Vintage gardening wisdom

As I leave the bakery each morning I drop off our organic waste and recycling. The recycling dumpsters are sometimes filled to the top, spilling cardboard (usually) onto the ground. Last week though they were not overflowing yet there was still something on the ground -- a book turned face down. Maybe not too surprising as there is a book store that shares these dumpsters, but still, one single book -- I've never seen books here before.

Upon picking it up I saw that it was surely intended for me to find, some cosmic force or another guiding me to this place at this time. Yes, an old Sunset Gardening book!


Clearly vintage, I saw that it was amazingly clean of spoilage so grabbed it and brought it home. Let's take a look!

Yep, vintage, but gardening is an age-old endeavor so this book must surely still be full of useful information, right?

You bet! Being a gardener in the twenty-teens though, I don't have time for reading. Luckily there are loads of great illustrations here to help me quickly understand the concepts.

Such as the proper way to hold soil in my hand and pile it up...

Or how to lift heavy trees and other objects:

Clearly you should let your lower back take the brunt of the load -- save those knees!

More evidence that your back is your power center:

Hmm, does that last figure look like he's in some pain or regrets something? Nah. Moving on...

...I learned some helpful grafting techniques! It's popular so never mind that it's not ideal. Where's my bucket of tar? (Is there a reason I just chopped down a good-sized tree for this?)

I learned how to plant a tree:

And how to... I don't know...shock a plant that's doing too well?

Oh, it's root pruning to keep a potted plant in check. It looks pretty easy: just slice downward...

...then add honey?
That's a folksy tip that's been lost over the last 40 years! (Don't forget your layer of gravel!)

Then the book got into some questionable areas, like fertilizing:

I don't really fertilize my lawn too often, but even I know that if your lawn is changing color (dying?) instantly upon application, you're doing something wrong.

There are some "easy" projects too:

This "easy to make" screen should only take you a few hours to create! I think the definition of "easy" has changed a bit over time.

Here's another one:

Definitely easier to make, but where am I going to find a "5-gallon can"? (whatever that is)  I'm sure this is really easy to hoist when full too -- don't forget to lift with your back again!

The most helpful part of the book though is toward the back...

Plant guides! No more need to imagine what a plant will look like -- now you can just see for yourself!

Yeah, but how can I combine those plants in pleasing ways? Again, no need to visualize in your mind...

...they've done the work for you! Breathtaking!

Clearly times have changed, as the page on mowing the lawn shows...

...and I hope you realize that my comments are meant to be humorous. Sunset is well-respected and still going strong!

Although I suppose even today's beautiful Sunset books will in 40 years be tossed into the hover dumpster or recyclo-rama...

(If anybody wants this book, please let me know in the comments. I'll randomly choose and send the lucky reader this vintage tome!)


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (August 10, 2016 at 5:34 PM)  

What an awesome find! This is the same category as 1970s cookbooks or old Sears catalogs :-).

danger garden  – (August 11, 2016 at 12:04 AM)  

We are so lucky to be living in the digital photography, full color, era!

outlawgardener  – (August 12, 2016 at 6:42 PM)  

So, if 1972 is vintage, that makes many of us antique. Oh well, we'll all be tossed in the dumpster soon enough. I think this book is destined to live with you!

Alan  – (June 26, 2018 at 5:53 PM)  

I just realized that the plant guides page toward the end of this post would make a great reference for a botanical-themed tattoo.

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