Summer: Indoor and outdoor

As the growing season for gardeners continues over the next few months, and with harvest time around the corner (yeah!), it’s important to keep diligent, whether with unwanted pests, weeding, or composting.

Everyone needs to put in the work to enjoy the harvest, whether you grow some spices in containers on the kitchen counter, have some tomato plants on the condo balcony, or have lots of space for a bigger garden plot.

Here’s some summer reading for those who enjoy gardening, whether it’s learning the tricks of composting, raising bees to help with pollination, building a birdhouse to keep garden pests in line, or being part of the movement away from the city and into the suburbs or the country, to get a bigger garden.


Learn to compost

No Waste Composting, by Michelle Batz

Cool Springs Press, The Quarto Group

Softcover, 128 pages,

Composting is important to return valuable nutrients to the soil, and to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. A good compost makes a gardener’s job easier in the long run, by providing the medium for plants to thrive.

This book covers the topic in depth and offers ways to compost both inside – under the sink, for those with only a balcony – and outdoors for those with lots of space.

In most cases, if the compost is really smelly then something is wrong, and your compost heap may not be in balance. It’s important to mix so-called brown and green compost together in the right concentrations and to throw a bit of soil to introduce the tiny organisms that will get the job done.

There are details on making a backyard composter by simply digging a pit, or modifying used pickle barrels, or plastic drums, and nailing together some wooden skids. Where’s the shovel?


Build a birdhouse

Audubon Birdhouse Book, by Margaret Barker and Elissa Wolfson

Cool Springs Press, The Quarto Group

Softcover, 180 pages,

First published in 2013, the revised edition features many great photos of birds and building plans for nest boxes for birds of all shapes and sizes, from tiny bluebirds to large Ospreys.

Many bird populations are declining, partly because of habitat destruction and climate change. Nesting opportunities have become so scarce over the years, that some bird species – bluebirds, purple martins and chimney swifts – are almost exclusively reliant on human-created housing. Barn Swallows mostly settle along with humans, and nest in structures like bars and houses.

Birds are important to the ecosystem, and keep insects in check in the garden, rodents at bay in the field, and can pollinate trees and flowers. This book includes colour photos and graphics on our feathered friends, along with detailed building plans for nesting boxes. Get building.


The beloved bee

Show Me The Honey, by Dave Doroghy

Touchwood Editions, Softcover, 295 pages,

West coast author Dave Doroghy (111 Places in Vancouver That You Must Not Miss), lives on a floating home outside of Vancouver and has spent 30 years in sports marketing, with the former NBA Vancouver Grizzlies and during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

One Christmas, he was given 15,000 honeybees by his sister and this book is the result. Through the pages, the author details his journey through the world of bee keeping in a light-hearted way, from his years of getting only five jars of honey – at a cost of about $200 per jar, when equipment and supplies are included – to being stung (lots), battling mites and invading wasps in the hive, and the latest details on so-called hive collapse.

He began bee-keeping on his floating home, and migrated a colony on shore, as well. He continues to keep bees and blogs at Share the buzz.


Live in your dream house

Modern Farmhouse Made Easy, by Caroline McKenzie

Centennial Books, hardcover, 224 pages,

With a movement away from cities and to the country, sparked in part by the global pandemic, this book is timely, and details a decorative style that is described as laid-back rustic meets industrial.

Rough-hewn beams are mixed with iron, steel and galvanized metal to give a country feel but with modern, sleek lines. The rooms have a line-in, comfortable look rather than the minimalist theme popular today of simply looking modern and are all about form, rather than function.

The book is full of colourful photos on decorating ideas, both inside and out, and includes the work of various interior designers. The various homes range from 540 square feet, to spreading mansions. And whether it’s a siding, a stair railing, main bathroom or kitchen and family room, there are some great ideas that are worth a look, and to copy.

Happy designing.