Tiger’s Eye beans. Swenson Swedish snowpeas. Dragon carrots. Wapsipinicon Peach tomatoes. Grandma Einck’s dill. Grandpa Ott’s morning glorys. French Breakfast radishes. These are all names of heirloom seeds and all of them – and many more! – are now available from the Davenport Library’s Seed Library!
There will be a brief ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, April 19 at 11:45am to kick off this new library program.
The Seed Library has 107 varieties of vegetables, 42 different flowers and 29 herbs. Currently, all of our seeds are from Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa and all of them are heirloom varieties (some seeds were purchased and some are from a grant from Seed Savers). Many of these varieties have interesting stories about how they were handed down through different generations and how they were prized for their delicious flavors and ease of growing.
Sometime after World War II, the US population moved away from a largely agriculture background and to a more urban one. Farming and gardening habits faded away just as Madison Avenue advertising executives decided Americans only wanted to buy perfect, unblemished vegetables and only flowers suitable for bouquets. To meet these imagined desires, plants were bred to produce vegetables and flowers that were uniform in color and size and able to withstand long-distance shipping without damage. This meant that flavor (and in the case of flowers, fragrance) was sacrificed for uniformity and many heirloom seeds were in danger of disappearing altogether. Seed Savers is dedicated to preserving unique varieties before they are lost. By growing some of these heirloom seeds in your own backyard you too are helping to keep them alive.
To participate in this program, stop by the Davenport Library Main library at 321 Main Street and browse our notebook which has entries for every seed that we carry, plus basic growing tips. Choose up to five varieties of seeds per family per month (we have checklists that you can use to mark your choices) Library staff will pull your seeds for you. Be sure to log your choices in the Seed Log – there will be a drawing for a garden gift basket on May 1 from the names listed in the log! Now the fun begins – growing your seeds! If you post about your seeds on social media, be sure to tag us @davenportlibrary and use #dplseeds.
Spring! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put away the boots and coats and get outside and into the garden! It’s been a winter of epic porportions so let’s move on immediately! Of course, spring in Iowa is famously fickle and might be a bit slow to really settle in. That’s the perfect time to curl up with one of these new books about gardening and flowers. Each is packed with practical information but are gorgeous enough to act as coffee table books. Enjoy!
Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening by Matt Mattus. Prepare to encounter new varieties of common plant species, learn their history and benefits, and, most of all, identify fascinating new edibles to grow in your own gardens. This book offers a wealth of new and exciting opportunities, alongside beautiful photography, lore, insight, and humor that can only come from someone who has grown each vegetable himself and truly loves gardening.
Tulips by Jane Eastoe. Tulips have more than 3,000 variations and their diverse textures mean that they can work anywhere, from vases to garden plots, from romantic bouquets to wedding boutonnieres. From the raspberry swirl of Zurel and the petticoat-like frills of Weber’s Parrot, to the crystal rim of the Mascotte and the flaming petals of the Fabio tulip, you’ll discover a stunning range of specimens to grow, including historical and contemporary varieties.
The Pottery Gardener by Arthur Parkinson.The Emma Bridgewater factory is a thriving visitor attraction and a mecca for lovers of its iconic pottery; but tucked within is a walled garden bursting with nectar-rich, jazzy-toned flowers and hen houses of rare-breed chickens. With seasonal tips on container planting, plant profiles and helpful guides to keeping fowl and flower-arranging, The Pottery Gardener is sure to delight gardeners, hen fanciers and Emma Bridgewater fans alike.
Seasonal Flower Arranging by Ariella Chezar. This lavishly photographed book from renowned floral designer Ariella Chezar provides step-by-step instructions for 39 seasonal floral arrangements and projects that celebrate the splendor of flowers, the bounty of the changing seasons, and the wild beauty of nature in your home. There are arrangements for seasonal holidays, special occasions, or just everyday life featuring tulips, roses, peonies, dahlias, and other flowers that are easily found at farmers’ markets, local shops, or grown in your own backyard.
