Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Between the covers

Today was one of those run around like a mad ass kind of days, that also included a stint on Channel 9 television's Dunedin Diary programme doing my regular book review slot.

This month I reviewed a couple of non-fiction books, and these are my notes for what I intended to say. Naturally, it isn't what actually came out of my mouth, because those little things like nerves, feeble memory and Dougal's questions and comments make me deviate from the master plan.

Growing Organic by Nick Hamilton and Philippa Jamieson.

Growing Organic is a British book by Nick Hamilton that Philippa Jamieson has edited and adapted for the New Zealand situation. Philippa’s the editor of New Zealand Organic magazine.

I would call this a beginners guide to organic gardening, and gardening in general as it covers topics from which tools to select and how to get started from growing seed to taking cuttings to watering techniques. It covers the inevitable bugs, and has suggested organic sprays, although I would have liked a few more homemade spray recipes as we have an impressive aphid invasion happening. It doesn’t have photos but has good diagrams that are helpful.

It also has a helpful section on storing your vegetables once they’re harvested. What to do with that bumper crop that’s coming out your ears rather than just give it away to the neighbours. And of course composting and what to do with the leftovers.

I’d recommend this as a good basic book for people wanting to get started on the pleasures of growing your own food.

Dunedin Tracks and Trails by Antony Hamel

This has got to be one of the handiest books published. For a family like mine where we like to get out for the odd walk, and have a mountain biker always looking for places to ride, it’s brilliant.

The books nicely divided into geographical areas and as well as showing the tracks and clear directions how to get to them, it has lots of fascinating information about the area’s history and what to look out for.

Each section also has a summary of the walks, approximate time, distance and how hilly as well as a rating. I particularly liked the Features list, and the North Dunedin one of pondering why our future leaders and intellectuals seem happy to live in such messy flats as students.

It gives all the vital information, like when tracks are closed for lambing and when they’re crossing private land and you need to be aware of cattle.

I’d say that this is a book that every Dunedin home needs to have, and our family will certainly be popping out with it over the summer to enjoy some fresh air and the local scenery.

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