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One of the perks of being a garden blogger is that I am often given the opportunity to review newly published gardening books. I was given a free copy of “Grow for Flavor” in return for my honest review.

 
After having reviewed many wonderful books written on a variety of gardening subjects, Grow For Flavor immediately grabbed my attention by the unique way that it promised to “turn the tables on conventional gardening advice” by dispelling common garden myths such as “home-grown always tastes better” and “heirloom vegetables always taste better than hybrids”. 
 
 
The publisher promises that “this book contains tips, how-to’s and recipes on how to increase the amount of flavor in home-grown food. For example, the author describes how you can make salad greens either sweet or fiery by choosing where and how you grow them, or how to use acidic soil to give strawberries better flavor. With recipes such as “Purple Sun” Carrot Cheesecake and Spiced Pumpkin, Tarragon & Marshmallow Soup, Grow for Flavor is the perfect book for a foodie-gardener.”
 
I must admit to being intrigued at its premise and couldn’t wait to discover more for myself.
Written by self-described obsessive botanist, James Wong, has based the book on over 2,000 scientific studies as well as his own taste tests has made the goal of this book to help home gardeners grow crops with maximum flavor and minimum labor.
The emphasis is growing plants for flavor rather than focusing on quantity, which can often decrease the flavor of homegrown vegetables.
One of my favorite parts is the author’s description of cilantro, calling it the “The Herb of Evil”.  Studies have shown that “loving or hating cilantro is genetically determined.”  Either you enjoy cilantro’s bright, citrusy flavor OR fail to understand why some people love a herb that tastes like soap.  It turns out that it is all in a person’s genes.  One-fifth of the world’s population has a gene that makes cilantro taste awful.  As one of the one-fifth, it is nice to have an explanation as to why I hate a herb that so many people love.
The predominant emphasis of Grow for Flavor is to grow fruits and vegetables for maximum flavor using simple tips.  It turns out that a plant’s genes are the biggest factor in how they taste, but growing plants in full sun and taking care to NOT overwater can also help to maximize flavor.
Recommended varieties are included for many types of vegetables including my favorites – sweet corn and tomatoes including those that are best for salad and those that are ideal for cooking are also included.
 
 
Colorful photos make the book a visual treat coupled with many delicious recipes featuring fresh grown produce, wild food delicacies such as certain weeds, flower waters, vinegar, jam and syrups are also featured.
 
After spending a very enjoyable time reading through the book, I found the publisher’s description described Grow for Flavor perfectly and I highly recommend it and it now occupies a prominent spot on my plant book shelves.
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So, now for the giveaway…
 
You can enter to win a free copy of Grow for Flavor.
 
1. To enter, simply leave me a comment about what fruits and/or vegetables that you like to grow and eat.
(Be sure to leave your email address if it’s not on your profile, or I won’t have any way to contact you.)
 
2. For a bonus entry, like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter – (be sure to let me know in your comment).
 
Let your friends know about this great giveaway and I will pick a random winner on Saturday, February 13th.
 
You can also order your own copy of Grow for Flavor by clicking here.
 
*I was provided a copy of this book for free, for my honest review.
When most people think of a ‘sustainable landscape’, they view one that is boring, filled with few plants which is why they are often surprised to see how beautiful they are.
 
Over the past couple of weeks, we have talked about small steps that you can take toward a more sustainable landscape and today, we will finish up our series with a few more steps you can take in your own garden.
 
Re-think what you plant in pots.
 
Leaf lettuce, garlic, parsley growing along side petunias.
 
If you are like most people, you have a few pots that you fill with flowering annuals, which you fertilize on a semi-regular basis.
 
But, how about thinking outside of the box about what we add to pots.
 
For example, did you know that many vegetables do great in pots and are also attractive?  I like to grow vegetables in my pots and add a couple of annual flowers in for a little color.
 
 
While some flowering annuals can be a bit fussy (pansies, for example) – herbs are not.  They look great in pots, are on hand whenever you need a bunch of fresh herbs for cooking and they don’t need as much water and fertilizer as flowers.
 
Crown-of-Thorns, Lady’s Slipper, Elephant’s Food and a cactus.
Succulents make beautiful pots with their varied textures.  Because the store water inside, they do not need as much water as other container plants.



A helpful tip for planting a large container – fill the bottom third with recyclable plastic bottles.  Most plant’s won’t reach to the bottom of large containers and it is a waste of money to fill up the entire pot with expensive potting soil.  Another bonus is that it also makes your pot a bit lighter.


Use natural or recycled materials when possible.

Gate made from old Ocotillo canes and tree branches.
Often, when we are adding elements to our landscape, we overlook the many things that are recycled or natural that can fill that need.
 
For example – did you know that you can create a ‘living’ fence made from Ocotillo canes?  It’s true! I have seen them my local nursery.
 
Pathway made from recycled, broken concrete.
If your landscape needs a path – instead of buying new pavers or step stones, use recycled, broken concrete.  Or use natural stone products like flagstone.
 
 
It is hard to overstate how boulders can help a landscape go from ‘okay’ to ‘fabulous’.
 
Boulders add both height and texture without needing any water or pruning.  In addition, boulders make plants look better when they are planted alongside.
 
 
Eliminate or decrease the use of pesticides.
 
Leaf-roller caterpillar damage on Yellow Bells shrub.
Our first reaction when seeing insects damage on our plants is to run for the nearest pesticide in our misguided attempt to rescue our plants.
 
But, did you know that most plants can handle some damage from insects without any problem?
 
In fact, once damaging insects take up residence in our favorite plants – soon after new bugs come along that devour the bad bugs.
 
Bougainvillea Looper Caterpillar damage.
 
If you see something is eating the leaves of your plants, you have several options that are not harmful to the environment:
 
– Ignore it
– Prune off the affected foliage
– Pick off the insects (or spray off with water).
– Apply an organic pesticide such as insecticidal soap or BT (Bacillus thuringiensis).
 
You can also help to prevent damaging insects by planting ‘companion’ plants, which bad bugs do not like.  For example, planting garlic around roses helps to keep aphids away.
 
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I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts on sustainable landscaping.  My hope is that I have helped to inspire you to make some changes to your landscape to make it more sustainable.
 
I’d love to hear your thoughts or any ideas that you have done in your own garden to make it more sustainable.
 
For a complete listing of these posts with links, click here.