Dahlias by Naomi Slade. Blooming late summer to the first frost of autumn, this native of Mexico provides explosions of color in home gardens. The author unearths the dahlia from its Aztec origins and imparts practical, hands-on knowledge for growing and overwintering these tropical plants in wintry climes.
Peonies by Jane Eastoe celebrates the delicate palette, sumptuous beauty and sweet perfume of one of the world’s favorite flowers. This lavishly illustrated guide shows how easy it is to grow these bountiful blooms and fill your home with spectacular cut flowers. From the strikingly beautiful Claire de Lune to the frilly, petticoat-like Bowl of Cream, you’ll discover a splendid collection of classics, as well as the best modern varieties.
Physician-turned-journalist Don Colbert, MD offers intriguing and practical advice for optimum nutrition and wellness in Let Food Be Your Medicine: Dietary Changes Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease.Early on, Colbert shares the deceptively simple insight that we catch colds but we develop chronic diseases like Type II Diabetes or Cardiovascular disease. That is not a coincidence, either. In Latin, “Dis” refers to being “apart”, disjointed, or having a negative or “reversing force.” Ease refers “freedom from pain” or being in a tranquil or peaceful state. In essence, disease signifies a breaking away from a peaceful or tranquil state. The process of developing and solidifying disease, however, is complex and involves lifestyle & environmental factors, as well as the interplay of all systems of mind, body, and spirit.
I tend to gobble up books about food, nutrition, and wellness and am naturally obsessed with how the gut or the “microbiome”, i.e. the ecosystem living in the core of your body, is more powerful and influential over our general health & well-being than we once imagined. A discussion about the microbiome is another conversation entirely and is far beyond my scope of knowledge; but Colbert does not overlook discussing current research about the delicate ecosystem living between our brain and bowel. How curious that we may even begin to view our food cravings as tiny demands from the bacteria in our guts who have lives of their own? In essence, we are feeding them. You better believe they don’t always have your best interests in mind, either. The little “voices in your head” (or, gut, in this case) take on a whole new meaning. Read this book to dig in a little deeper as to how and why our microbiome is so influential and critical to our overall health.
Colbert mixes testimonial with current medical evidence to present a compelling argument for being mindful and deliberative when it comes to what we put into our bodies. Learn about his struggle with autoimmune disorders and how his quest to heal himself resulted in weeding nightshade foods (peppers, eggplants, tomatoes) out of his diet. Not all food is equal in its ability to nourish, heal, or harm, either, as you may know. We often take for granted that we do not innately know what foods are harmful or helpful. Many of us grew up in homes in which our parent(s) worked and perhaps did not have the time to prepare and cook whole, nourishing meals all week long. In short, eating “healthy” is not common sense. Failure to meet your daily nutrient requirements or to altogether make harmful dietary choices is not therefore some testament to your lack of willpower. Quite simply, many of us have to learn how to make better food choices, and that starts with education. If you have any curiosity whatsoever in how you can better yourself simply by changing what you put into your body, read this book.
This book is not a fix-all for all that ails you, nor does it substitute for the relationship you have with your primary care physicians or doctors. Part of what is working about healthcare is that we acknowledge that wellness involves the alignment of mind, body, and spirit or the non-physical part of a human being. Grey’s Anatomy sums up the dilemma well in one episode in which Dr. Preston Burke, esteemed neurosurgeon, argues with Dr. Cristina Yang that nurturing a patient’s spiritual state is equally as important as the medical intervention being performed, for the reason that human beings are not merely physical bodies. The non-physical parts of us require care and respect, too. Though Colbert’s book does not discuss the role of spirituality in health in great depth, he no-doubt weaves his own faith into the book (but it is not oft-putting for non-Christians). I can most certainly recall a time in my lifespan of thirty-six years when the words “soul”, “spirituality” and “Ayurveda” would have never made an appearance in a discussion about disease, illness, or health & wellbeing. But today? We are becoming more interdisciplinary & holistic in how we not only view but “treat” illness — and how we care for whole human beings (not just symptoms).
