Welcome to the Jungle

There is no doubt about it. Spring is here. So, is the glass half empty or half full? If full, you might see this time as a period of wonderful regeneration with the earth awakening from its slumber and bursting into life. If empty, you might cast your gaze at all that bursting life and see a tide of noxious weeds attempting to drown all that is desirable. Whichever position you take, a certain fact remains: weeds exist and must be dealt with. Luckily, the library has a wide variety of materials to help you in your dealings with these undesirables.

gardeningPerhaps it isn’t surprising, but books whose sole topic is the art of weeding are few and far between. Don’t despair, however. Contained within the many books we have on gardening, are myriad chapters on weeding. Interestingly, they tend to shy away from the term ‘weeding’ and instead go for the more broad ‘garden maintenance.’ A good example is Gardening: The Complete Guide by Miranda Smith where you will find weeding information in the chapter titled ‘Maintaining Your Garden.’ There is a lot of good, practical information in this chapter and, as a library worker, I especially appreciate the author’s knowledge is power approach to weeding:

You’ve no doubt heard the cliché about weeds being nothing more than plants ‘out of place.’ But no matter what your relationship to the weeds in your garden, you’ll be able to control and, believe it or not, use them better if you understand them.

weedingwithoutchemicalsIn addition to the more general gardening books, we have an excellent weed-specific title that should be of service. Weeding Without Chemicals by Bob Flowerdew is a handy little tome that points out the many ways you can keep weeds at bay without resorting to harsh chemicals. Don’t think this is a weak-willed approach to weeding however. Some of the techniques, my favorite being open flame, are pretty hardcore. The author is also an advocate of what he terms ‘weed exclusion’ but which I’ve always thought of as ‘find a dog who’ll eat a dog.’ Heather, which is so dense that it essentially smothers anything underneath it, is an ideal candidate. In fact, my yard could easily become all heather one day.

waroftheworldsLet’s face it, once you are suited up and ready to weed, the act itself isn’t the most exciting of activities. Sure there is a certain primal satisfaction when you yank out the final tendril, you hope, of horsetail, but the thrill tends to fade with time. I find distraction is necessary and turn to audiobooks to help me. We have a large selection of audiobooks in both CD and downloadable format from which to choose. Recently, I’ve found that radio programs provide the perfect balance between distraction and the limited concentration necessary to yank out the weeds. The library has great collections of radio programs to try out, including classics like Dragnet and the Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds, as well as programs produced by the BBC and NPR.

feastofweedsFinally your weeding shift is over and you have a large pile of the creatures at your feet. You could compost them, but a new trend is emerging that offers a surprising alternative: dining on their interloping bodies. If you choose this option, The Front Yard Forager: Identifying, Collecting and Cooking the 30 Most Common Urban Weeds by Melany Vorass Herrera will show you how. In addition to having many recipes this book is a concise and detailed field guide that helps you select your victims appropriately. If you need some more ideas, definitely check out A Feast of Weeds by Lugi Ballerini which gives a definite Italian and literary slant to the concept with recipes for Nettle Risotto and Spaghetti with Prickly Pear and Yogurt.

In the grand scheme of things, it is probably true that the weeds, and nature herself, will win out in the end. Armed with information from the library, however, we can go down swinging.

Spring Gardening (Well Weeding Actually…)

With our good weather lately, lots of us are outside and many are gardening. At my house you could just call it weeding because I think we have more weeds than plants. For all the gardeners who are also busy weeding, and maybe planting vegetables, here are two books that look at gardening in different ways.

paradiselotIn Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier, two plant geeks have a lifelong dream of designing and growing permaculture gardens with plants that provide food. Permaculture promotes sustainable, long-term agricultural systems. These gardens substitute perennials for annuals so you don’t need to replant each year, or ever, if you’ve planned it right. Ideally, the garden forms its own ecosystem.

