave DeWitt has been working with peppers for decades, is the founder of Chile Pepper magazine, and has been dubbed “The Pope of Peppers”. Jamie Lamson is the “Chile Goddess”, and the owner of ChilePlants.com, which grows 500 varieties of hot and sweet peppers and ships plants in spring and fresh chilies in September. This duo is uniquely suited to write the definitive book on peppers.

The book covers the five main domesticated species of peppers; Capsicum annuum has a number of subsets such as jalapenos, Europeans, pimentos, wax, Asians, and bells so that section is subdivided. Did you know that there are 27 different named cultivars of cayenne peppers alone? Each entry has a color photograph, the cultivar name, where the pepper first came into cultivation, the size of the plant and of the pod, the time to harvest, and the heat level. Here’s the only problem I have with the book: they give the heat levels by ‘mild, medium, hot,” etc instead of the Scoville units for the peppers. There is a chart that tells what the range of Scoville units is for each category, but still, ‘Medium’ covers 2500 to 10,000 Scoville units and that’s a heck of a range. I’d prefer to see the actual SHU for each pepper. Some entries also have comments about the pepper, such as uses in cuisine, growing tips, etc.

I think it’s a great book; I get so confused looking over huge sections of pepper seeds and wondering how they compare to each other. This book will unravel a lot of that confusion.This would be a great reference for the chile head on your holiday gift giving list! 

<iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=mancatman-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1604695889&asins=1604695889&linkId=ADX3DPRJP5YWYYTW&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true">
</iframe>

The above is an affiliate link; if you click through and buy something- anything- Amazon will give me a few cents. 

I received my copy free from Net Galley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my review. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bead & Wire Fashion Jewelry, by Jessica Rose. Guild of Master Craftsmen Publications, 2014





This book is a great one for learning the basics of wire working. It has step by step photographs of each process, making learning the bends and turns easy. The author shows how to make and use the basic findings: jump rings, head pins, wrapped tops on large beads, clasps, earwires, loops, simple charms, and how to crimp. Then she has eighteen projects: bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and rings- rings aren’t something you find in very many jewelry making books.

While the book doesn’t go into fancier things like making a jig and creating extensively wrapped pieces, it can be the basis for a solid foundation on wire working. You can’t do the fancy stuff without mastering the basics. And being able to make your own findings can save you a lot of money when you’re making jewelry!