If you are even the slightest bit curious about how food can harm or heal, read this book. If you would be amazed by the prospect of eating a diet that custom made to fight diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, auto-immune disorders — read this book. Believe it or not, one of the most powerful statements that Colbert makes in this book is this: cancer, depending upon the type and staging, can and very well does constitute a chronic disease that can actually be managed like other chronic diseases not unlike COPD, heart disease, and diabetes. I don’t know about you, but aside from a cure that’s the very best next thing! Bear in mind, Colbert is not claiming to have a cure for cancer; but he lays out, in one case, a diet plan that is tailored not only to the cancer patient but to the specific stage of cancer in order to increase the chances of putting the cancer into remission…and we can do this with vegetables, micronutrients, plants–with the plentitude of healing, delicious foods that are available to us should we be inclined.
Farmers markets and CSAs are among the best places to find high-quality, diverse, and exciting vegetables and fruits. But the rich array of unusual varieties can be confusing and overwhelming.
From detailed produce descriptions to storage tips, preparation techniques, and over 200 flavorful recipes, The Farmers Market Cookbook has the answer to every prospective locavore’s perennial question, “What do I do with this?” Featuring a range of traditional favorites alongside innovative creations showcasing the stunning flavors of heirloom fruits and vegetables, this guide to seasonal eating will help you engage your powers of creativity, learning, and experimentation.
Eating locally cultivates appreciation for those who grow our food. Full of practical insights from field to fork, The Farmers Market Cookbookcelebrates the small farmer’s labor of love with recipes that showcase every crop at its best – essential reading for anyone who wants to appreciate fresh food at its best. (description from publisher)
The skills of butchery meet the world of fresh produce in The Vegetable Butcher, an essential, inspiring guide that demystifies the world of vegetables.
In step-by-step photographs, “vegetable butcher” Cara Mangini shows how to break down a butternut squash, cut a cauliflower into steaks, peel a tomato properly, chiffonade kale, turn carrots into coins and parsnips into matchsticks, and find the meaty heart of an artichoke.
Additionally, more than 150 original, simple recipes put vegetables front and center, from a Kohlrabi Carpaccio to Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne, to a Parsnip-Ginger Layer Cake to sweeten a winter meal. It’s everything you need to know to get the best out of modern, sexy, and extraordinarily delicious vegetables. (description from publisher)
Yotam Ottolenghi is one of the world’s most beloved culinary talents. In this follow-up to his bestselling Plenty, he continues to explore the diverse realm of vegetarian food with a wholly original approach. Organized by cooking method, more than 150 dazzling recipes emphasize spices, seasonality, and bold flavors.
From inspired salads to hearty main dishes and luscious desserts, Plenty More is a must-have for vegetarians and omnivores alike. This visually stunning collection will change the way you cook and eat vegetables. (description from publisher)
After the winter we’ve had – are still having! – it’s hard to believe that it’s actually, finally spring but as of yesterday, it’s true. And spring means it’s time to start planning your garden and flower beds – it’ll be green again before you know it. Really! Here are some of our latest books to inspire you.
Plantiful: start small, grow big with 150 plants that spread, self-sow and overwinter by Kristin Green – Plantiful shows you how to have an easy, gorgeous garden packed with plants by simply making the right choices. Kristen Green highlights plants that help a garden quickly grow by self-sowing and spreading and teaches you how to expand the garden and extend the life of a plant by overwintering. Discover the perfect the art of editing, share the wealth, and learn for yourself that gardeners don’t have to dig deep to grow a lively, plentiful, and colorful garden year-round.
Grow More with Less by Vincent Simeone – Put your best foot forward in creating an efficient, sustainable home landscape. From composting and mulching to planting trees, author Vincent Simeone covers all the eco-friendly essentials in one straightforward handbook. Simeone makes the what, how, and why of sustainable gardening unmistakably clear: why we should plant for the long-term, how to make the best plant selections possible, how to manage invasive species, how to make the most of your lawn (regardless of its size), the importance of IPM (integrated pest management) in fighting insects and pests, how to conserve water with proper irrigation, installing rain barrels and cisterns, and more.
