Casual Gardener: Gardening Books To Bring Christmas Joy


The self-sufficient garden of Klaus Laitinberger. Available on

Klaus Laitinberger, a German-born organic gardener based in Co Leitrim, can probably tell you more about growing vegetables in Ireland than any native. In this fourth book, he explains everything you need to know about creating and maintaining a garden that will support a family of four all year round. The bad news is that he estimates that you will need around 400 square meters of land and a polytunnel. But fear not if you don’t have such a stretch, because the knowledge included here can be applied to get the best results from a 6’x4 ‘raised bed – and it’s all chemical-free and durable. Today’s market gardener only needs fertile ground, a little enthusiasm and a copy of the Self-Sufficient Garden at hand.

Grow Your Own Mushrooms by Folko Kullmann is published by Green Books

Grow Your Own Mushrooms by Folko Kullmann is published by Green Books from

A branch of horticulture rarely explored as a hobby, Folko Kullmann explains how to grow edible mushrooms indoors or outdoors. With a 12-month plan to ensure a steady supply, the author shows in easy-to-follow steps how you can grow fantastic and tasty mushrooms, whether your garden is large or limited to a balcony. Thriving in shady, damp areas that many plants reject, the fungi will grow on logs, straw bales or ready-made growing media. Find out how to create the perfect growing environment for exotic varieties like shiitake, oyster, and wine cork, while learning about their medicinal and nutritional benefits.

How to Pick Mushrooms Without Dying: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Identifying 29 Wild and Edible Mushrooms by Frank Hyman (Storey Publishing)

If growing a mushroom crop seems a bit too ambitious, then maybe you’d rather look for it in the wild? On the cusp of renewed interest in foraging, Frank Hyman provides a reliable guide to distinguishing safe fungi from toxic ones. For novice pickers who just want to answer the question “Can I eat it?” », That seems to be the reference book. Suggesting easy ways to identify the fungi they find, the book offers expert advice in layman’s terms – that is, it’s easy to remember in the field. And some simple tests to determine if a mushroom is a delicious morel or a poisonous false morel? Cut it in half – “if it’s hollow, you can swallow it,” Hyman says.

Growing under cover: techniques for a more productive, weather-resistant and pest-free vegetable garden by Niki Jabbour (Storey Publishing)

Unpredictable weather conditions and pest attacks have long been the stuff of market gardeners. However, this in-depth guide shows how to use small solutions such as bells, row covers, shade cloths, cold sashes, and hoops, as well as larger protective structures such as greenhouses and polytunnels, to create controlled growth spaces for vegetables to thrive. It also highlights the many benefits of using protective covers to plant earlier, eliminate pests, and reap a healthier, more filling bounty all year round.

Garden allies: insects, birds and other animals that make your garden beautiful and prosperous by Frédérique Lavoipierre (Timber Press)

Somewhere in human evolution, creepy critters were seen as a bad thing and something to be avoided – and even exterminated. But the tide is turning and gardeners were among the first to recognize that insects are overwhelmingly on our side. They pollinate our flowers and vegetable crops and control pests. In Garden Allies, Frédérique Lavoipierre shares fascinating portraits of these creatures, describing their life cycles and showing how they keep the ecology of the garden in balance. Helpful information on how to feed and welcome these precious creatures to your garden is also included.


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