For the last several years, more and more Americans have decided to devote a portion of their time, energy and money to vegetable gardening. The trend runs from well-to-do gourmets trying to grow rare heirloom vegetables to cash-strapped householders trying to make ends meet. But what they share in common is a desire for excellent, fresh-picked produce with a flavor and quality you just can’t get in stores. That said, not all gardens are created equal. If you want to join the millions of home vegetable gardeners breaking ground on their first plots this spring, what should you know first? We couldn’t do better than recommend Barbara Damrosch’s Garden Primer. The book is designed for the newcomer, aiming to answer as many fundamental questions about gardening as possible. But it’s also a very enjoyable book to read, told in a chatty and pleasant tone that will appeal to seasoned gardeners as well. Sure, Damrosch will tell you what gear you’ll need, how to plan a garden, and what to look for when buying plants, with detailed listings for annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, fruits and more, even landscape gardening features such as shrubs, lawns, trees and more. But all that information, though scholarly and correct it most certainly is, is delivered with the charm of a gracious friend dropping by for coffee, with a few tangents and tales along the way. We often peruse our well-worn copy along with the seed catalogs this time of year, and we’d recommend it to any gardener who wants to ward off a little cabin fever during this lingering winter.
In late winter, some of our friends begin starting garden plants indoors, in everything ranging from paper cups to clay pots. When they’re grown and the soil is warm, they will be transplanted into the garden. But while they’re indoors, they must be watered by hand, and can be fussy if they don’t get enough water. Many seeds need consistently moist soil in order to germinate properly. As they grow, on some of the warmer, brighter days, these tiny seedlings can get parched from dry soil. As gardeners learn sooner or later, there is a proper tool for every job. An old watering can with a sprinkler-type spout is picturesque, but completely ill-suited to watering a few dozen tiny pots inside your home. Thankfully, these long-spouted watering containers do the job perfectly well. The can accepts water through a hole that’s wisely located on the side, where no faucet will be obstructed. The upturned spout helps ensure control when dispensing water to tender young plants, and the spout’s small mouth can poke through foliage and get the water where it’s needed, with the fewest spills. And since the pot can hold as much as 1.5 liters, chances are one pass in the morning will get the job done, freeing you up to get on with your day