Easy Growing -- Summary
It's hard not to gush over Gayla Trail's books. They are beautifully photographed and designed, very well written, and there isn't an iota of condescension or garden snobbery to be found. Just as she did in her previous book, Grow Great Grub, Trail encourages new gardeners to get growing, but she also has a way of making us experienced gardeners see and appreciate our gardens in new ways. I've been growing herbs since I first started gardening almost 20 years ago (I started with basil -- which seems to be many herb gardeners' "gateway herb") but Easy Growing has me excited to try some new things in my garden this year.
Section One: Growing an Herb Garden
The first section of Easy Growing is devoted to the "how" of herb gardening: finding space for an herb garden, designing it, caring for it, and defending it from pests and diseases. Trail also covers information about propagating herbs and extending your gardening season. She provides great information about growing herbs indoors and overwintering them indoors -- and makes it clear that it's not easy to do! How many of us have tried to overwinter basil indoors, only to find that it grows pale and lanky in a few weeks? That's not your fault! As Trail put it when I spoke to her: "That's not you. That's trying to grow herbs on a windowsill during the winter!" Instead she has tips for cultivating herbs indoors as a short-term crop, basically growing them the same way you'd grow microgreens on your windowsill. Very smart, and a lot less hassle and guilt is involved.
Section Two: The Plants
The section section of Easy Growing is a guide to growing a wide variety of herbs and edible flowers. Another great thing about Trail's books is that they are full of useful "at-a-glance" information. In Easy Growing, you can look at the listing for any of the plants, and see right away what type of growing conditions it needs and which parts of the plant you can eat, thanks to the handy symbols Trail uses. Each listing also contains plenty of useful information about sowing, growing, and harvesting, as well as recommended varieties and information for growing in containers.
Section Three: Keeping Stock -- Gather, Preserve, and Eat
This is, in my opinion, the most useful section of the book for experienced herb gardeners. We tend to get into a rut. We use the herbs we've been growing for years in the same ways. This section provides plenty of opportunities for us to change it up a little, and to help new herb gardeners figure out how to put all those herbs they're now growing to use.
It starts off with information about harvesting, including a handy chart detailing which herbs will be available for harvest in each season. There is information about how to harvest, wash, and dry herbs. And then there are the projects and recipes: borage fritters, stuffed squash blossoms, herb encrusted goat cheese, lavender shortbread .. you'll find plenty of ideas for using your herbs in delicious ways. Trail also outlines methods for storing and preserving your herbs.
Full of great advice, delicious recipes, and stunning photography, Easy Growing will not only inspire you to grow herbs and edible flowers, but help you enjoy them to the fullest as well.