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March 2023 Books Read

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Most of the books I read this month were focused on gardening and foraging. Each book had something that I could use toward growing food in my small backyard. It was also a tool used in teaching my son how to garden and identify plants while out hiking. I snagged most of these from the local library and will most likely have more from the library in my posts moving forward. It’s a great place to find a variety of books to read for free. Make sure to stop by your local library to see what they have.


My favorite book of the month was a paperback fantasy book that you'll find toward the end. I've already ordered the next book in that series. The author has a ton of great books out there.


Herbs: essential know-how and expert advice for gardening success by Stephanie Mahon


This book focused on different herbs and how to grow them. It talked about the variety of herbs, how to tend to them at different times in their lifecycle, and about the best types of soil to plant them in.


I picked this one up because no matter what I do, I always have trouble getting lavender to grow from a seed. It’s one of the easiest herbs to tend to when grown but starting it has been a pain. This plant can grow in crap soil and is a hardy plant. I planted a mostly grown lavender bush last year and it did fine. The seeds though, nope.


This nonfiction read helped me understand where I was having the problem and how to alleviate it. The lavender seeds I planted after reading it are now sprouting. This book is great to have on hand for anyone growing herbs whether it be inside or outside.


Description:

Discover a wide variety of herbs you can grow successfully at home. Ideal for first-time gardeners, Grow Herbs contains everything you need to know to grow a wide variety of perennial and annual herbs. Learn how to sow, grow, harvest, and propagate your plants, with advice on caring for home-grown herbs as well as tips on making the most of store-bought pots. Explore a huge variety of herbs available to home gardeners with a wide-ranging directory, including popular herbs such as mint, basil, and sage as well as lesser-grown options like shiso and bergamot. Packed with practical, jargon-free know-how, this easy-to-use guide has everything you need to know to help your garden Grow.



Cooking with Mushrooms: A Fungi lover’s guide to the world’s most versatile, flavorful, health-boosting ingredients by Andrea Gentl


This was a fun one that I saved recipes from and went out and bought. It talked about the different tastes, textures, and styles of cooking used with mushrooms. It also shared how to store them through dehydration methods and more. I was fascinated with some of the storage methods used including turning the mushrooms into mushroom powders. This fun cookbook is something I plan to use more now that I have a copy. Highly recommend it to any of those who enjoy cooking and exploring other foods to cook.


Description:

Named a Best Cookbook of 2022 by Bon Appetit In her extraordinary first cookbook, Andrea Gentl brings to her subject equal parts knowledge and technique, along with a unique passion and sensibility. From sprinkling adaptogenic powder over granola to reinventing schnitzel with king trumpets, Cooking with Mushrooms expands our ideas of how to use mushrooms as both a food and a flavor, a seasoning and the star of the plate.

Here are a variety of mushroom broths to make you feel better. Breakfast recipes like Soupy Eggs with Chanterelles. Mushroom Larb or a Crispy Shiitake “Bacon” Endive Wedge Salad makes the perfect lunch. Mushroom Ragu or a Roast Chicken with Miso Mushroom Butter can change the dinner game, and a Maple Mushroom Ice Cream will transform your ideas about dessert.

The dishes might sound familiar—lasagna, risotto, a bourguignon, brownies—but the ingredients and flavors are as unexpected as they are delicious. In all, Cooking with Mushrooms features nearly 100 recipes that unlock the powerful flavors and health-giving properties of the world’s most magical ingredient.





DIY Mushroom Cultivation: Growing Mushrooms at Home for Food, Medicine, and Soil by Willoughby Arevalo


This was quite an interesting read. I won’t lie, I’m a bit obsessed now with mushrooms. You can forage for them and grow them. It’s a lot of fun to identify them and read the fun facts listed for them.


This book inspired me to buy a mushroom log that is now resting in my yard against a fence. It won’t grow any mushrooms for about a year, but I look forward to when it does. This book covered many ways of growing mushrooms and explained the lifecycle of a mushroom. It discussed how important fungi are to the planet’s ecosystem and even led to me picking up a few more books with related topics that will appear later down the road in my reviews.


This book gave an easy method of growing things and a deep scientific version of growing them. The scientific method is not for me, but I loved gaining new knowledge to use in growing mushrooms with a bit store bought help in the future. Worth checking out.


