Earth Day Is an Opportunity for Each Person to Make One Change to Help Mother Earth

April 22 was Earth Day and around the country attention is being focused on the protection of and respect for the Earth. Three new organic gardening books are out for 2009 to help guide us in improving our gardening habits.

The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening, written by Fern Marshall Bradley and Trevor Cole, is an all in one reference book that could be given as a wedding or housewarming gift. With almost 600-pages, it has a directory of 700 annual, bi-annual, perennial plants, 2500 photographs, and 800 step-by-step how-to illustrations. The focus is on organic gardening with non-toxic fertilizer, disease and pest control solutions.

The book begins with a chapter on planning and ends with taking care of your garden. In between, the chapters include: Lawns, fruits, vegetables, water gardens and bulbs. Iris, peony, daylily, hosta, dahlias, roses, and others, each receive an entire chapter to themselves.

The advice in the book is practical. For example in the planning chapter, the authors advise you to think about how you want the garden to look in the future and start small, gradually implementing your improvement plan.

The 200 pages of charts cover topics ranging from lawn disease to selecting plants for a water garden. There are several types of plant reference pages. For example, the section on shrubs for specific locations lists suitable choices for wet and dry soil, those with interesting winter bark, shrubs for sun, shade, etc. Plus, there is a 50-page chart of shrubs and vines that provides descriptions, uses, light and soil needs, varieties, etc.

Every chapter has illustrated, useful tips. Whether you want to know how to plant, prune, divide, seed, propagate, espalier, or attract birds and butterflies, it is covered.

The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening, by Fern Marshall Bradley and Trevor Cole, Published by Reader's Digest. $35 at and $25 at online booksellers.

Nellie Neal, a radio personality in Mississippi, wrote Organic Gardening Down South. Neal's approach is to help people who want to enjoy their gardens rather than be owned by them.

Starting with the types of soil, Neal covers tools, compost, how to dig a new bed, and container gardening. The explanations are easy to understand. For example, “Roots can be compared to the Push Me Pull You in the tales of Dr. Doolittle. Roots push into soil, but the tiny root hairs that cover them actually pull.”

The chapter called Family Ties explains plant groups and how they grow and the one titled The Woody Trio provides guidance on trees, shrubs and roses. Bugs, berries, bulbs, butterflies, seed starting, pruning, water conservation and a monthly to-do guide fill 138-black-and-white pages.

Organic Gardening Down South by Nellie Neal, available on her website, and $15.95 postage paid through the publisher at

Ann Whitman and Suzanne DeJohn, editors for the National Gardening Association, wrote the new Organic Gardening for Dummies. A 340-page black and white guide to organic gardening basics, Dummies starts with the fundamentals, goes through soils and fertilizers, pest management and disease control.

The pages from 181 to 331 are the planting how-to chapters. Using the Dummies series checklist and target format, the authors give great tips. For example, there is a chart of how many plants you would need to fill a bed that measures 100-square feet. Under “Fertilizing Follies” the authors say most trees will grow perfectly well without any added fertilizer. In a section called “Dung Ho!” they have a chart of the fertilizing capability of various manures.

Organic Gardening for Dummies is a good bet for beginning gardeners. Published by Wiley, 2009. $20 list and $12 online.

Whether you choose rain barrels, compost bins, recycling, reducing chemical use or some other Earth Day action – it all makes a difference if each person does one.

Fiskars Rainbarrel kit includes the drain spout hookups.

What will your one small change be?


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