The Bookworm

‘How To Cheat At Gardening And Yard Work’, by Jeff Bredenberg


One week’s worth of vacation. All year long, you accumulate hours at work just so you can take a leisurely week off to do what you want. Sure, you have a to-do list for your vacation, but here’s what’s on it: travel, relax, shop. Hammock, here you come.
So why do you throw away 40 hours of potential vacation each summer? The average homeowner spends 40-plus hours a year caring for the lawn. Add in the hours spent on a garden, and you’ve thrown in the dirt more than a vacation’s-worth of time.
But making your home look good and growing some fresh food is important, right? Pick up a copy of “How to Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work” by Jeff Bredenberg and make your yard and garden work for you, instead of the other way around.
Although cheating at poker is not cool, cheating at gardening and yard maintenance is easy and perfectly acceptable. By “cheating,” Bredenberg says he means cutting corners and keeping things fun.
Since you can’t grow anything without it, let’s start with POTS. That stands for Priority One: The Soil. Before you even think of putting seed in the ground, you need to stop treating your soil like, uh, dirt and prepare it for planting. That doesn’t mean tilling; in fact, gardening experts say you shouldn’t till. Instead, plan early and use old newspapers and mulch to make tilling unnecessary. If you did your homework, you should have some compost ready, too.
Save your back on planting day by utilizing a few things you might have lying around the garage. As for the lawn, Bredenberg asks: When was the last time a fancy magazine was planning to use your home for a photo spread? Never? Then why obsess? If it’s green and it’s not hurting anything, let it grow and mow.
Consider installing automatic sprinklers. Plan your project. Think small. Buy only the plants you need. Look into gardening with a raised bed and, if you decide to go that route, be sure to water often. Recycle. Be a gardening renegade.
Thinking the only planting you want to do this year is your fanny in a hammock? Before you sink in, take a look at this book. “How to Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work” makes planting, mowing and cultivating sound like artsy fun.
By consulting dozens of horticulturists, gardeners and other yard-and-garden experts, Bredenberg pulled together hundreds of useful tips to make gardening easier and lawn work not work. Some tips are old news (composting), but many are fresh and unique, like planting clover between vegetable rows for a soft, pleasant pathway that will benefit your soil. The ideas are easy for a neophyte gardener to tackle, yet fun for anyone who was born wielding a spade.
Throw down the gloves, grab this book, and let your life go to seed. “How to Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work” is a book you can dig.

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