Description:

"Offering clear and comprehensive instructions for low-tech growing for a range of budgets, interests, and scales, this book offers practical inspiration and a sense that "hey, I can do this!" –— DANIELLE STEVENSON, owner, DIY Fungi

DIY Mushroom Cultivation is full of proven, reliable, low-cost techniques for home-scale cultivation that eliminate the need for a clean-air lab space to grow various mushrooms and their mycelium.


Beautiful full-color photos and step-by-step instructions accompany a foundation of mushroom biology and ecology to support a holistic understanding of the practice. Growing techniques are applicable year-round, for any space from house to apartment, and for any climate, budget, or goal. Techniques include:

· Setting up a home growing space

· Inexpensive, simple DIY equipment

· Culture creation from mushroom tissue or spores

· Growing and using liquid cultures and grain spawn


· Growing mushrooms on waste streams Indoor fruiting


· Outdoor mushroom gardens and logs


· Harvesting, processing, tinctures, and cooking.


Whether you hunt mushrooms or dream about growing and working with them but feel constrained by a small living space, DIY Mushroom Cultivation is the ideal guide for getting started in the fascinating and delicious world of fungiculture.



No-waste composting: small-space waste recycling, indoors and out by Michelle Balz


This read was fabulous. I’ve always kept a small composter in my yard that actually broke my hand a few years ago but this book gave me new ideas to try. This book is filled with ideas of creating composters for those who are in to keeping a budget. The DIY methods were easy to follow, build, and low cost. I’m now working to put together a few more smaller composters in my yard, and if I can talk my hubs into it, going to create one for inside the house to break down our compostable waste. Not only do you put less trash in the can, reducing waste, but it also helps create valuable ingredients for soil. This soil can then be used in gardens or simply to adjust the soil where you live so that life can grow better and therefore aid the planet.


Description:

In No-Waste Composting, you’ll discover the hows and whys of composting and find over a dozen practical step-by-step plans for building both indoor and outdoor composting systems that require a minimal amount of space.

“I don’t have enough space to compost.” “I don’t know what’s safe to compost and what isn’t.” “I live in the city, so I don’t think I can compost.” “Indoor composting systems are smelly.” “I don’t have a garden, so I don’t need to compost.”

If any of these is your excuse for not composting, then this is the book for you! Small-space composting has never been easier, more efficient, and more eco-friendly. Composting keeps millions of tons of waste out of landfills and creates carbon-sequestering, nutrient-dense compost that can be used to help fuel plant growth (including houseplants!) and build soil health.

· Build a DIY worm-composting system for a cupboard or garage

· Craft a layered, under-the-sink composting system from terra cotta pots

· Construct a simple outdoor compost bin from repurposed wooden pallets

· Use upcycled wire fencing to build a mobile composting system on the driveway

· Learn how to compost larger sticks and branches to build new food and flower gardens

· Upcycle a plastic bucket to make an indoor compost fermenting system

Plus, you’ll find plans to keep cat and dog waste out of the landfill by using a groundbreaking (and safe) DIY composting system. And if you don’t garden, author and composting professional Michelle Balz offers plenty of other ways you can utilize the wonderful, crumbly compost you create.

Whether you’re just starting your no-waste journey or you’re a seasoned recycling and repurposing pro, No-Waste Composting is an invaluable tool to have at your side. This book is part of the Cool Springs Press No-Waste Gardening series, which also includes No-Waste Kitchen Gardening and No-Waste Organic Gardening.



The beginner’s guide to mushrooms: everything you need to know, from foraging to cultivating by Britt Bunyard and Travis Lynch


This was a fun book that my son and I used to identify different types of mushrooms. We did most of it while looking at pictures online and talking about them but we did manage to find a few out in the yard and while hiking. It is a great book to have on hand when foraging for mushrooms. It shared tools that you would need for foraging and how to identify where they would be likely to grow. I highly recommend this book for those starting to forage or seeking to do so as a hobby.


Description:


The Beginner’s Guide to Mushrooms is your ultimate guide to mycology. Whether you’ve never picked a mushroom before in your life or you’ve been cultivating mushrooms at home for ages, the expert advice in this comprehensive mushroom manual will transform your practice.