Unfortunately, most people have permaculture gardens in the tropics, so the plants that are known to grow well and reseed themselves year after year are only suited for warmer climates. The author and his friend live in Massachusetts, where it gets below freezing over the winter, so tropical plants won’t work. They have always lived in rented places, so these become their first experimental gardens. Finally, they buy a duplex that sits on 1/10 of an acre, which adds another wrinkle to the problem in that 1/10 of an acre isn’t much land to grow a food garden on. The lot is also overgrown with weeds, and the soil underneath is better suited for a parking lot than a garden.

The book details their work over the course of several years of planning and planting their garden. Their garden eventually provides a lot of their food, including bananas, persimmons, grapes, pears, kiwi, pawpaws, and much more. For a place that gets below freezing in the winter, they’re surprised to find that they can grow tropical fruit. Take that, Florida! Their garden becomes a classroom for others interested in making their own permaculture gardens. This book was inspiring both for seeing the amazing variety of plants they could grow and for the dream of not having to weed much because the plants you want crowd out the weeds.

harvestHarvest: An Adventure into the Heart of America’s Family Farms by Richard Horan follows a man who decides to participate in the harvests of a dozen different crops on small, family-run farms (and then write a book about it). He goes coast to coast and lives in the farmers’ homes while working in the fields with them. He finds similarities among the farms and the farmers, even though they differ in many ways.

Some of the farmers have chosen their crops for historical or heirloom value, some chose them because they like growing them, and some seemed to have just happened upon this lifestyle and found that it suited them. Obviously, these are all people who care deeply about the land and its health and ecology, yet most of them are not from generations of farmers.

Surprisingly, when you consider the premium we pay for organic food (those organic bananas better taste organic), most of these farmers have partners or spouses who need to work at other jobs in order to make a living wage. The work is extremely hard and Horan recalls his youth when he was able to do this kind of physical labor that is now so wearing on him. He also gives us some background on the new growth of family farms and compares their practices to commercial agriculture. This sounds clichéd, but Horan re-discovers his soul and purpose and a new optimism by working on these farms.

Not many of us get to do what we love. So, get out there in your garden and put your hands in the dirt. Get dirty. Get downright filthy. Eat healthy food and get enough fruits and vegetables (because they just might keep you from turning into a zombie).

Kathy

Your Library: Your Source for What’s Fresh, Local and in Season!

I was able to listen to an interview with Debra Prinzing on NPR on my way to work one day. It was so fascinating that I had to sit in my car until the bitter end. Prinzing, a Seattle and Los Angeles based garden writer, introduced me to the concept of ‘slow flowers’ that day. We’re all familiar with the idea of ‘slow food': food that is local, seasonal, and sustainable. This is an accepted and desirable concept. Well, transfer that idea to flowers and you’ve got ‘slow flowers': fresh, local and sustainable.

Did you know that eighty percent of flowers sold in the United States are imported?  They are flown into Miami or New York (by then five days picked), trucked to Seattle (add more days) and sold in cellophane at the local grocery store. Even if the flowers are labelled eco-something, they still need to be drenched in fumigants to prevent unwanted bugs from entering our country. These ‘factory flowers’ are scentless and grown a continent or two away.

indexWhile it’s nice to support third world countries, it’s even better to support local farmers. And your blossoms will be almost a week fresher. Prinzing champions this notion of slow flowers in her book The 50 Mile Bouquet.  In it, she introduces us to a variety of sustainable flower farmers and their tips on cut flowers. You learn things like how to incorporate succulents into your mixed bouquet, various ingredients for floral arrangements, and growing or gathering your own flowers.

indexPrinzing’s newest book continues with this theme of slow flowers and thus its title, Slow Flowers. She takes us through the seasons to create 52 vibrant bouquets from locally available flowers. Each week includes a recipe with listed ingredients for each beautiful arrangement. She challenged herself to create a bouquet-a-week with materials from her own garden or her region. It’s a wonderful concept, one that she is presenting in her blog. She is currently on week nineteen of floral arrangements. Check it out at debraprinzing.com. The arrangements are beautiful! I’ve included one of her weekly bouquets below.

A “Slow Flower” arrangement is seen in this photo. Credit Debra Prinzing.

20130514113300168_0001If you don’t have a picking garden at home, why don’t you come on down to the library and pick up your copy of the 2013 Farm Guide: Your Source for What’s Fresh, Local, and in Season. This is your free guide to local farmer’s markets and twenty-two Snohomish county farms. It includes hours of operation, addresses, and all sorts of other good info. Why trek down to the Pike Place Market to purchase flowers grown in Snohomish? It makes more sense to buy them at Everett’s Farmer’s Market or the farm itself out in Snohomish. There you will literally “Meet the Producer”.

If you’d like to listen to that NPR interview with Prinzing, you can here. It will inspire you to either grow your own flowers or visit the local farms and farmers markets to buy local blooms. See you down on the farm!

Leslie

It’s Time to Garden! (Or at Least Read About it Until the Rain Stops)

My gardening life is cyclical…non-existent in the winter, heavy-duty in Spring and Summer and occasional in the Fall.

I am spending all of my free time these days out in the yard, but let’s face it- it’s been pretty damp lately. The reasonable alternative is to check out all of the gorgeous new gardening books from the library. Here’s a quick review of some of the more popular and enticing new ones, along with some really beautiful and excellent older titles. Hope you enjoy them!

All the Garden’s a Stage: Choosing the Best Performing Plants for a Sustainable Garden by Jane C. Gates.

In this book allthegarden'syou’ll learn how to choose the right plants for growing your best garden. The author encourages you to think of gardening as staging a theatrical production, with tips for lighting, temperature, drainage, and developing a sustainable landscape. The text is entertaining, with easy-to-remember facts and suggestions for putting on the best garden show ever.

Beautiful Edible Garden by Steffani Bittnerbeautiful

I am in line with a hold for this title so all I can report is what our catalog summarizes:  “A stylish, beautifully photographed guide to artfully incorporate organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs into an attractive modern garden design.”   Sounds perfect as I’m always up for edibles.

The Drunken Botanist: Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart

indexThis book was all the rage at the 2013 Seattle Flower and Garden Show. The author gave a hilarious talk, so I’m sure that her book is just as funny. Why not grow what you drink in addition to what you eat?

Grow Vegetables in Pots edited by Emma Callery.index

Every rabid gardener is always looking for new soil to till and it’s so much easier to buy a new pot, fill it with soil, and plant away, than to take up sod, isn’t it? This is from DK publishing so it has many gorgeous photos in addition to fantastic container ideas.

indexThe Layered Garden by David L. Culp

Loads of beautiful photographs of the Brandywine Cottage garden illustrate design lessons for you to create a succession of plant combinations which will bloom from earliest spring until latest winter. A dreamy book!

Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty by Graham Rice

indexI love the layout of this book: Clear and simple information on one side with a nice photo on the other side. This book profiles annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, vines and grasses that would all be hard-working additions to your garden. Be sure to have pen and paper in hand as you read so you can create a plant shopping list.

Western Garden Book: The Twenty Minute Gardener:  Projects, Plants and Designs for Quick and Easy Gardening edited by Kathleen Norris

indexThis book is as easy to use as it is inspiring, whether you grow plants on a balcony, patio, or huge estate. This is a compilation of articles from Sunset Magazine. I’m a twenty-minute gardener every morning before work as I take our dog out into the yard for slug hunts and other business. With the help of this book, you too can be a twenty-minute gardener.

Why Grow That When You Can Grow This: 255 Extraordinary Alternatives to Everyday Problem Plants by Andrew Keys

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Do your Hybrid Tea roses have black spot? Try ‘Knock Out’ or ‘The Fairy’ roses. Are your peonies fussy? Try hellebores.  This book offers specific substitutes for troublesome plants.  Try it. You’ll like it!

And now for a few awesome, albeit older, book titles which still grace our library shelves:

index1000 Garden Ideas by Stafford Cliff is quite the visual sourcebook. It’s like Pinterest in print. If you like pictures, this is the gardening book for you as that’s all it is: Photos. There’s no text (oh, okay, there’s a little if you search for it). This book is definitely for the visual gardener.

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Better Homes and Gardens Beds and Borders includes plans for more than ninety plant-by-number gardens you can grow yourself. This book is packed with loads of great ideas.

indexContainer Gardening: 250 Design Ideas & Step-by-Step Techniques from the editors of Fine Gardening is a fantastic book. There are lots of great color photographs along with ideas and step-by-step instructions for creating beautiful container gardens. Love it!

indexCAEPO15NGarden Gallery: The Plants, Art, and Hardscape of Little and Lewis by George Little & David Lewis is a photographic tour of the private Puget Sound garden of internationally famous artists and plants men Little and Lewis. They share their personal wisdom for what informs and inspires their wild fantasia of plants, hardscape, and art.

Shocking Beauty and The Jewel Box Garden by Thomas Hobbs

indexindexCAED1KAU

These books from Vancouver B C’s most extravagant gardener are simply gorgeous. They are good for creative ideas, in particular if you like to make the odd ‘shocking garden statement’ yourself. Just leafing through the artful photography will inspire you to try something a little different. Be forewarned, this book will have you ripping out all yellow & red tulips combinations as clichés just won’t cut it for you anymore.

Hey! I think that the sun’s out. See you in the garden!

Leslie

Fail Magnificently

Here we are, firmly wedged into the month of January. The magical glow of New Year’s Eve and memories of our ambitious resolutions have already started to fade. While some just might make this the year that they actually stick to their three-times-a-week gym pledges, others may be looking for a way to gracefully bow out of their publicly-announced best intentions. Thankfully, the Everett Public Library is here not only to support us in our triumphs, but also to help us get through our moments of weakness. So, if you want to kill your resolutions softly by making the best of your surrender, I have a list of books for you.

Here are my recommendations for failing magnificently at some of the more common New Year’s resolutions.

The Butchers Guide to Well-Raised Meat

Eat Healthier and Lose Weight

This is the granddaddy of them all. Who hasn’t sworn, after a long night of New Year’s Eve snacking, that it was time to get the potbelly situation under control? Perhaps you’ve spent the last couple weeks faithfully logging calories and exercise on your new My Fitness Pal app, but today you find yourself caring less than usual. Before you hop in the car after work, blow by the YMCA, and hit the drive through, consider picking up one of the following books to help you break your resolution with a bit more class.

The Pastry Chef’s Apprentice, by Mitch Stamm, provides a really accessible introduction to creating delicious pastries in your home kitchen. Stamm includes a lot of what I like to call ‘action shots’ of what dishes should look like during crucial stages of each recipe. If you’re as lousy of a baker as I am, you know how valuable it is to actually see what the recipe means when it tells you to mix the dough to a certain consistency.

If you prefer savory over sweet, Warren R. Anderson’s Mastering the Craft of Making Sausage may be up your alley. The first half of this book is a richly-illustrated discussion of different methods of making and smoking sausages; the second is a collection of great recipes to try your hand at.

Other sweet and savory honorable mentions to consider:
Chocolate, from Practical Cookery
The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat, by Joshua and Jessica Applestone

Who knows? Perhaps making your own guilty pleasures from scratch might burn some calories in the process and ensure that you’re using healthier ingredients.

The Home Winemaker's CompanionDrink Less

This one generally goes the way of weight loss pledges, so in order to help you fail in the same spirit, I suggest the alternative of taking up home brewing, wine making,or distilling. You may find that in the end you’ll opt for quality over quantity because you’ll come to prefer the fruits of your own labor to a couple of Sessions. For the beer drinkers, I recommend checking out The Complete Joy of Home Brewing and The Brewers Apprentice. If wine is more your thing, you can try The Home Winemaker’s Companion. For those of you who secretly harbor dreams of bootlegging and rum-running, you can try your hand at hooch with Making Pure Corn Whiskey. Please remember to brew, stomp, and moonshine responsibly.

