With help from ‘The Grumpy Gardener,’ you can prepare for spring | The Bookworm

Normally, you’d never allow it.

Holes in your yard? No way! Trenches near your garage? Nuh-uh, except in the spring, when you start thinking about hostas in those holes, tomatoes in the trenches, daisies in the divots. Oh, how you love a garden, and with “The Grumpy Gardener” by Steve Bender, you’ll get a shovelful of ideas.

Larry, Mary, Geri, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? If you’re frowning now, remember that even the most dedicated, experienced gardener has a dud now and then but there are ways to minimize that. Steve Bender has ideas.

The first thing you’ll want to know is your zone, which is not at all new-agey. Growing zones are delineated areas that indicate average low winter temperatures; you’ll need to know your zone to know where a plant might thrive or die.

On that last note, you’ll find the “Grumpy” in “Grumpy Gardener.” There are many garden and landscape plants that Bender wishes would just die. Here, find a list of the Five Most Awful Plants; reasons why you don’t want a river birch, cottonwood, or weeping willow in your yard; and why you should never move next door to someone who adores bamboo.

If you hate critters in your garden, learn what bulbs they won’t eat, what they like, and how to get rid of pests altogether. Read how to use a chainsaw the Grumpy way, and how to get your plants ready for winter. Find a way to love dandelions and know what not to plant if you have pets. Teach your teens to grow kale, then send them to college with plants that thrive on neglect. Scratch the surface on poison ivy mythology; see why sycamore trees are good if you’re a kid; and learn why kudzu could become more than just a weed someday. Get useful lawn ideas, tips on fertilizer use, mulches to avoid, and organic methods to embrace.

And finally, relax: says Bender, a dying plant is God’s way of telling you to try again…

Will silver bells or cockle shells grace your yard this year — or do you struggle to keep the lawn green? Either way, you can’t help but laugh about it when you put “The Grumpy Gardener” between those greenish-brown thumbs.

And yet — don’t be thinking this is all fun and geraniums. There’s humor inside this book, but author Steve Bender is serious about gardening, planting, and caring for greenery. The advice you’ll get is sound and useful, including sidebars in a Q-and-A format and chapters on things that may seem only barely garden-related until you need to know them. Also helpful is when Bender recommends alternatives – what to grow, for instance, if your Minnesota rhubarb hates Texas climate – and better ideas to make your garden glow.

Though much of this book is set in Zone 8 (the South), there’s still plenty of advice and a few challenges for Northern, Central, and Western gardeners. If that’s you and you’re itching to plant, get “The Grumpy Gardener.” You’ll really dig it.

More in Life

This political biography is unlike any others

Sometimes, it’s good to take account. You’ll know where you stand when… Continue reading

Lots to do in and around Federal Way this weekend and beyond

The Mirror has a new online calendar. Check it out at events.federalwaymirror.com/cal.… Continue reading

Federal Way Farmers Market kicks off 15th season

Market is open from 9 a.m .to 3 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 27

Centerstage Theatre presents musical “The Pajama Game”

Centerstage Theatre presents its final show of the 2017-18 season, “The Pajama… Continue reading

Once you start “The Last Cowboys,” you won’t want to stop

You can’t take it with you. People have tried for millennia to… Continue reading

Back to work while breastfeeding: Tips to stay on track

Here in Washington, moms already know breast is best.

Lots to do in Federal Way

The Mirror has a new online calendar. Check it out at events.federalwaymirror.com/cal.… Continue reading

What’s happening in Federal Way?

The Mirror has a new online calendar. Check it out at events.federalwaymirror.com/cal.… Continue reading

You can’t hide from reality, we aren’t immortal

We all gotta go sometime. For most of us, that time is… Continue reading

Most Read