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Have questions? Turn to books

April 30, 2009
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaegher

Mom, how do you know so much? It's a question that both I and my husband are asked probably once a week.

We tell them that we read and we read a lot. Because of this, the library is where it is at in our opinion.

The ladies who work at the library certainly are some of the most helpful people in Marshall that you can find. If you need help finding a book, they are always right there to help you out as best as they can. If I need a book, they are quick to help me find it, generally helping to solve someone else's garden problem.

There are so many problems that I contend with in my garden that I can get the answers from a book or magazine. Yes, at times, the Web is also a great place to look but it can be overwhelming, and you might find this surprising - there are many people out there who don't either have the time to look things up on the Web or when you do, you are often overwhelmed with information. It sometimes does not apply to our area either.

At the moment, my favorite author is Amy Stewart. If you have any curiosity of what goes on behind the scenes of the cut flower industry, her book called Flower Confidential is very good.

It has a lot of details in it that helps if you have just a little bit of knowledge of botany. She has several books out there and each are very interesting to me.

Another author who is a favorite of mine is Michael Pollan who has written a book called Botany of Desire. This book has been around for a while and is great about discussing the history of tulips, potatoes and the like. It, too, is an informative book.

There are also a whole host of other great books out there that can help us with our gardens, whether it be in designing them or helping us to figure out a trouble spot in the garden.

Of course, it is also always great to have someone else to talk to when there is a bigger problem such as an insect that is on runaway mode in our green beans. There is another book that has grown in reputation. I have one of the first books that Rodale's published on Organic gardening and now they are out with a new version of the same book. I believe that our local libraries can get this for you, if you are willing to wait.

The book that I purchased has been used and reused again and again. It is rather tattered around the edges and at the time, I thought it a tad expensive. I have really been able to get good mileage out of it and it has been well worth the money.

There are many other great books out there that might be worth checking out for your own library or at the library.

They are: Great Plant combos; Containers made easy; 50 high-impact low care garden plants; Big Ideas for small gardens; Welby Smith's Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota; Lynn Steiner's Landscaping with Native Plants; Viburnums by Michael Dirr; Botony in a Day; Herbal Field to Plant Families of North America; Great Garden Companions, A companion-planting System by Sally Jean Cunningham; The Backyard Berry Book by Stella Otto; Barbara Damrosch's The Garden Primer; and Nancy Ondra's Grasses-Versatile Partners for Uncommon Garden Design.

These books should help tide you over until we can begin to really garden in earnest this spring.

For more information on gardening, you can email me at



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