The Year I Ate My Yard

I promised you that I would give you some reviews of garden books. Here’s one that I had fun with: The Year I Ate My Yard: Essays for the Vegetable Gardener by Tony Kienitz

“This is the best book on gardening I’ve ever read, and I’m not kidding.”
STEVE MARTIN, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, actor & banjo player

Did that catch your attention? It sure did mine. Why is Steve Martin blurbing a garden book, and why does he think it’s the best? I found out. In all the years of writing reviews, I’ve read many good books. This might not be the best (I’d have to check all the past reviews), but it’s sure high up in the top ten. Wow! What a book.
It’s hard to describe. I’ll start by saying that it’s a series of 23 short essays, most of them six to eight pages long. There’s one—Abes, Rags, Nudes and Electrical Zippers—that’s longer and includes a lot of the kinds of gardening hints and tips we often read garden books for. But that’s where a resemblance to any other garden book you’ve ever read ends. A few of the things you’ll learn from this chapter include:
–why he calls himself a Master Vegetablarian;
–what it’s like to eat slugs. (No, Kienitz didn’t do it, but some of his students did);
–why you should be planting eggs with your tomato plants. No, it’s not so you can grow
eggplants;
–why turning children loose in your yard with handfuls of pennies is a good way to get them
interested in gardening;
–and how to make a garden gnome composter.
And reversing direction and going from the ridiculous to the sublime, you will find, disguised with humor, some of the most profound thoughts about the spiritual nature of gardens and gardening that you will ever read. He tells us what he learned from a speech by the Dalai Lama, how the latest discoveries in physics about string theory relate to gardening, and what he would design if he’d been put in charge of creating Eden.
I often mention in these reviews that I wouldn’t mind living next door to the author (or not). Kienitz can have my spare bedroom, but only if he promises to keep writing. In fact, the internet shows that he is still writing, but now it’s play scripts. He runs a theater school in the bay area. This book, evidently the only one he’s published, came out in 2004.
The Year I Ate My Yard, (a paperback—184 pages), is a wonderful book. Don’t miss it.

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