For a variety of pandemic-related reasons—failing supply chains, self-imposed lockdowns, and, in many cases, reduced incomes—increasing numbers of Americans have started growing their own produce. At the same time, renewed interest in the natural world has ushered in a wave of enthusiasm for protecting the planet. New titles show that gardens can sustain humans, animals, and ecosystems all at once.
Invertebrate conservation organization Xerces Society offers home gardeners guidance in nurturing the familiar orange-and-black pollinators: choosing pesticide-free nurseries; sourcing milkweed, the insects’ primary forage plant; timing tasty blooms to match monarchs’ migration calendar; and more. “These eye-opening tips,” PW’s review said, “will appeal to both seasoned conservationists and those new to the cause.”
The Ecological Gardener
The author, former head gardener at Kilver Court Gardens in the U.K., assists readers in reconsidering the way they garden—from the ground up. By following earth-supporting practices, such as boosting essential soil microorganisms and choosing biodiversity-building native plantings, readers can, Rees-Warren writes, “help mitigate our ecological crisis.”
Confirmed black thumbs and timid would-be plantsmiths receive emotional support and environmentally friendly guidance in keeping flora alive, without investing a small fortune in supplies. VanZile, a Master Gardener in Florida who writes for outlets including the Spruce, offers creative, low-cost ideas (using toilet paper tubes as seed-starting containers) and advice (how to train and support vines) aimed at sparking enthusiasm and building confidence.
Grow GreenPart practicum, part mindfulness guide, this title seeks to add intentionality to a horticulturist’s essential skill set. Chillingsworth, author of 2019’s Live Green and 2020’s Clean Green, dispenses advice and suggests projects to help readers conserve water, understand their soil, and incorporate mindful gardening habits “so they become part of our lives,” she writes.
How to Garden the Low Carbon Way
The author of 2017’s Growing Self-Sufficiency turns her attention to combatting climate change via the home garden. Suggested sustainable practices include making compost, which reduces greenhouse gases generated by food scraps otherwise sent to landfills; planting hedges to filter out car emissions; and building bioswales, or channels to collect and filter rainwater.
How to Grow Your Own Food
In five chapters, Judd, a Master Gardner in Arizona who has contributed to Better Homes and Gardens, gives instruction on generalities like choosing soil and picking the best location for crops, and the specifics of growing various herbs, fruits, and vegetables—50 in all—both inside and outdoors.
Micro Food Gardening
Aspiring gardeners constricted by tiny spaces are the target readership for this project-based handbook focused on mini produce. Photos depict clever solutions—an edible side table, strawberries grown on a cake stand, microgreens nesting in a bicycle basket—for turning nearly any space into one that produces sustenance.
Planting for Wildlife
In a richly illustrated compendium on “what wildlife wants” (the title of one section of the book), British horticulturist Moore offers tips on how to “reconnect with the natural world on your own doorstep,” according to the publisher. Simple projects are meant to create sanctuary for invertebrates, birds, and small mammals even in the heart of a busy city.
The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook
No vegetable gardener escapes attacks from unwanted visitors, whether beetle, slug, or mite. Anticipating the onslaught, Mulvihill, a Master Gardener and longtime columnist for the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., introduces common species of tiny food assassins, then explains the ways they can be dispatched without harming the ecosystem, including by adopting best organic practices before the insects have a chance to invade.