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p>As the average age of America’s farmers continues to rise, we face serious questions about what farming will look like in the near future, and who will be growing our food. Many younger people are interested in going into agriculture, especially organic farming, but cannot find affordable land, or lack the conceptual framework and practical information they need to succeed in a job that can be both difficult and deeply fulfilling.
In Fruitful Labor, Mike Madison meticulously describes the ecology of his own small family farm in the Sacramento Valley of California. He covers issues of crop ecology such as soil fertility, irrigation needs, and species interactions, as well as the broader agroecological issues of the social, economic, regulatory, and technological environments in which the farm operates. The final section includes an extensive analysis of sustainability on every level.
"Herbs are the world's most interesting plants," says Howard Garrett. "They make beautiful landscape choices, are useful for cooking, controlling insect and disease pests, healing wounds, and are effective for improving the immune system." In this fully illustrated, easy-to-use guide, Garrett and veteran herbalist Odena Brannam offer expert advice on growing nearly 150 herbs suited to Texas and Southwestern gardens, along with detailed information on each plant's landscape, culinary, medicinal, and other uses.
Individual entries give each herb's common and scientific names and instructions for planting, growing, harvesting and storing it. The entries also include ideas for using each herb in gardening and cooking (with occasional recipes) and discuss its medicinal uses. A special "insight" section that offers intriguing, often little-known facts about the herb rounds out each entry, as well as a color photo.
In addition to the individual herb descriptions, Garrett sets forth the basics of organic gardening, including pest control, and discusses how to design a herb garden and also raise roses, pecans, and fruit trees without chemicals. Of special interest are his instructions for making teas from dozens of herbs, and his list of trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers with edible and/or medicinal properties. This wide range of information, not available for Texas herbs in any other single source, makes this book the perfect guide for homeowners, gardeners, landscapers, chefs, herbalists and health care providers.
For more than four decades, the self-described “contrary farmer” and writer Gene Logsdon commented on the state of American agriculture. In Letter to a Young Farmer, his final book of essays, Logsdon addressed the next generation: young people moving back to the land to enjoy a better way of life as small-scale “garden farmers.” It’s a lifestyle that isn’t defined by accumulating wealth or by the “get big or get out” agribusiness mindset. Instead, it’s one that recognizes the beauty of nature, cherishes the land, respects our fellow creatures, and values rural traditions. It’s one that also looks forward and embraces “right technologies,” including new and innovative ways of working smarter, not harder, and avoiding premature burnout.
The Plains Indians found medicinal value in more than 200 species of native prairie plants. Unfortunately, modern American culture has not paid much attention.
White settlers did learn a few plant-based remedies from the Indians, and a few prairie plants were prescribed by frontier doctors. A couple dozen prairie species were listed as drugs in the U.S. Pharmacopeia at one time or another, and one or two, like the Purple Coneflower, found their way into the bottles of patent medicine.
But in both the number of species used and the varieties of treatments administered, Indians were far more proficient than white settlers. Their familiarity with the plants of the prairie was comprehensive: There probably were Indian names for all prairie plants, and they recognized more varieties of some species than scientists do today. Their knowledge was refined and exact enough that they could successfully administer medicinal doses of plants that are poisonous. All of the species used by frontier doctors were used first by Indians.
In Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie, ethnobotanist Kelly Kindscher documents the medicinal use of 203 native prairie plants by the Plains Indians. Using information gleaned from archival materials, interviews and fieldwork, Kindscher describes plant-based treatments for ailments ranging from hyperactivity to syphilis, from arthritis to worms. He also explains the use of internal and external medications, smoke treatments, moxa (the burning of a medicinal substance on the skin), and the doctrine of signatures (the belief that the form or characteristics of a plant are signatures or signs that reveal its medicinal uses). He adds information on recent pharmacological findings to further illuminate the medicinal nature of these plants.
Not since 1919 has the ethnobotany of native Great Plains plants been examined so thoroughly. Kindscher's study is the first to encompass the entire Prairie Bioregion, a 1 million-square-mile area bounded by Texas on the south, Canada on the north, the Rocky Mountains on the west, and the deciduous forests of Missouri, Indiana and Wisconsin in the east. Along with information on the medicinal uses of prairie plants by the Indians, Kindscher also lists Indian, common, and scientific names and describes Anglo folk uses, medical uses, scientific research and cultivation. Descriptions of the plants are supplemented by 44 exquisite line drawings and more than 100 range maps.
This book will help increase appreciation for prairie plants at a time when prairies and their biodiversity urgently need protection throughout the region.
