Book review — 'Carolinas Month-by-Month Gardening'

By Jim Janke | May 22, 2014
Photo by: Donated

“Carolinas Month-by-Month Gardening: What to Do Each Month To Have A Beautiful Garden All Year” by Bob Polomski (Cool Springs Press: 2014) is an update of similarly named volumes published in 2001 and 2006. Dr. Polomski has extensive gardening experience in the Carolinas, including articles in regional publications and appearances on local radio and television shows. Is this book worth buying (about $20 online) for yourself or for a favorite gardener? Here’s a review.

This is a well-organized volume. The introduction covers such general topics as lighting conditions, fertilizers and pest management. Then each monthly chapter has sections titled “Plan,” “Plant,” “Care,” “Water,” “Fertilize” and “Problem Solve.” Each of these sections is further divided to discuss annuals, bulbs, edibles, lawns, perennials and ornamental grasses, roses, shrubs, trees, vines and ground covers, and water gardens. Topics are covered in sufficient detail to be useful without being boring, and the prose is easy to read.

North and South Carolina include a wide range of climates, from USDA Zone 6 or colder in the mountains to Zone 9 near Charleston. Many publications that cover a wide geographic area don’t do a good job of discussing the different requirements for each zone. For example, fertilizing cool season grasses in the mountains is very different than feeding warm season grasses in the Piedmont and coastal plain. If these differences are not stated succinctly you could fertilize at the wrong time and damage your lawn. But “Carolinas Month-by-Month Gardening” does an excellent job of explaining when and what to do in each region.

Another excellent feature is that the book emphasizes the benefits of a garden journal (a persistent theme in this column). And it points readers to their local county Extension service (and the Master Gardeners that have trained there) for further help.

The only negatives were a few instances where editing could have been improved, but these did not affect the clarity of the text. And a different picture of Japanese beetles — without the promiscuous activity — might have been better. But overall I highly recommend “Carolinas Month-by-Month Gardening” for new and experienced gardeners alike.

A good companion to this book would be “The Gardener’s Guide to Growing in the Mountains,” written by Haywood County Master Gardeners. This almanac gives month-by-month gardening tips specific to our area. Copies are available (while supplies last) for $5 at the Cooperative Extension Service office on Raccoon Road. Call 456-3575 for details.

Jim Janke is an Extension Master Gardener volunteer in Haywood County.  © 2014 NC State University.