CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Get green, read more and eat the rewards

Published 12:04 am Monday, February 19, 2024

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The greening of the neighborhood is a miracle to me every year.

I especially love it when pretty plantings yield edible prizes. Check out these books to inspire you to make everything from a living Zoom meeting background to the freshest salads around.

“Verdura: Living a Garden of Life” – I thought Wonder Bowl Garden would be my project. Plant creeping, carpet-like plants in a wide bowl and place your treasures inside. I’m thinking shells, coins and broken jewelry I find and cool rocks. It’s a natural, textural display. Then I saw the baker’s rack kind of deal, “Propagation Wall Station.” Display jars of cuttings and follow them as they mature.

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It is a beautiful display that will continuously supply you with plants. Or, fashion a standing candelabra into a planter. Upcycle a tire into a planter. Hang a basket from a banana hook. Growing something is half the fun. Making it look amazing is the rest. Perla Sofia Curbelo-Santiago of gives us “Verdura: Living a Garden of Life: 30 Projects to Nurture Your Passion for Plants & Find Your Bliss.”

A Keeping Track Journal – Linda Vater created “The Garden Journal: A 5-Year Record of Your Home Garden,” a beautiful hardcover book designed for daily notes on garden victories, hopes and chores. Some garden diva you know needs this. Perhaps it is you. Maybe it’s that generous soul who shares her zucchini. There’s space for contractors and services provided, tips on forcing branches, etc. lovely illustrations and seasonal checklists. Here’s what we can be doing now:

Winter checklist:

Plant dormant trees and shrubs

Feed the birds and keep birdbaths full

Prune dead branches and crossed limbs in trees

Look for topiaries and get supplies for seed starting

Enjoy fresh-cut bouquets of blooming bulbs

Sharpen and oil tools

Clean out potting shed on a mild day

“The Complete Guide to Vegetable Gardening: Create, Cultivate and Care for Your Perfect Edible Garden” – Of all the helpful advice in this one, I’m focusing on finding companions. As in friends of cabbage include bush beans, beets, celery, chamomile, dill, mint, onion, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme. Plant them together and they help each other out. (Cabbage foes include pole beans, mustard, strawberry and tomato.) Photos help tell the story in an easy way for novices. This is from the editors of, said to be the world’s most visited gardening resource.

“Growing an Edible Landscape” – I’d love to step into a colorful yard full of bok choi, sage and walking onions. Eat your plants from a salad, herb, tea or greens garden? Yes. Raised beds, containers, spirals and keyholes can dot your space. Homeowners association keeping you in check? This book offers ways to hide your edibles in plain sight, with more flowering edibles. Sneaky huh? You rulebreaker, you. Gary Pilarchik of the Rusted Garden and Chiara D’Amore of The Community Ecology Institute, say out with the lawn and in with the food. Compost now, even before you plan.

“The Cut Flower Handbook” – Basil. It’s not just for Italian food anymore. Let’s get that herb into floral arrangements. Step into you yard to cut colorful snapdragons, sunflowers and cornflowers to arrange to your heart’s content … and maybe even make some cash. If you’re into pinching, mulching and blooming, Lisa Mason Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop gets you. Consider flowers for long vase life and tall stems, those that hold petals and boast strong necks and are productive and pollenless. Discover cleverly named beauties such as winged everlasting. I agree, big showy cabbages and kale pop in an arrangement.

“The Layered Edible Garden” – Are you counting oak and redbuds in your edible garden? They fall into the canopy and subcanopy layers from Christina Chung of Fluent Garden. A beginners guide from ground covers to trees, it’s amazing to discover how so many influencers a garden can boast. There’s a surprise on every page. I had a favorite low redubud that was just my size as a kid. If I knew then I could eat those pinky buds, I’d have put them on cupcakes instead of just mud pies.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie whose ideal garden would be mainly edible, entirely colorful and seasonally aromatic. Share ideas with her at