the dirt

Sustainable gardening

Vincent A. Simeone's book "Grow More With Less" (Cool Springs Press, $21.99) doesn't just offer gardening techniques with less environmental impact. His techniques also involve less water, less work and less money, he says.

Simeone, a horticulturist and gardening consultant, believes sustainable practices can be incorporated into any landscape, whether new or well-established. Doing so involves long-term commitment and adherence to a well-conceived plan, he says, but the result is a garden that requires little maintenance and less expense.

Simeone guides his readers in analyzing their sites and creating long-term plans. He helps them choose plants that are likely to thrive, provides advice for attracting wildlife and teaches the basics of integrated pest management and water conservation. He also provides advice on sustainable lawn care and maintenance tips for keeping the landscape healthy.

Beekeeping for beginners

If you've ever thought about venturing into beekeeping, "Homegrown Honey Bees" (Storey Publishing, $14.95) can tell you what to expect.

The book, billed as "an absolute beginner's guide," was written by Alethea Morrison and illustrated with photos by Mars Vilaubi. They're husband-and-wife beekeepers from Massachusetts who share their challenges, failures and successes to help others get started in beekeeping ventures of their own.

Morrison is clearly a beekeeping cheerleader, but she doesn't try to make the hobby sound simpler than it is. "Beekeeping is not for the faint of heart," she writes. "It's like the extreme sport of animal husbandry."

The book covers the basic how-tos and answers such questions as how often you can expect to be stung, how much money you'll spend and how much time you'll need to devote to beekeeping. Brief profiles of urban beekeepers from around the country are included.

The book is written in a conversational style, with humor, I've-been-there wisdom and plenty of encouragement.

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