The Wildlife Friendly Vegetable Gardener by Tammi Hartung – This one-of-a-kind book shows you how to create a peaceful co-existence between your vegetable garden and the wildlife who consider it part of their habitat. By understanding and working with the surrounding environment – instead of continually fighting it – you’ll reap a larger harvest with much less stress and effort. Tammi Hartung explains how to start with a hardy and healthy garden, create beneficial relationships through smart planting, attract helpful insects and pollinators, intentionally create habitats for wildlife, and much more.
Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser – It may seem counterintuitive to want bugs in a garden, but insects are indeed valuable garden companions. Especially those species known for eating the bugs that eat plants. Assassin bugs, damsel bugs, and predatory stink bugs are all carnivores that devour the bugs that dine on a garden. This complete, hands-on guide is for anyone looking for a new, natural, and sustainable way to control pests.
For over three decades, Deborah Madison has been at the vanguard of the vegetarian cooking movement, authoring classic books on the subject and emboldening millions of readers to cook simple, elegant, plant-based food.
This groundbreaking new cookbook is Madison’s crowning achievement: a celebration of the diversity of the plant kingdom, and an exploration of the fascinating relationships between vegetables, edible flowers, herbs, and familiar wild plants within the same botanical families.
Destined to become the new standard reference for cooking vegetables, Vegetable Literacy shows cooks that, because of their shared characteristics, vegetables within the same family can be used interchangeably in cooking. It presents an entirely new way of looking at vegetables, drawing on Madison’s deep knowledge of cooking, gardening, and botany. For example, knowing that dill, chervil, cumin, parsley, coriander, anise, lovage, and caraway come from the umbellifer family makes it clear why they’re such good matches for carrots, also a member of that family. With more than 300 classic and exquisitely simple recipes, Madison brings this wealth of information together in dishes that highlight a world of complementary flavors.
Inspiring improvisation in the kitchen and curiosity in the garden, Vegetable Literacy—an unparalleled look at culinary vegetables and plants—will forever change the way we eat and cook. (description from publisher)
Were Thomas Jefferson to walk the grounds of Monticello today, he would no doubt feel fully at home in the 1,000-foot terraced vegetable garden where the very vegetables and herbs he favored are thriving.
Extensively and painstakingly restored, Jefferson’s unique vegetable garden now boasts the same medley of plants he enthusiastically cultivated in the early nineteenth century. The garden is a living expression of Jefferson’s genius and his distinctly American attitudes. Its impact on the culinary, garden, and landscape history of the United States continues to the present day.
Graced with nearly 200 full-color illustrations, A Rich Spot of Earth is the first book devoted to all aspects of the Monticello vegetable garden. Hatch guides us from the asparagus and artichokes first planted in 1770 through the horticultural experiments of Jefferson’s retirement years (1809-1826). The author explores topics ranging from labor in the garden, garden pests of the time, and seed saving practices to contemporary African American gardens. He also discusses Jefferson’s favorite vegetables and the hundreds of varieties he grew, the half-Virginian half-French cuisine he developed, and the gardening traditions he adapted from many other countries. (description from publisher)
From garden to grill to fork, nothing tastes better than freshly harvested vegetables grilled to perfection alongside savory meats and plump grilled fruits. The Gardener and the Grill by Karen Adler is the grilling guide for gardeners, seasonal eaters, and “flexitarians” everywhere, and anyone enamored of the powers of the grill.
Keep the grill hot long after summer’s finished with Planked Butternut Squash with Sage and Brie; Grilled Gazpacho; a Blackened Fish Po’Boy with Grilled Green Onion Mayonnaise; Pizza Primavera; Wood-Grilled Shrimp and Yellow Peppers; Tandoori Turkey Burgers: and Grill-Baked Apples with Cinnamon Nut Stuffing. With seasonal recipes, tips on grilling for preserving, a burgeoning “griller’s pantry” of rubs and versatile sauces, and more than 100 vegetarian recipes, this is the must-have resource for eager and experienced grillers and gardeners alike. (description from publisher)
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