Grit Blogs > The Open Book

Reading About Gardening and Food

By Jean Teller, Sr. Assoc. Editor

Tags: container gardening, kitchen gardens, food system, environment, sustainable agriculture, local food, books,

Jean TellerToday, the temperature is in the 70s. For Sunday, they’re talking 30s and snow. Go figure. All I can say is it’s almost spring in Kansas.

So, of course, my mind turns to warmer temps and my container garden. The last couple of years, I’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, basil and oregano. Think it’s about time for me to diversify a bit? Me, too. Which is why it was so great to have Grow Plants in Pots, a book from Martyn Cox and DK Publishing, cross my desk.

Grow Plants in Pots by Martyn CoxThis gorgeous, packed book contains a garden’s worth of information and spectacular images. From the opening section on Designing with Containers, I was drawn into this book, and my head is spinning with ideas for my own container garden. I know I don’t have the space or the talent to make my garden look like one in these photographs, but I’m dreaming big, believe me!

 The next two sections focus on specific varieties: Foliage and Flowers, and Fruit and Vegetables. More beautiful photos have me thinking I can expand my containers to include colorful blooms and different veggies. Plant descriptions are accompanied by tips for growing, suggestions for pots and combinations of plants for each pot, and additional varieties. It’s a fascinating book to read, flip through and hoard, just like the tomatoes and peppers I hope to plant this year. Maybe I’ll add lettuce and more herbs this year.

Grow Plants in Pots is scheduled to be released in April – just in time for gardeners pulling out those containers from the garage.

Pre-order your copy of Grow Plants in Pots at Grit's Bookstore.


The Complete Kitchen Garden by Ellen Ecker OgdenFrom Abrams Publishing comes another great-looking book, The Complete Kitchen Garden by Ellen Ecker Ogden. Filled with 14 designs for a variety of kitchen gardens, the book also includes tips on getting a garden started, tips for growing the specific gardens, great illustrations of the gardens, gorgeous photographs and, get this, recipes that make use of the produce found in each garden. It’s a wonderful book to leaf through, and if you have the room and the inclination, I’m sure you’ll find some inspiration in these pages.

One of the gardens is a container garden, and although the plan obviously is for a space larger than mine, I hope to put to use some of the tips. And a couple of the recipes sounded simply divine!

To order a copy of The Complete Kitchen Garden, visit the Grit Bookstore.


Diet for a Hot Planet by Anna LappeWhile not a gardening book, Diet for a Hot Planet, by Anna Lappe, takes a closer look at our food system with the goal of nudging us all toward growing more of our own food. Not only in response to food security issues and lowering our carbon footprint, but for the simple fact that homegrown produce tastes better.

The eating-local movement is growing, and Lappe drives home the point that locally grown food is better for us healthwise and environment wise. She also points out that changing our views of food, how it’s grown, processed and transported, and how we eat may be just what we need to save the planet – and ourselves.

Diet for a Hot Planet is a dense read with lots of facts and figures, and it paints disturbing images of what we may face in the future. Overall though, the book is a treatise on our future as a community, a nation, a global entity, and a glimpse at what we can do to change that future. I found myself marking something on every other page, and I know there were many more points I could have marked. It’s a fascinating, disturbing and invigorating book.

Check out our Grit Bookstore to order the thought-provoking Diet for a Hot Planet

Farmer Jane by Temra CostaAs a companion title to Diet for a Hot Planet, I would recommend Farmer Jane by Temra Costa. An inspiring look at the sustainable food industry, Farmer Jane spotlights 30 women who are making a difference as they go back to the land and connect with food. They each advocate a more nurturing food system, not only for the health of humans but for the health of the planet, and while they each are doing it in slightly different ways, they all ask and answer myriad questions concerning food and farming.

How do you get involved in the local food movement? Here’s the answer. Want to start a community-supported agriculture program? Take a look. Hope to change local policy concerning the raising and selling of locally grown produce? Look for help in these pages. And do you want to learn more about locally grown food, renewable energy, and sustainable food movements? Look no further. You’ll find it in Farmer Jane.

Visit the Grit Bookstore to order Farmer Jane.

Enjoy and read a chapter for me! See ya soon.