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Earth Day Reading Project

I admit it – I don’t read enough! (books that is). It’s not that I don’t like reading – I love it, but the fact of the matter is that I very rarely find the time to read a whole book from cover to cover. I’m one of those people that once a book grabs hold of me I can’t put it down until I’ve finished it, so I reserve reading page turners for holidays and long weekends. But it is why I enjoy gardening books so much – I can read bits and pieces that interest me, put the book to one side and then grab hold of it again when I want to learn more about a particular subject.

So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to take part in the Earth Day Reading Project initiated by The Sage Butterfly. When I received my invitation to participate from Donna of Gardens Eye View, my initial enthusiasm was followed by thoughts of “how am I going to read 3 books from cover to cover by the 23rd April AND write something interesting and meaningful about each of these books?”. And “what if I buy three books and none of them actually inspire me?”. I finally settled on two books I already have in my “library” of gardening books and, a slight deviation from the rules, a magazine I read every month.

I chose three South African books / publications. Here they are:

Beginner's Guide to Earthworm FarmingBeginner’s Guide to Earthworm Farming – Simple ideas for a Sustainable World – by Mary Murphy (published by Penguin Press – Non Fiction): I had ideas about starting my own “Earthworm Farm”. So I bought the book. I still haven’t started my Earthworm Farm (my soil is laden with earthworms) but this book inspired many changes in the way I think about the health of our planet. From an attitude of “Its not my problem”, my thinking was radically altered and  I have become environmentally concerned.

I incorporate much of what I’ve learned in this book into my life and the way we run our household (it’s not just about earthworms …) and am still considering the earthworm farm. I have to get over my squeamishness before I can tackle this as a viable project (its not the earthworms that bother me, its the maggots that I believe find their way into earthworm farms). The “hook” that got me to read the book (yes I read it from cover to cover) was this statement: If you are concerned about the health of our planet then turn your attention to what lies under your feet. In the soil below are creatures that are responsible for producing the food we eat. Earthworms have been described by Darwin as the most important species on our planet and by Aristotle as “the intestines of the earth”…

Garden GaurdiansGarden Guardian’s – Guide to environmentally responsible garden care – by Johan Gerber (published by Aardvark Press – Non Fiction): What impresses me the most about this book is the author! A registered professional natural scientist, Johan Gerber worked in the actual harmful pesticide industry before he switched tack and started working with various leading agricultural companies in the development and registration of many of the environmentally-responsible pest solutions now available on the South African market. His philosophy is that pest control need not be at the expense of the health of the environment, or of people and animals.

In a nut-shell, the book is an exploration of the dangers and health implications of using conventional pesticides in the home environment and provides solutions for handling conventional poisons and methods of disposal. This book incorporates the best illustrated guide to pests and diseases that I have seen to date. Even an idiot-newbie gardener like myself can actually identify most pests and diseases using this guide and of course the best part of the book is that Johan gives us solutions and methods for controlling pests and diseases that will not harm our planet! This book has become my “Gardening Bible” and I won’t bring any pesticides into my home or garden that he does not mention and approve of in this book.

The Gardener MagazineThe Gardener – The South African Magazine for everyone who loves gardening – Editor: Tanya Visser: I started buying this magazine occasionally when I bought my house four years ago and when I got serious about my gardening hobby about a year ago I started to buy it regularly. I recently became a subscriber so that I can get it before it hits the news stand because I love this magazine. I have learnt more than you can imagine by absorbing their articles every month.

From becoming water-wise to planting more indigenous plants to companion planting and organic gardening … a lot of what I practise in my home and garden these days, that can be considered environmentally friendly, comes from this magazine. Most of all the magazine inspired me to try my hand a growing my own vegetables which I have been doing now for close on two months with great results. If that helps to reduce my “carbon footprint”, then I believe it has been a very worthwhile exercise. And we’re loving eating our own produce in my home!

In Conclusion: I’m still not entirely where I need to be as far as “caring for the environment” goes. I have plans to start an Earthworm Farm (one day!), we are getting solar panels in the not too distant future and a rain collection tank is on the cards for later in the year. For now we are growing some of our own vegetables, not watering as often as we used to, recycling, composting and most importantly … NO harmful pesticides are used in my garden. Ever.