Never before have mushrooms generated so much interest, for their health benefits and medicinal properties, as well as a new understanding of their crucial role in a healthy environment and ability to regenerate damaged ones. If you are a newcomer, mycology, or the study of mushrooms and other fungi, can seem daunting. While other field guides are geared toward experts with advanced knowledge or regional in scope and aimed at only a few easy-to-recognize mushrooms, The Beginner’s Guide to Mushrooms by veteran mycologists Britt A. Bunyard and Tavis Lynch is a complete reference and guidebook to get you started identifying, cultivating, cooking, and preserving mushrooms.

The Beginner’s Guide to Mushrooms opens with important basics about wild mushrooming and how to use the book. Information about what fungi are and their role in the environment and around the home is provided in brief and very understandable terms. Basic wild mushroom anatomy is discussed along with how to identify mushrooms and various characteristics to look for—of great importance if you are interested in learning how to recognize edible wild species…as well as dangerous look-alikes. The guide then covers:

· All the major groups of wild mushrooms, pointing out habitat, region, and notable characteristics—large photographs with easy-to-view characteristics facilitate correct identification.

· Mushroom cultivation—with easy-to-follow illustrated instructions, learn how to grow mushrooms at home, including how to collect wild specimens and domesticate them.

· Culinary uses and how to preserve wild mushrooms to be enjoyed in the kitchen all year round.

Begin your wonderful exploration of wild mushrooms with this accessible yet thorough beginner's guide.



Approaching Storm Normalcy Book One by A.L. Kessler


I bought this book from A.L. Kessler herself while attending a convention in Colorado back in January of this year. She is a sweet author and wonderful mother. I got to meet her daughter at the convention as well.


Approaching Storm is the first book in this series and we follow May Corvidae as she leads a life in a small town called Normalcy. The name the author gave this town cracked me up because it is far from normal. Many of the people who live here aren’t human and those that are either don’t stay long or know about the different paranormal beings around them. From werewolves and vampires, to fae monsters and sprites, this book features them all.


May is a young woman who appeared in the town half dead and with no memory of her previous life. Many of the townsfolk felt safe around her because she wasn’t quite human. She was, however, labeled human and she took on the role of a deputy. The sheriff was a human with a huge crush on her but she had a hard time accepting a date with him.


When someone from her past shows up, Zephyr, things begin to go haywire. The shields around the town are frayed and beings that couldn’t get in before are now able to breeze through. The sheriff shows up dead, sprites invade, and old murders resurface as it all falls into May’s lap. Can she clear Zephyr’s name and handle the new trauma that’s unlocked in her mind from her past? Can she face the new villain who’s shown himself that’s tied to her appearance in the town those years ago when she was almost dead?


I loved May and Zephyr and how strong the two were. I loved seeing bits of their past and how Zephyr helped assist May whenever he could to work through it all. May went through some serious stuff and only bits and pieces of it are revealed in this first book. She’s definitely not human and her true power has been hidden. The real villain behind it all breaks Zephyr some but somehow he manages to pull through to be there when he’s needed. I’m curious to see how things will unfold in the following books of this series.

May also has a group of trusty friends that seem to grow as the story progresses. It’s fascinating to watch all these beings interact, especially those who tend to step on each other’s toes. The truth behind who the sheriff really was turned out to be a surprise. I did not see that coming originally.


This book would be best for those interested in fantasy, paranormal, romance, mystery, and strong female characters. There are some triggers I want to mention found in the story and those include: rape, death, beheading, drowning, hunting, stake stabbing, blood, kidnapping, captivity, and sex. I would highly recommend this book since I struggled to put it down.


Description:


May Corvidae appeared in the town of Normalcy, Utah, five years ago with no memory of who or what she was. She built herself a new life, and the paranormal townsfolks became her family. But her quiet life goes off track the moment Zephyr shows up and claims to know things about her that she doesn’t even know herself. With the death of the local sheriff, a wind sprite infestation, and forgotten murders, Normalcy's quaint facade starts to crumble. May works to figure it all out, clear Zephyr’s name, and come to terms with her traumatic past, but a ruthless enemy is pulling all the strings, and he has his dark gaze set on May.




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