Time to brush off those shovels and start thinking about sprucing up your yard and planting your vegetable garden. Here are some recent titles to inspire you.

The Beginners Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables by Marie Iannotti – Are heirloom vegetables more difficult to grow than conventional hybrids? This book debunks this myth by highlighting the 100 heirloom vegetables that are the easiest to grow and the tastiest to eat.

Decoding Garden Advice: the Science Behind the 100 Most Common Recommendations by Jeff Gillman – Assess gardening recommendations related to soil, water, pests, diseases, weed control, mulch, annuals, perennials, bulbs, trees and shrubs, vegetables and fruit, and lawn care.

Landscaping for Privacy by Marty Wingate  shows homeowners how to landscape their yards, balconies, and rooftops to enhance privacy by creating buffers to noise, pollution, sun, wind, kids, and dogs with berms or groups of small trees; barriers that deter invasion like living and permanent fences; and screens that will block unwanted sights using hedges

Container Garden Idea Book from Taunton Press – Containers are wonderful accents anywhere in the landscape; this book is an amazing visual clip file with more than 300 photos, plant recipes, and eye-catching designs for container gardens of all shapes and sizes.

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Gardenby Andrea Bellamy gives you the dirt on growing gorgeous organic food with very little square footage. Simple, straightforward, design and growing advice can help you transform just a snippet of space into a stylish and edible oasis.

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Seed Saving and Starting by Sheri Ann Richerson – Covers all of the essential techniques- harvesting, drying, disease and pest control, testing and germinating, and sowing

Five Thousand Days Like This One is from an Italian toast and reflects the hope for legacy and whatever permanence exists these days. This memoir by Jane Brox is  beautifully written, and it’s  also a fascinating insider look at running an orchard and farm stand in Massachusetts Merrimack Valley.

This very slim book is specific to one family, and the history of textile mills. Yet it is also  a universal story of  losing one’s heritage – either that of a family’s or an industry or a region.

Here and Nowhere Else: Late Seasons of a Farm and its Family is an earlier book and also evokes the simple pleasures and the back-breaking rigors of farm life. Brox is a master of the telling detail; the satisfaction of growing things  blue Hubbard squash, corn, blueberries and tomatoes.

By now, if you planted a garden this spring (perhaps with a bit of help and advice from the library), your kitchen counters are beginning to overflow with tomatoes and zucchini. Even if you didn’t put in a garden (or had some bad luck with the weather or pests), the Freight House Farmer’s Market is a treasure trove of gorgeous, fresh, local fruits and vegetables. Here are some new cookbooks to help you get the most out of the harvest.

Homegrown by Marta Teegen. This charming book is loaded with lots of information, clearly and concisely presented. Not sure when to pick the eggplant? Wondering what to do with all that Swiss chard? Reach for this book. Recipes and practical growing tips make this a winner.

More Vegetables Please! by Elson Haas and Patty James. Squeezing more vegetables into your diet can be fun and delicious. You’ll find lots of kid-friendly recipes here that are packed with nutrition and flavor.

Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison. OK, maybe your tangerine tree hasn’t started producing yet, but the Farmer’s Market is filled with the summer bounty of peaches, raspberries, melons and apples. Fruits of all kind take center stage in dozens of tempting recipes.

Rustic fruit dessertsTart, cobbler, grunt, slump, crisp, crumble, betty, pandowdy, buckle, teacake, galette, fool, trifle and pie – all of the evocative names (some unique to different parts of the country), all meant for one thing – delicious fruit desserts. Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber collects some of the best of these simple and satisfying dishes in this charming book.

Recipes are arranged by season, so you can take advantage of the beautiful peaches, nectarines and apricots that are available now, open it again in the fall when the pears, apples and figs arrive and then again in the spring for ideas for strawberries, rhubarb and cherries. In addition to recipes for the more common fruits from blueberries to raspberries, some lesser-known fruits – huckleberries, currants, marionberries, plumcots and pluots – are also represented. Recipes are straightforward and unintimadating – even the beginner will find success. And what better way to take advantage of the changing seasons than with fresh fruit desserts?

landscaping-with-fruitThe next time you’re thinking about adding a tree or bush to your landscape, consider one that bears fruit. Most are just as beautiful as “ornamental” trees and they have the added bonus of rewarding you with fresh, delicious fruit!

Lee Reich, well known in gardening circles for his excellent The Pruning Book, now brings us Landscaping with Fruit.  He’s gone through all the varieties and types of fruiting plants available and compiled a list of the best – best for beauty, ease of maintenance and tasty fruit. Only plants that meet all three requirements are included. Among others you’ll find sweet cherry, raspberries, grapes and apples as well as exotic tropicals that can be grown in pots. You’ll find that alpine strawberries make excellent edging plants and blueberries make beautiful shrubs year round.

In addition to information on plant varieties, Reich has an excellent section on growing and maintaining, and lots of ideas on how to incorporate these plants in your yard (so it doesn’t look like you’ve plopped an orchard down in your front yard) What about an alle of pear trees along your front walk? Or a hedge of strawberries, Nanking cherry and red current? Or try surrounding a patio with huckleberry, blueberry and Juneberries. The possibilities are endless – and delicious!