Growing by the book: titles for the gardener in you

OK, you need to be on a familiar basis with hammers and nails for most of the ideas in "The Vegetable Gardener's Book of Building Projects" (Storey, $18.95).

This DIY compendium delivers great step-by-step instructions and graphics, from the simple (a T-Pea Tower for climbing plants) to the advanced (the lovely Welcoming Arbor). Don't let the title fool you: Projects include outdoor furniture, compost bins and birdhouses — and the pansies will look just as nice as carrots in the Square Planter.

  • "What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?)," by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth (Timber Press, $24.95), came out in late 2009, when the only thing wrong with many plants was that they were still burrowed underground. This book bases its tutelage on progressive drawings that will help puzzled gardeners diagnose the troubles. Another plus: Suggested remedies are organic.
  • "One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square," by Lolo Houbein (The Experiment, $18.95), enchants on many levels. Veggie gardeners (especially rookies) will benefit from Houbein's knowledge, which is informed by science and folk wisdom, as well as the breadth of its content (growing information, 30 design plots, many recipes). This single line could sustain us for life: "Never garden in a mood of wanting to control everything." The book is filled with such lines.
  • Leafing through "Big Plans, Small Gardens," by Andy Sturgeon (Mitchell Beazley, $24.99), our first reflex was to wonder what he charges and if we could afford him. We're confident the book is cheaper. Less about growing plants than about growing the spaces they'll (and you'll) inhabit, this nifty guide offers knockout ideas incorporating designs for any small space in a yard.
  • Vertical gardening is all the rage, but hardly a new development, plantwise — enter "Armitage's Vines and Climbers," by veteran writer Allan M. Armitage (Timber Press, $29.95). That said, there are choices beyond clematis and pole beans, and this photo-packed primer delivers the pros and cons for 100-plus plants to help gardeners and gardens reach new heights.

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