Sunday, August 03, 2008

Winter reading

It is, of course, the middle of winter here in New Zealand. Although the days are noticeably longer now that the shortest day has passed, we've still got quite a bit of cold weather ahead of us. September is spring, but where I now live, there can still be frosts in October and even early November.

These are the 3 latest knitting books I've acquired, and you can see I'm focusing on technique. While I started knitting many years ago, I've seldom knitted for myself until last year when my interest in wool and knitting revived. I've discovered that I really knew very little, so some reference books were called for.
While I know quite a lot about dyeing, I haven't dabbled in natural dyes before. A friend kindly gave me some madder, cochineal and logwood which I've sat and looked at for a few months. I have always steered away from plant dyes because of the need for heavy metal mordants (setting agents). Then I read an article in an Australian magazine about a woman who did wonderful dyeing (on mainly wool) using plants and no mordants. Her stuff was wonderful, and I'll show you the book when I get it next week. In the meantime, I bought the above books, again as reference. They're a mix of the traditional recipes and factual information, and the mainly photographic.

Which leads me to my latest interest - the no-dig garden. I am a great fan of gardening, and love my trees and flowers. Lately I've become very interested in the concept of growing all my own fruit and vegetables (you know, like our ancestors used to?) for health reasons. I'm reading these books:

Verrrrrrrrrrrrry thought provoking! I'm also reading this book by Barbara Kingsolver (don't you love that name?), author of "The Poisonwood Bible" (which I didn't like) which is about the year she and her family spent raising all their own food:
And you can see that I don't just sit around and read about, I've been out buying heirloom and organic vegetable seeds in preparation for MY foray into self-sufficiency.

I've also ordered the timber to make 3 no-dig gardens; bought most of the ingredients for the mix to go in them; bought a kitset greenhouse to start my seedlings off in and to grow tender plants (not erected yet due to aforementioned wet weather); and also bought a raised garden for crops that need more depth than the wee no-dig gardens provide. The no-digs are sited on top of existing ground with weedmat underneath, and as they're only 6 inches high, they're not suitable for carrots, parsnips etc. I'll also grow flowering plants in the raised garden, to use for dyeing.

Incidentally, I read extensively and as a result I can speed read, if you're wondering how I get the time to read all this stuff!

Lastly, here's the first of my little Australian orchids to flower - this one has been living indoors. The outside ones will flower later.


Jose said...

i can see the passion in you work :)

Ali Honey said...

Barbara Kingsolver ( yes good name ) is one of my favourites. ( how could you not like Poisonwood Bible ? )

Please let me know if her book proves useful; we try to grow lots of our own food, but certainly not enough for a whole year.

sharon young said...

Hi Shirley
Good luck with all your self-sufficiency endeavours I don't do it myself, but my OH does and I just enjoy the results :-)
I'm reading up on natural dying too, but can't speed read so it takes me a bit longer, the book I've just got is Eco Colour by India Flint, very interesting so far.

Joanna said...

I put my foot into the world of gardening this year and like you, bought a ton of books - my fav 2 are square foot gardening, which I see you have, and Lasagne Gardening - fantastic book! I am doing the Lasagne method, but I have a friend who does the lasagne layers, but uses the sq ft method on top, with huge success. So far so good with my garden - we had some grape tomatoes from the garden with our salad tonight! Can't wait to see what you do :)

Stell said...

ooo nice books, nice knitting books and dying books. I love the history of the gansey one by gladys. thanks for stopping by and commenting - I've read the knitty article, i've done this before, it works but just seems s-o s-l-o-w, compared to one at time.

katelnorth said...

You might one of BK's other fiction books - Poisonwood was I thought brilliant, but not an easy read. Prodigal Summer is much less stressful, and my favourite, The Bean Trees is just one of those lovely books. The follow up, Pigs in Heaven, is also good, but not the little nugget of perfection Bean Trees is...

Anonymous said...

Ruth Stout's How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back: A New Method of Mulch Gardening. I see she has a book I haven't read: The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book.

I used Mel's Square Foot gardening when it was "new". Absolutely wonderful way to garden in the back yard. Enjoy! JJ