Thursday, August 30, 2012

Farm and Garden Picks: The Timber Press Encyclopedia of Flowering Shrubs

Rich attributes including vibrant color, fragrance, and sheer variety of form make flowering shrubs the most rewarding of garden plants, but this vast group with its scores of tempting plants — including abutilons,camellias, viburnums, and witch hazels — requires careful navigation.

Leading expert on woody plants Jim Gardiner has distilled several decades of knowledge and experience into The Timber Press Encyclopedia of Flowering Shrubs, an incomparable pictorial reference of hardy shrubs that excel in temperate-zone gardens.

by James M. Gardiner
Timber Press, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Farm and Garden Picks: Organic Meat Production and Processing

Consumers purchase organic meats for what they perceive as superior taste, better nutritional value, long-term health benefits, or enhanced product freshness. Many consumers also believe organic meat is safer than conventional, perhaps containing lesser amounts of pesticides or foodborne human pathogens. Organic livestock farming, which is reputed to be environmentally friendly and sustains animals in good health resulting in high quality products, has a defined standard with a greater attention to animal welfare and requiring at least 80 percent of feed grown without pesticides or artificial fertilizers. The higher guarantee of the absence of residue is certain, but the effect of organic farming on qualitative characteristics of the products is unknown. Substantial growth in organic food sales of all categories has occurred in recent years and certified organic food production has evolved into a highly regulated industry in the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan and many other countries.

Organic Meat Production and Processing examines in detail the challenges of production, processing and food safety of organic meat.

edited by Steven C. Ricke, et al.
Wiley-Blackwell, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Review: The Book of Draft Horses

As the name implies, "draft horses" are renowned for their size, strength and proficiency as beasts of burden - pulling wagons, plowing fields, hauling cargo. But the ancestors of today's Clydesdales, Percherons, Belgians were the expensive possessions of medieval royalty. They were more likely to be found in festivals and battles ridden by knights in armor than working on a farm.

It wasn't until the 1800s that the draught horse or dray horse found its calling in the fields, and the career was short-lived. The advent of trucks and tractors driven by internal compustion engines brought an end to the age of horsepower.

As freelance writer Donna Campbell Smith illustrates in this book,  the advent of the engine didn't mean an end to the heavy horse. They are still being used in many parts of the country for hauling and plowing, as well as for pleasure driving and county fair pulling contests.

The Gentle Giants That Built the World
by Donna Campbell Smith 
Lyons Press, 2007
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Stearn's Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners

From Abelia, those ornamental shrubs named after Dr.Clarke Abel (1780-1826), to the Zygopetalum of the orchid family, this thick reference provides the etymology of 6,000 botanical names. These are cross-referenced with about 3,000 vernacular plant names to provide a detailed guide to garden nomenclature.

The author, the late William T. Stearn, was a botanical scholar who served as a botanist at London's Natural History Museum.

This work, now reprinted in trade paperback, began as a revision of the late A. W. Smith's "A Gardener's Book of Plant Names" (1963). Originally published in 1972, it was greatly amended and expanded on 20 years before it appeared as "Stearn's Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners" in 1992.

A Handbook on the Origin and Meaning of the Botanical Names of some Cultivated Plants 
by William T. Stearn
Timber Press, 2002 
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Mountainman Crafts and Skills

Ever wondered what it was like to be a mountain man of the 19th century? Ever been tempted to test yourself in the wilderness, surviving by your wits?

Here's a helpful how-to guide for anyone interested in survival skills, camping out without electricity, or impressing friends at the next mountain man rendezvous.

Author and illustrator David Montgomery has compiled a manual for making the tools, clothing, traps and meals of the mountain men who roamed the Rocky Mountains nearly two centuries ago.

He offers patterns and step-by-step instructions for tanning hides, making buckskin shirts and leggings, building a rifle, constructing a tipi, sculpting a snow cave and much more.

Mountainman Crafts and Skills
A Fully lIlustrated Guide to Wilderness Living and Survival
by David R. Montgomery
Lyons Press, 2000

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Guides: Distilling Fruit Brandy

This comprehensive, technical guide offers the curious home distiller pretty much everything there is to know about distilling fruit brandies.

Raw materials, fermentation, mashing, alcohol determination, clarifying and filtering, and storage are all presented in great detail through text, diagrams, and photos.

Each and every aspect of distilling is presented, including timing, yields, detecting distillation errors, and more.

by Josef Pischl
Schiffer Publishing, 2012