The Garden That You Are is just one of several local books to get you thinking about working with soil.

CHECK THIS OUT: How green is your thumb?

Anne DeGrace writes about gardening literature

This is the time of year when the hardy gardeners amongst us start flashing their greenery — thumbs, that is. At the library the books pile up for checkout, and as they do, my thumbs tingle in their non-greenness. I am not, have never been, may never be a gardener.

It’s not for lack of inspiration: legions of Kootenaians grow fabulous gardens as profiled in books such as The Garden That You Are by Katherine Gordon, a meander through the Slocan Valley’s stunning gardens, both food and flower; The Talking Spade: Garden Lore from North Slocan Elders by Anne Champagne; and Growing Home: The Legacy of Kootenay Elders — a look at life and gardening through the eyes of some folks you might know — by Lee Reid.

Don’t think it’s just retired folk with time to garden. Beasley author Ann Alma wrote Kids Who Grow Their Own Food: Facts, Notes, and Helpful Hints, and it really is full of all those things along with plenty of inspiration and a peppering (pardon the pun) of jokes such as: “What did the plum say to the cucumber?”

If I’m not short of inspiration, I’m not short of education, either. I could start with Down & Dirty: 43 Fun and Quirky First-Time Projects and Activities to Get You Growing by Ellen Zachos, or, if I want to be more pragmatic, The Veggie Gardener’s Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask by Barbara Ellis.

I can turn my wanna-be green thumb earthy with The Secrets of Great Soil: a Grower’s Guide to Composting, Mulching and Creating Healthy, Fertile Soil for Your Garden and Lawn by Elizabeth Stell, among other great books on these subjects. I can borrow books to help get my lawn off grass, control pests naturally, or plant flowers for butterflies.

I can also get topical tips through online magazines at, where I can peruse Canadian Gardening and Better Homes and Gardens, among others; on our physical shelves, I can flip the pages of Fine Gardening or Mother Earth News.

As I still harbour doubts that my digits will improve their colour, a great course of action could be actually taking a course — through Gale Courses online. These live, interactive courses — free with your library card —offer learning across a vast range of subjects, including out topic-of-the-day. Choose from Start Your Own Edible Garden or Growing Plants for Fun and Profit, with the next start date May 15.

On Saturday, there will be two more places for inspiration:

The Friends of the Nelson Library now holds sales several times a year. On May 11 downstairs in the library, look for incredible bargains on non-fiction books with a special section of gardening books! These are nearly new books for a couple of bucks — and it doesn’t get much better than that. The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The eight annual Nelson GardenFest on May 11, a project of the West Kootenay EcoSociety, offers up a colourful array of booths on Baker Street where you can get seeds, starts, shrubberies, and advice. GardenFest runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when happy, smiling, garden-hopeful people converge to get greener. It’s enough to spark inspiration in the brownest of thumbs. Pick up your seedlings, plus a book to help you help them grow.

The answer to the plum-cucumber joke is, of course: “I may be in a jam, but you’re in a real pickle.” But I know that if I really apply myself, I’ll be in neither — at least, not until fall, when I start poking around in the canning and preserving section of our library.

Anne DeGrace is the adult services co-ordinator at the Nelson Public Library.

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