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Historically, seed companies were generally small, often family-run businesses. Because they were regionally based, they could focus on varieties well-suited to the local environment. A Pacific Northwest company, for example, would specialize in different cultivars than a company based in the Southeast. However, the absorption of these small, independent seed businesses into large multinationals – combined with the advancement of biotechnology, resulting in hybrids and genetically modified seeds – has led to a serious loss of genetic diversity. The public is now at the mercy of the corporations who control the seeds.
In the past few years, gardeners have realized the inherent danger in this situation. A growing movement is striving to preserve and expand our stock of heritage and heirloom varieties through seed saving and sharing opportunities. Seed Libraries is a practical guide to saving seeds through community programs, including:
Whoever controls the seeds controls the food supply. By empowering communities to preserve and protect the genetic diversity of their harvest, Seed Libraries is the first step toward reclaiming our self-reliance … while enhancing food security and ensuring that the future of food is healthy, vibrant, tasty and nutritious.
The concept of silvopasture challenges our notions of both modern agriculture and land use. For centuries, European settlers of North America have engaged in practices that separate the field from the forest, and even the food from the animal. Silvopasture systems integrate trees, animals, and forages in a whole-system approach that offers a number of benefits to the farmer and the environment. Such a system not only offers the promise of ecological regeneration of the land, but also an economical livelihood and even the ability to farm extensively while buffering the effects of a changing climate: increased rainfall, longer droughts, and more intense storm events.
Silvopasture, however, involves more than just allowing animals into the woodlot. It is intentional, steeped in careful observation skills and flexible to the dynamics of such a complex ecology. It requires a farmer who understands grassland ecology, forestry, and animal husbandry. The farmer needn’t be an expert in all of these disciplines, but familiar enough with them to make decisions on a wide variety of time scales. A silvopasture system will inevitably look different from year to year, and careful design coupled with creativity and visioning for the future are all part of the equation.
Ever wonder why some gardens and landscapes look dazzling year after year, while others decline? Or why does a planting look great at one location while the same plant looks skimpy and unattractive nearby? The characteristics of the site determine whether a plant will thrive. Site Assessment for Better Gardens and Landscapes describes how to evaluate site characteristics that are important to plants.
Intended for novice gardeners, experienced gardeners, and landscape professionals, the 81-page spiral-bound book includes 50+ color photos, a glossary, an index, and references and web sites for further information. Through 30+ hands-on activities, soil type, drainage, sunlight, compaction, slopes, minimum and maximum temperatures, wind, existing plants, wildlife and more are evaluated. When you've gotten to know your property using this book, you'll have:
Small-Space Vegetable Gardens explains the basics of growing a bounty of edibles in a minimal amount of space. Andrea Bellamy, author of the award-winning blog Heavy Petal, shares all the knowledge she’s gained from years of gardening small: how to find and assess a space, and how to plan and build a garden. Bellamy also highlights the top 60 edible plants and offers complete information on how to sow, grow and harvest them. This hardworking and enthusiastic guide teaches gardeners how to take advantage of the space they have—whether it’s a balcony, a patio, a plot in a community garden, or even a small yard—to create the food garden of their dreams.
Soil Sisters provides a wealth of invaluable information for fledgling female farming entrepreneurs. The first manual of its kind, this authoritative and comprehensive blueprint presents practical considerations from a woman's perspective, covering everything from business planning to tool use and ergonomics to integrating children and family in farm operations.
Master gardener Barbara Pleasant takes the guesswork and anxiety out of growing food, explaining in simple language exactly how to start, maintain and eventually expand an organic vegetable garden, even in the smallest of spaces. Choose one of 24 no-fail, small-scale garden plans and find out how easy it is to enjoy your own fresh food all season long!
Whatever your gardening challenge, straw bale gardening holds the solution. This new edition of Straw Bale Gardens Complete is the only book you need to get started with the revolutionary gardening method that has taken the world by storm.
Written by Joel Karsten, the originator of straw bale gardening, this exciting update contains detailed, start-to-finish instructions for growing vegetables in straw anywhere, plus many new ideas and projects to help you enjoy your straw bale experience even more.
Taking medicine just got a whole lot sweeter! Honey is well known for its healing properties. When infused with the additional benefits of medicinal herbs and fruits, it becomes a tasty way to turn natural remedies that can taste unpleasant into a treat. Author Dawn Combs makes these traditional herbal honeys (called “electuaries”) and has created her own formulations for addressing a variety of common health ailments.
With Sweet Remedies, readers will learn her methods for making electuaries in their home kitchens, using recipes that range from Ache Ease and Sleep Well to Heartful and Calcium for Kids. You will find instructions for making simple honey infusions and oxymels.
Texas Bug Book is your complete guide for identifying and organically controlling all of the most common Texas insects. Drawing on years of practical experience and research, organic gardening experts Howard Garrett and Malcolm Beck give detailed instructions on how to identify, understand the life cycle of, and control or protect Texas insects, mites, snails, slugs, nematodes and other critters. They also include striking color photos and black-and-white drawings to help you identify each bug. Garrett and Beck highlight the many useful roles that bugs play in nature and offer proven organic remedies for infestations of pest insects.
Compost your old "complete" gardening guide. There's a new way of gardening in Texas that's healthier for people and the environment, more effective at growing vigorous plants and reducing pests, cheaper to maintain, and just more fun. It's Howard Garrett's "The Natural Way" organic gardening program, and it's all here in Texas Gardening the Natural Way.
This book is the first complete, state-of-the-art organic gardening handbook for Texas. Using Garrett's mainstream gardening techniques, this book presents a total gardening program:
This book shows you how to have healthy soil and recommends environmentally safe products and even some homemade remedies to control pests and diseases in your garden. It describes more than 100 food plants and gives specific information on the growth habits, culture, harvest, and storage of each.
Knowing when and how to plant a tree are crucial to its survival. But if you select the wrong tree for your particular area and conditions, the proper planting techniques will not make a difference. Because Texas is a big place with varied climates, soils, and water qualities, a wide variety of trees can be grown there. Howard Garrett, also known as the "Dirt Doctor," explores the wide-ranging possibilities in a book that will prove its value to homeowners, landscape architects, contractors, nurseries, gardeners, and others who want healthy trees.
Texas Trees includes a complete description of native and best-introduced trees and gives details on natural habitats and preferred sites, planting and maintenance, identification information, flowers, fruit and foliage, culture, problems, and propagation. Texas Trees is for all Texas tree lovers, from the Red River to the Gulf Coast, the piney woods to the deserts and mountains.