Beth over at Kitchen 55 highly recommended the book, ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. I took her advice, requested the book from my local library, and proceeded to devour the book while in a trance.  It is the delightful story of a family that vows to eat only the food they have grown themselves or that was grown locally, for an entire year.

This book enthralled me with adventure – I had never heard of morel mushroom hunting before, and never read with quite such passionate, savory detail about the flavorful cuisine one can discover while vacationing in Italy; I might have drooled on a few pages in that chapter.

And what a fun way to learn – I swear I learned something new on every page in this book; it introduced me to fingerling potatoes, and explained the birds and the bees of the mating rituals of hormonal turkeys.  And to see in dollars and cents the cost of their venture – .50 cents per meal per person, for organic food (including the cost of purchasing livestock and feed, and seeds)!

What I really, really loved about the book is that it INSPIRED me!

Half way through the book (maybe earlier), I began to feel this compelling need to expand our gardens to grow more of our own food; so now the tiller is putting in extra time while gobbling up yards of grass at the edge of the garden.

I put in a late order forLa Ratte’ fingerling potatoes, even though I had promised myself I was done ordering for this year. (And German Butterball, and Blue potatoes.)  Anyway, Seed Savers is happy.

I jumped at the chance to go morel mushroom hunting with a friend up North, and though the pickings were slim that day, it tickled me pink to be out in the forest foraging for a mushroom that I had never even heard of until I read this book a few weeks ago.  They were yummy with scrambled eggs.

And though I had vowed a few years ago that we were done with laying hens, I found myself relenting when our 12 year old son kept begging to get some chicks for layers.  With thoughts of Lily and her egg business (from the book), I insisted that he research the business before getting started, and then watched from the sidelines with secret satisfaction while he proceeded to get totally engrossed in the traits and characteristics of different breeds of layers.  (He reminded me of me.)  His choices were Silver Lace Wyandotte, Barred Rock, Gold Star, and Buff Orpington.  Sixteen hens in all, four more than what we agreed on.  How.does.that.happen?

It looks like I’ll have some new subjects to blog about; chickens and fingerling potatoes for sure.  If I can find the time.

This new book, Woody Cut Stems for Growers and Florists, by Lane Greer and John M. Dole will be indispensable for growers of woody ornamentals.  Too bad I didn’t have this information 10 years ago when I started my cut flower business, or even 5 years ago, as the gardens have continued to expand.  After reading and learning about the technique of coppicing woody ornamentals, I now feel armed with the knowledge of how to get my woody ornamentals to produce quality stems for cutting.

This book covers growing tips for over 100 kinds of woody stemmed plants for cut flower production.  Information about growing, pruning and coppicing, harvesting, and forcing for each species given.

Find this book at Growing For Market

Also available at Amazon

Winter months are a perfect time to start dreaming and planning your next garden.  If you are looking for information on growing cut flowers, here are some of the resources that were the most helpful to me when I started my cut flower business, Amazing Vase.

book the flower farmer

THE FLOWER FARMER ~ by Lynn Byczynski

This book covers every aspect of growing cut flowers; choosing flower varieties, site and soil, growing plants, dried flower gardens, woody ornamentals, harvesting, arranging fresh cut flowers, and marketing cut flowers.  This book is so helpful; I highly recommend it!

book flowering gardens

BURPEE FLOWERING GARDENS ~ by Chet Davis, Ken Druse, and Charles O. Cresson

This book is actually three books compiled into one; Flowering Shrubs by Ken Druse, Cutting Gardens by Chet Davis, and Ornamental Trees by Charles O. Cresson.  The most helpful parts of this book for me were the sections on cutting gardens and flowering shrubs.  You will find Information on planning, planting and growing cut flowers and shrubs, harvesting and designing with cut flowers, and gardener’s most-asked questions.

book growing perennials in cold climates


My cut flower gardens are mostly comprised of perennials, so this publication was extremely helpful to me for choosing plants and specific varieties for growing.  This book gives plants a five-star rating system to help you select top performing plants, along with information on cutting, drying, and companion planting.  Any gardener in the Northland will appreciate this book!

book specialty cut flowers

SPECIALTY CUT FLOWERS ~ by Allan Armitage and Judy Laushman

I requested this book from my local library so many times that they finally purchased a copy to sit on the shelves!  It is a book written quite in depth, perhaps written more for the serious commercial or greenhouse grower, but I still found it helpful.

All of these books can be found in public libraries, or purchased new or used from online book stores.

If you love gardening, history, and culture, or are looking for a gift for someone that does, consider the book, ‘Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden’, a first hand account of gardening by the Hidatsa Indians in the 1800’s.  This book was written by Gilbert L. Wilson, a Minnesota anthropologist, as his dissertation in 1917.  It was republished by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1987, and is an incredible historical document of the farming methods used by the Hidatsa people.  Buffalo Bird Woman was born around 1839 in the Missouri Valley area, and became an accomplished gardener amongst her people.  In the later part of her long life she shared a first hand account of the Hidatsa gardening methods and techniques with Gilbert Wilson, and most of the book is directly translated from Buffalo Bird Woman’s own words, complete with stories, jokes, and personal recollections about village life.

Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden describes planting, preparation, cultivating, harvesting and storing practices, as well as traditional songs and prayers sung to honor and encourage the garden’s yield.  Beautifully detailed drawings by her son Edward Goodbird illustrate Buffalo Bird Woman’s descriptions of gardening and storing produce and other activities. This book is walking, planting, and harvesting history, told with incredible detail that brings the old ways to life.  A fascinating read!!

book buffalo womans garden