Tag Archives: Homesteader’s Library

Homesteader’s library: Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham

Grow Fruit

Raise your hand if you feel confident about pruning your fruit trees.

I absolutely hate it.  I suppose I just lack the confidence to start lopping things off.  I read all about the benefits of pruning, but when I go outside with my clippers, the laterals look like the sub-laterals, which I already can’t tell apart from the sideshoots.

I have a book to help me though.  Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham offers detailed planting and pruning for everything from apples to brambles to kiwis.  I like the clear diagrams of where to cut each of the first three seasons.  I like the pictorial guide to whatever might be ailing this kind of plant. Small, brown edged holes in leaves?  Those are tarnished plant bugs.  Ribbonlike scars on the skin?  Sawfly maggot.  This helpful reference guide is definitely worth adding to your toolkit.

Homesteader’s Library: Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte

Carrots Love Tomatoes 2

Mesoamerican farmers knew that, if you planted beans with your corn, the corn would grow better. Ancient Chinese planted mosquito fern in their rice paddies. They didn’t know that it fixed nitrogen, but they knew that it shaded the rice and made it more productive. Planting different crops in close proximity for pest control, pollination, and increasing crop productivity is called companion planting.  Carrots Love Tomatoes is your all-purpose reference guide to Companion Planting.

When mapping out my first square foot garden, I spent hours poring over this book. Planting the squash near the corn is ok, as long as you also have beans in there. Keep the tomatoes far away from the kale, but interplant with marigolds and basil. Radishes don’t need their own plots, just scatter seeds near your squashes and melons and allow them to go to seed. Nasturtiums lure cabbage worms away from broccoli. This encyclopedia of companion planting walks you alphabetically through first your vegetable garden and then through your herb garden, detailing how each plant gets along with particular other plants. If you are aiming for an organic garden, this reference is a must have.