Fly SoloSpend More Quality Time with the Kids

Dads of the world, my apologies, because it looks like the fun books for breaking this resolution are more geared towards the ladies. A quick stroll through our travel books turned up these gems:

Fly Solo: the 50 Best Places on Earth for a Girl to Travel Alone, by Teresa Rodriguez Williamson
Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide, by Marybeth Bond
Solo Traveler: Tales and Tips for Great Trips, by Lea Lane

Get Rid of that Old Junk in the Garage

But isn’t one man’s trash another man’s treasure? Are you really going to let that other man steal your carefully horded booty? Absolutely not! American Junk and This Old House Salvage-Style Projects may give you the inspiration you need to turn mom’s odd obsession with fancy antique doorknobs into a lucrative business making pretty coat racks.

Driveways, Paths and Patios

Keep the Lawn and Garden Tidy

Technically my recommendations here won’t break this resolution, but they will help you fulfill it a way that you might not have intended. It may be that you love a serene outdoor environment but the closest you’ve ever come to having a green thumb was the result of a misguided attempt to paint the Silvertips logo on your garage door. If that’s the case, you can design your outdoor space to look tidy while being relatively maintenance-free by exploring other options. Walks, Walls & Patio Floors and Driveways, Paths and Patios will tell you all you need to know about designing an attractive, zero-gardening landscape. If you can’t bear the thought of having a yard that isn’t lovely and green, consider going au naturel with the help of Beautiful No-Mow Yards, by Evelyn J. Hadden. This approach will require you to put in a fair amount of gardening effort at the beginning, but after a while you should have easy sailing.

Swear Less

If you find that your cuss jar is rapidly filling once again, it might be time to let go and embrace the fact that you have a potty mouth and you find swearing amusing. To help you along the way to self-acceptance, I recommend a couple foul-mouthed titles that are designed to make you laugh. The F**king Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel tells the sometimes true, sometimes fanciful, and completely inappropriate story of the 2011 mayoral election in Chicago. If they ever made an audio book out of this title, you wouldn’t want to listen to it with the kids around. Speaking of audio books – my other recommendation, Go the F**k to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortes, was just narrated by Samuel L. Jackson (the video is on YouTube – I recommend listening with earphones). I’m also happy to report that we carry ¡Duérmete, carajo!the Spanish-language adaptation of this recent best seller.

Machida Karate-Do

Manage Stress Better

Or just take up a contact sport to help let out your frustrations in a healthy way. I have never been very good at managing the different areas of life that cause me stress, so instead once or twice a week I go play ice hockey. Problem solved. So, if you need to get out some pent-up aggression, but you don’t have the budget to pick up an expensive team sport, consider some alternatives. May I suggest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Taekwondo, or Mixed Martial Arts?

Step Away from the Internet

If you’re reading this post, you’ve already failed at this resolution. That’s all right, you can still learn to spend your time online doing something more productive. We have many great books on creating and marketing an online business, using social media to make money, and using the internet to help you find a better job. Here are just a handful of titles that can get you started:

Social Networking for Career Success, by Miriam Salpeter
Likeable Social Media, by Dave Kerpen
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Crowdsourcing, by Aliza Sherman
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing, by Jennifer Abernathy

For those of you who are still sticking to you goals I salute you! Let me take this opportunity to remind you that the library also has books to assist you in leaving the rest of us in your dust. For my fellow magnificent failures out there, happy 2013, and have fun making lemonade out of your lemons.

Lisa

Resolutions

Like most Americans, I set a few New Year’s Resolutions each year. Sometimes I achieve them. Sometimes I fail miserably.

book cover2010 was a successful year for me. I cooked a lot more with help from the library’s cookbook collection. In the fall I read all 800+ pages of Anna Karenina, which I have vowed to read every year for several years. Much to my surprise, I do enjoy the occasional meaty Russian novel. And with that I resolve to read Doctor Zhivago in 2011. (Now that I’ve said it, there’s no going back is there?)

book coverOn a more practical level, I also resolve to whip my pathetic lawn into shape this year. Organic Lawn Care Manual has thus worked its way onto my reading list.

