Plant Science for Gardeners

How Plants WorkNew gardening books seem to pop up as regularly as springtime dandelions. Most simply rehash what has been said before—perhaps with a new twist or better photos. But How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do (Science for Gardeners) isn’t your typical treatise on how to grow what. Instead, the author, Linda Chalker-Scott, explains the “why” behind the “how.”

An extension urban horticulturist and associate professor at Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University, Chalker-Scott knows what she’s talking about. This is her third book on horticulture, but there is a lot more. She’s written a series of articles on “Horticultural Myths” that I strongly urge you to read. Then, learn more at “The Informed Gardener,” a series of podcasts, or the informative Garden Professors website. She’s also a driving force behind the Gardening Professors Facebook blog (an extremely helpful research-based Q&A site).

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Gardening Advice You Can Trust

Growing one’s own food is back in vogue. Community gardens are springing up in cities, suburbanites are trading lawns for lettuce, and even the White House is cultivating everything from arugula to heirloom tomatoes.

If you’ve never grown vegetables before, the task may seem daunting, but it really isn’t that hard. For one thing, there’s plenty of advice available. However, not every suggestion deserves a place in your yard; some sources are more reliable than others. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of plain hogwash being circulated as garden advice.

If you are planning on growing vegetables—or fruit, or any kind of garden, really—I highly recommend you do some research before beginning. It’s a good idea to look for local sources of information, as growing conditions vary so much from place to place. Generalized gardening books and magazines are helpful, but most tend to be slanted toward the eastern part of the country. Growing anything in Colorado is a much different challenge.

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