Monthly Archives: February 2010

Discount offer (& book review) for Growing Stuff

Blogging, like beauty, is of course its own excuse for being. However, perks are always appreciated, and surely one of the best that comes with blogging is free books. Case in point:  Asked if I would link to information about a new gardening book, I entered a counter-request: could I review it first? A week later, it was in my hands. Thank you, Jessica.

Even better, she has made an extraordinarily generous offer to all of you out there:

Quote the Manic Gardener review in an e-mail to, and get 40% off on this book!

Growing Stuff cover If most gardening books leave you feeling utterly overwhelmed, try Growing Stuff, put out by Black Dog Publishing. It truly deserves its subtitle, An Alternative Guide to Growing, because where most books assume that you have money, space, and time, this one does not. You might guess that this book takes an unusual tack since the foreword was written by Guerilla Gardening guru Richard Reynolds, but even if you don’t, you’d figure it out as soon as you leaf through a few pages.

Open most gardening books at random, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a chapter. Open this one, and you’ll almost always find a two-page spread devoted to a single topic, plant, or project. (One or two topics are given more space, while a few get less.) Illustrated with enticing photographs, drawings, and the occasional recipe (including a couple for herbal hair rinses), these short articles all emphasize accessible projects and inexpensive tools and methods.

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Origin and Evolution of “You go sleep in the garage.”

This title will at least ring bells if you've read either of my previous posts (Nov. '08, yesterday) about our friend Abdoulaye, just returned from Mali for a new stint of study at MSU.

was fairly early in Abdoulaye’s first weeks with us, in the fall of
’05, when he told us that in Mali a man may have up to four wives, but
that he has to declare, when he marries the first one, whether he plans
to be monogamous or polygamous. No springing surprises on the first
wife when things go sour.

“And what do you want to do, Abdoulaye?” my husband asked. “How many wives do you want?”

Abdoulaye rolled his eyes. “One is enough, I think.”

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Return of the potato specialist: Abdoulaye of Mali

Ablo w. Eliz

Clap your hands and cheer: Abdoulaye has returned! Yes, my favorite potato specialist from sub-Saharan Africa is back in town. I know I already posted one photo of him dancing with my mother-in-law, but it seems to me a topic worth revisiting.

In the summer of 2005 my husband told me he'd seen a poster on campus: housing was needed for visiting scientists from Mali; did I want to do it? Sure, I said, (thinking, Mali? Mali? Where the heck is Mali?) The kids concurred, so we signed up. I chose a moment when I was alone in the house to get out the atlas: there was Mali, one country inland from Senegal, in Africa's big bulge into the Atlantic, with the Congo–the Congo River!–curving through its southern half and Timbuktu–Timbuktu!!–up there in the north, just south of the Sahara.

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Wildlife stalks the city

Deer across street 

I took this photograph yesterday morning, as the deer proceeded quietly along the sidewalk across the street from our house. (That's our car in the lower right, proof that this is not out in the wild woods.) The deer did look round at me when I stepped outside with my camera, but they didn't run off.

We always see a few tracks and droppings in our yard come spring, and now and then in winter we see the deer themselves, but this year they are bolder and more numerous than ever before. I'm hoping they don't become resident pests here in Bozeman as they have in Helena, where they've caused such problems that they've had to be culled–i.e., shot. They leap out from between parked cars, causing accidents, heart attacks, and divorces (because of all the cursing), but that's nothing compared to the damage they do to gardens.

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