GARDEN SMARTS, A BOUNTY OF TIPS FROM AMERICA'S BEST GARDENERS
by Shelley Goldbloom
346 pp., $14.95 (paper)
The title says it all: Shelley Goldbloom has scoured the US and Canada, every region and every altitude, for time-tested ideas for getting more out of your garden - like the baking soda and cooking oil recipe for avoiding black spots on roses from Fred Wiche of Louisville, Ky., or the coffee-can irrigator for tomatoes and other large plants from Sioux City, Iowa, gardener Tatiana Bodine.
There's even a great way to dry herbs - in the refrigerator, this one came from Chris Weingland of Kalaheo, Hawaii. And horticulturist Barbara Voight tells how to make and use papier mache in the garden. You'll need a plumber's plunger and a little ammonia as well as some old newspaper.
All told, well over 1,200 practical ideas have come from more than 200 gardeners, but initially they didn't come easily. When Goldbloom was first asked to produce a book of down-to-earth gardening tips, she wrote to every gardener she knew or ever heard of asking for ideas. The response was negligible. Barely a dozen wrote in. So in the hopes of saving the idea, she phoned every gardener she had written to.
What she found was that most gardeners didn't think they had much to contribute ''but after talking to them for a minute or so,'' says Goldbloom, ''they would invariably come out and say something like, 'Well this is something I do that has always worked for me,' and they'd go on an tell me a wonderful idea.''
The result is a goldmine of grass-roots information. In fact reading the book is like sitting down and chatting with all of them, one on one.
But the book is so much more than just an interesting and informative chat. It is organized in such a way that it will remain an ideal garden reference book.