Gardening books good gift ideas

There is nothing like tucking into a garden book, getting inspiration during the gray days of winter. In this season of gift-giving, reflection and looking toward the new year, you may have a gardener in your life who would appreciate a new reference book, or fresh inspiration for a project. Consider these titles as a place to start.

“Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening,” published in 2009, continues the 50-year Rodale tradition of keeping gardeners up-to- date on organic practices. I had the pleasure of contributing to an earlier edition in the 1990s, and these books help to fill the gaps in my own horticultural education. They work as great basic references.

Eliot Coleman has been raising produce for market year-round in Maine for 50 years. When we visited his Four-Season Farm in 2016, we got to see how he does it. His book “Four-Season Harvest,” or any of his other titles, are dynamite for learning how to extend the gardening season.

“Gardening in Deer Country” by Vincent Drzewucki makes a great housewarming gift, but give it before your recipient starts planting. We all know that if deer get hungry enough, they’ll eat just about anything, but the author’s handy lists of shrubs, trees, perennials and others are a good place to start.

“Safe Sex in the Garden” is all about pollination, silly. Thomas Leo Ogren believes that the industry practice of offering “seedless” trees and shrubs has backfired, giving us an overload of pollen by way of the wind-pollinated male plants that have been nursery mainstays for decades. He suggests that, especially if you have folks with allergies in your home, you might avoid planting those seedless yews and honeylocusts. Read it and judge for yourself.

“The Organic Lawn Care Manual” provides a full view of how one can maintain a lawn using organic methods, which would mean fertilizers derived from natural sources (rather than petroleum), and weed control by cultural practices and other methods. If you are dubious, look no further than the turf at Victory Field or the track at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville for examples of organic lawn care. Even if one doesn’t go whole-hog with organic, it’s great to know practices that can help to limit pesticide and fertilizer use.

I am still dreaming over “Sheds: The Do-It-Yourself Guide for Backyard Builders” by David Stiles. If you love gardening and the outdoors, there’s nothing like a functional shed, especially if it includes some space for downtime (think furniture and a built-in grill). These are lovely, and the DIY angle makes them affordable.

While there are certainly more great gardening books than this space can feature, I hope that you have gotten some ideas. If gift-giving isn’t your reason for reading this, please recall that our public libraries are great sources of books that you would prefer to borrow, and our local independent bookstores can find just about anything.

We at Purdue Extension Bartholomew County wish you the best this holiday season, and in the new year.

Kris Medic is Purdue Extension Bartholomew County’s educator for agriculture, natural resources and community development. She can be reached at 812-379-1665 or