As per the rules of the Earth Day Reading Project I invited three Garden Blogging friends to participate. Two responded favourably, one of them did not respond at all which made me rather sad. So to fulfill my obligation in taking part in the Earth Day Reading Project Meme, I am still looking for one more Garden Blogger to take part. If you would like to take part, all posts should be completed by midnight EDT on April 23, 2011 – please click here for all the details and let me know so that I can link to your post from here. My special thanks to Donna from Gardens Eye View for inviting me to participate and thanks to Holley from Roses and Other Gardening Joys and to Alan from It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening for accepting my invitation to participate.

You can read their posts here:
Donna’s post is at Earth Day Reading Project by Donna
Holley’s post is at Earth Day Reading Project by Holley
Alan’s post is at Earth Day Reading Project by Alan

Happy “Earth Day” everybody!

Christine's garden Do it yourself Gardening Miscellaneous

Time out with The Gardener on DVD

The Gardener DVDToday my eagerly awaited purchase of the DVD Series of the popular show, ‘The Gardener’, arrived in the mail! ‘The Gardener’ is South Africa’s favourite’s gardening magazine whose live-wire editor is inimitable Tanya Visser (see photo below). Tanya presents a weekly Television Series on the South African Home Channel called (you guessed it!), ‘The Gardener’.

Each week Tanya presents a topical gardening subject ranging from laying your own lawn, pruning roses to complete garden make-overs. She presents some beautiful gardens around South Africa with a brilliant variety of design styles and plant selections to inspire anyone to get stuck into their own garden. Each show offers practical gardening tips (essential viewing for a gardening-newbie like myself) as well as DIY projects, practical demonstrations from experts and a whole lot more.

So far I’ve watched the first disc on ‘Maintenance’ (see below). I’ve learnt how to maintain edging around beds and paving, how to care for and prune roses correctly from South Africa’s best known rose expert, Ludwig Tascher and I’ve learnt the ins and outs of looking after my lawn.  I picked up some valuable tips on correct usage of my automated irrigation system and finally, I’ve seen how to lay instant lawn.

Once I’ve watched the next disc I will hopefully know how to control weeds in lawn, fertilizing and feeding lawn and dealing with shady areas as well as preparing soil, planting filler plants in dead or thin areas and feeding plants and then, once again they cover roses. This time its looking after roses – preventing pests and controlling weeds.

There are three discs that cover Garden Makeovers, two discs dedicated to Watter Features, two discs on Container Gardening and three discs that cover Growing. The three maintenance discs cover various aspects of maintaining and improving your garden and finally, the last two discs are all about Going Green.

I’m enjoying watching the DVDs and I HIGHLY recommend these DVDs for South Africans that missed the show on television and are passionate about their gardens and need help learning how to do things correctly. All in all there are 19 discs available – I did not order the “Cement” DVDs because I don’t think I’m quite ready for messing around with cement at this stage. So I have 16 discs to watch and learn from.

For anyone interested in the Magazine or the DVDs of the series, visit the website at:

If I’m a bit scarce on the blog for the next few days … its because I’m watching the DVDs!

NOTE: We are in no way affiliated with this magazine, I paid the standard price for the DVDs and they have no idea that I planned to mention this on my blog (I doubt they even know our blog exists!).

Happy gardening

Christine's garden Gardening Miscellaneous Reviews

My favourite gardening magazine

The GardenerMy favourite gardening magazine is The Gardener (South African Magazine). The February issue has just arrived in the shops so I got it today and as always it is packed full of interesting articles and information. Its perfect for a novice gardener like myself because there is so much to learn. Their blurb goes “We know South Africans love their gardens! This magazine inspires the home enthusiast with practical ideas for maintaining and enhancing their gardens, patios and backyards. New plants and products are mentioned first in The Gardener and there is also a special focus on indigenous gardening in South Africa“.

This month they have a feature on Frangipanis. A gorgeous 4 page spread that makes me want to rush out and buy one of these beautiful trees. I have one in my garden – it has yellow flowers and fills the front garden with the most wonderful scent in spring, but oh … I so badly want one of these pink ones like they have on the cover. Isn’t it beautiful?

There is a very useful article on growing veggies – with a section on which veggies to grow in shady areas. That was very useful for me because the spot my veggie planter is going to be positioned in does not get full sun all day long. So good to know what I can expect to produce.

As always it has a full article on what we should be doing in our gardens next month (February) – also useful to have for Mrs Black Fingers here!! All in all this is a fantastic magazine – of all the gardening mags I’ve bought this is my favourite.

You can see their website at: