“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Year-Round Gardening” really isn’t just for complete idiots or even pretenders. Delilah Smittle and Sheri Ann Richerson have nondummy gardening credentials. They’ve crafted a book that speaks our language. I’m suggesting it for anybody who needs solid gardening advice, although I wish they’d change the title.
The world is full of dummies and idiots, at least in publishers’ minds. They keep churning out books with those pithy compliments in the titles.
“For Dummies” and “Idiot’s Guide” now are a book genre, eclipsing their nearest relative, the less demeaning “How To” and “DIY.” It’s a sign of the times. There are about 65 of these epics, with more arriving daily.
Everything in media, especially our reading material, is in our face. The titles scream, the breakout boxes summarize things for those too busy to read. Writers know they are competing with a few zillion Web sites and cable channels.
Latest here spares the “Dummies” but adds the “Idiots.” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Year-Round Gardening” really isn’t just for complete idiots or even pretenders. That’s marketing.
Delilah Smittle and Sheri Ann Richerson have nondummy gardening credentials. They’ve crafted a book that speaks our language. I’m suggesting it for anybody who needs solid gardening advice, although I wish they’d change the title.
Gardening books are arriving by the dozens. March is the big month for them, as their audience is busy fantasizing about the coming season. The category is jammed with very narrow books on creating a meadow or organic gardening, fine color photos, $39.95.
One is tempted to note that this new book just adds to the noise, until you crack it. This is very clear advice offering sensible options not requiring a tractor or corn planter. It is 317 info-packed pages, and it costs only 20 bucks, paperbound, less at the discount stores.
For those in a rush to get back to Facebook, the summary sections on “The Least You Need to Know” are handy. I started with these and then read backward into the chapters. That’s because I’m an idiot, and they have my number.
The book’s real worth is in its title. “Year-round gardening” means not having to quit in October. The authors extend the season in worth-repeating ways — winter covers, grow lights, cold frames, kitchen gardens, backyard greenhouses, root cellars and more. No more do-less winter weekends.
I passed it on to a friend, a fantastic gardener for 40 years. He found new things, but he said the book’s main quality is its “inspiration.”
“It cuts through all the urban legends and the advice that sounds good except it doesn’t work. Do I have to give this back?” says John Donoho. Yes.
I’ve used compost tea for years but mix it in milk jugs. The authors suggest using a bucket and allowing it to air out overnight. This jump-starts the good little bacteria.
Don’t store corn and bean seeds in tight jars. They need air. Use paper envelopes.
And then there are the charts of vegetable and lower plants with when and how to grow them. You’ll get your $20 worth here.
This is so simple, an idiot could do it, and that’s the point.
“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Year-Round Gardening” by Delilah Smittle and Sheri Ann Richerson, Alpha Idiot’s Guides, 2010, $19.95 list, $13.57 on amazon.com, $9.99 Kindle e-book.
Jim HIllibish writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at email@example.com.