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March 8, 2012 Edition

Decoding Gardening Advice

Written by Jeff Gillman
Illustrated by Meleah Maynard

There’s so much information out there – how do you know which bits to follow and which to scoff at? Each chapter of this resource opens with a list of Good, Debatable, and Wrong advice and then takes time to explain the science of why. Are organic fertilizers really the environmentally friendly way to go? Should you really add gravel (or old pieces of pot) to a flower pot before adding soil? How do you encourage strong root growth? And are ladybugs truly effective pest control? This is a handy reference for gardeners to be familiar with.

What’s Wrong with My Vegetable Garden?

Written by David Deardorff
Illustrated by Kathryn Wadsworth

Keep this reference handy, especially if you’re a novice gardener who’s longing for success with veggies. After opening with a photo-identification section on soil, water, temperature, and light problems (along with their solutions), readers will find a section devoted to individual plants. This is so easy to use that no one will be intimidated – simply look up the vegetable you’re growing and you’ll find a two-page simplified feast of information ranging from what conditions it grows best in to problems associated specifically with that plant. The third section contains detailed pest information (along with more photos) for each vegetable group, and the final section lists organic solutions to common problems – some as simple as row covers, others involving rethinking your landscaping. A list of resources, recommended reading, and an index round out this excellent reference.

Best Organizing Solutions

Written by The Family Handyman

This has some innovative solutions, particularly in garages and workshops – take a look at the sawblade storage racks, muffin tin small part holders and several solutions for storing opened tubes of caulk so they are out of the way, easily findable, and don’t dry out. Create storage for your sports and fishing equipment, build roll-out cabinets for kitchen pantry storage, and build portable or wall-mounted bookshelves (complete with sliding bookends). You’ll even find a method for magnetizing any tooth brush and for containing all those plastic grocery bags until needed! Lots of photos, good instructions, and, since this is from The Family Handyman, plenty of funny cautionary tales.

Ridiculously Simple Furniture Projects

Written by Spike Carlsen

Using off-the-shelf lumber, a few tools, and attention to the instructions, it is possible for even relative novices to construct these useful and good-looking projects. Are you in need of a coffee table? Take a look at the bifold-door table. Like the look of ladder shelves but don’t want to spend a lot? Build your own using the instructions here. There are plenty of photos, step-by-step instructions, safety tips, and ideas for customizing your projects to your space and taste.

Terrarium Craft

Written by Amy Bryant Aiello
Illustrated by Kate Baldwin

After you’ve finished your other home projects, put on the final touches with plants. Just flipping through this delightful book, I spotted several jewel-like terrariums that I’d love to create for my home. Ranging from large to small (aquarium to test tube!), these projects utilize both found and purchased containers, a wide range of plants, and appropriate soil mixes. There is a list of resources in the back of the book along with an index that includes plants as well as the project names. Beautiful photos show plants and their decorations showcased in whimsical glass bubbles, cottage-style spare jars, art nouveau bowls, and sleek modern vases.

One Drawing a Day

Written by Veronica Lawlor

Okay, I’m throwing this one in for those who want to make art – this is a how-to be inspired book that will get your creative juices flowing. As we all know, we become good at things when we do them over and over and over. But, in the case of art – do what? Faced with a blank sheet of paper, many of us freeze - this book may be what you need to get over the fear of white and loosen your brain up. I would say this is not for beginners – some of the projects assume knowledge and possession of pastels, oil pastels, watercolors, charcoals, and a variety of pens (there’s a list of supplies needed in the first chapter, along with hints on buying them), but it is possible to use the prompts (involving locations, subjects, and materials) truly as launch pads rather than only instructions.

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