Whether you resolve to read more short stories, learn American Sign Language, exercise more, set up a personal budget, become a magician or teach your old dog new tricks, the library is here to help. (Incidentally, these are some of the things I’ve resolved to do in the past.)

Happy New Year!
Mindy

At Home: Crafts, Gardens & Cookbooks (2010 Gift Guide)

The staff of the Everett Public Library has put together a fabulous gift guide of books and music in a variety of subjects. You’re sure to find something to please every reader on your list. Why not give yourself a gift and check one out today?

Click here to read or print the complete list. Read on for our guide to Crafts, Gardening & Cookbooks.

book covers

Toe-up Socks for Every Body by Wendy D. Johnson
For the knitter in your life, novice or expert. Johnson provides detailed instructions for knitting toe-up socks and 21 delightful patterns, with something for all ages. Maybe the recipient will knit you a pair of socks!

 Karakuri: How to Make Mechanical Paper Models That Move by Keisuke Saka
Saka’s fun mechanical paper creations will be an inspiration for anyone who enjoys crafts. It’s a better gift book than library book because it comes complete with color patterns. Now, should I make the flying fish or the space traveler bicycle?

 Kid Made Modern by Todd Oldham
This fresh and modern craft book is for the entire family and might also appeal to adults without kids. Each chapter features projects inspired by some of the best-known designers of the mid-20th century. Most of the items are both functional and beautiful, designed to enhance your home décor or wardrobe.

 From Art to Landscape: Unleashing Creativity in Garden Design by W. Gary Smith
Lovely and inspiring, Smith’s book will thrill both novice and experienced garden designers. Exploring various artistic means and processes used in drawings, paintings, sculpture and dance and how they can translate to landscape design, Smith provides encouraging insight as well as practical advice for the reader.

Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy
First published in 1982, this newly revised edition highlights the beauty and functionality of landscaping your yard entirely with edible plants. Wonderfully illustrated, Creasy’s book is one of the season’s best “how to” books for planning, maintaining and harvesting a self-sufficient garden.

book covers

From Seed to Skillet: a Guide to Growing, Tending, Harvesting, and Cooking Up Fresh, Healthy Food to Share with People you Love by Jimmy Williams and Susan Heeger
Taking you from planting to preparing your own healthy, home-grown meals, Williams learned to garden from his Gullah grandmother. Filled with pragmatic ideas, beautiful illustrations and inspiring recipes, this book is sure to enchant both gardeners and locavore enthusiasts.

 The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser
This is a superb compendium of timeless recipes published in the Times since the 1850s. Hesser’s chronologically arranged collection of over 1600 tested and updated recipes provides both a narrative of American culinary history and a valuable cookbook of old standards and new trends. Sure to delight the cooks in your life.

 Sarabeth’s Bakery: from My Hands to Yours by Sarabeth Levine and Rick Rodgers
Filled with decadent treats, Levine’s beautifulbook will inspire beginning and experienced cooks alike. Clear instructions, often accompanied by step-by-step photos, make even complicated baking creations approachable. A tremendous gift book for the baker in your life, Levine’s book is both lovely and practical.

 Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
More a family cookbook inspired by contemporary French cooking rather than a traditional French cooking book, Greenspan’s collection is overall neither labor-intensive nor requires hard-to-attain ingredients. It is a gorgeous book seemingly written by a good friend who loves food preparation and sharing her knowledge with you.

Fannie’s Last Supper: Re-creating One Amazing Meal from Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Cookbook by Christopher Kimball
Kimball researched and planned a dinnerfor over two years, ultimately hosting a foodie’s 12-course dream dinner party, complete with Victorian dinner settings and an all-star guest list of celebrity chefs and epicures. A companion to a holiday season PBS special, Kimball’s work is  great entertainment for armchair chefs and history buffs.

For more gift book ideas and reading lists, see this page in our Readers’ Corner.