Whether you're a first-time homeowner, dedicated gardener, or landscape professional, if you're gardening on the Gulf Coast, you need Howard Garrett's Plants for Houston and the Gulf Coast. Garrett is one of Texas's top organic gardening experts, and gardeners rely on him for accurate, sensible advice about what to plant and how to maintain healthy yards and landscapes without synthetic fertilizers and toxic pesticides. In Plants for Houston and the Gulf Coast, Garrett presents nearly 400 plants, both native and adapted, that grow well in Southeast Texas.
Like all of Howard Garrett's books, Plants for Houston and the Gulf Coast is loaded with indispensable gardening information:
No other book currently available provides such extensive and reliable information for Texas Gulf Coast gardeners.
The concept of silvopasture challenges our notions of both modern agriculture and land use. For centuries, European settlers of North America have engaged in practices that separate the field from the forest, and even the food from the animal. Silvopasture systems integrate trees, animals, and forages in a whole-system approach that offers a number of benefits to the farmer and the environment. Such a system not only offers the promise of ecological regeneration of the land, but also an economical livelihood and even the ability to farm extensively while buffering the effects of a changing climate: increased rainfall, longer droughts, and more intense storm events.
Silvopasture, however, involves more than just allowing animals into the woodlot. It is intentional, steeped in careful observation skills and flexible to the dynamics of such a complex ecology. It requires a farmer who understands grassland ecology, forestry, and animal husbandry. The farmer needn’t be an expert in all of these disciplines, but familiar enough with them to make decisions on a wide variety of time scales. A silvopasture system will inevitably look different from year to year, and careful design coupled with creativity and visioning for the future are all part of the equation.
Compost your old "complete" gardening guide. There's a new way of gardening in Texas that's healthier for people and the environment, more effective at growing vigorous plants and reducing pests, cheaper to maintain, and just more fun. It's Howard Garrett's "The Natural Way" organic gardening program, and it's all here in Texas Gardening the Natural Way.
This book is the first complete, state-of-the-art organic gardening handbook for Texas. Using Garrett's mainstream gardening techniques, this book presents a total gardening program:
This book shows you how to have healthy soil and recommends environmentally safe products and even some homemade remedies to control pests and diseases in your garden. It describes more than 100 food plants and gives specific information on the growth habits, culture, harvest, and storage of each.
Knowing when and how to plant a tree are crucial to its survival. But if you select the wrong tree for your particular area and conditions, the proper planting techniques will not make a difference. Because Texas is a big place with varied climates, soils, and water qualities, a wide variety of trees can be grown there. Howard Garrett, also known as the "Dirt Doctor," explores the wide-ranging possibilities in a book that will prove its value to homeowners, landscape architects, contractors, nurseries, gardeners, and others who want healthy trees.
Texas Trees includes a complete description of native and best-introduced trees and gives details on natural habitats and preferred sites, planting and maintenance, identification information, flowers, fruit and foliage, culture, problems, and propagation. Texas Trees is for all Texas tree lovers, from the Red River to the Gulf Coast, the piney woods to the deserts and mountains.
Inspired by European intensive growers, The New Organic Grower, 30th Anniversary Edition offers an approachable and productive form of farming that has proven to work well for the Earth and its stewards for centuries. Gardeners working on 2.5 acres or less will find this book especially useful, as it offers proof that small-scale market growers and serious home gardeners can live good lives close to the land and make a profit at the same time. The New Organic Grower is ideal for young farmers just getting started or gardeners seeking to expand into a more productive enterprise.
New information has been included in this edition to showcase the new tools and techniques that Coleman has been developing during the last 35 years.
Turning waste into wealth sounds too good to be true, but many worm farmers are finding that vermicomposting is a reliable way to do just that. Vermicast—a biologically active, nutrient-rich mix of earthworm castings and decomposed organic matter—sells for $400 or more per cubic yard. Compare that to regular compost, sold at about $30 a cubic yard, and you’ll see why vermicomposting has taken root in most countries and on every continent but Antarctica.
Vermicomposting is also one of the best sustainable solutions for organic waste management. Vermicomposting manure and crop wastes on farms improves crop yields while reducing demand for off-farm inputs. Vermicast has higher nutrient levels and lower soluble salt content than regular compost, and it improves soil aeration, porosity, and water retention. Plus, vermicast suppresses plant diseases and insect attacks. Municipalities, businesses, community gardens, schools, and universities can set up vermicomposting operations to process food residuals and other waste materials.