If like me, you find yourself needing to escape the brutal mid-day heat of the Central Valley but can't stop thinking about gardening, I recommend the following with a tall glass of iced tea:
From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden
by Amy Stewart
FROM THE PUBLISHER
Amy Stewart had a simple dream. She yearned for a garden filled with colorful jumbles of vegetables and flowers. After she and her husband finished graduate school, they pulled up their Texas roots and headed west to Santa Cruz, California. With little money in their pockets, they rented a modest seaside bungalow with a small backyard. It wasn't much—a twelve-hundred-square-foot patch of land with a couple of fruit trees, and a lot of dirt. A good place to start. From the Ground Up is Stewart's quirky, humorous chronicle of the blossoms and weeds in her first garden and the lessons she's learned the hard way. From planting seeds her great-grandmother sends to battling snails, gophers, and aphids, Stewart takes us on a tour of four seasons in her coastal garden. Confessing her sins and delighting in small triumphs, she dishes the dirt for both the novice and the experienced gardener. Along the way, she brings her quintessential California beach town to life—complete with harbor seals, monarch butterfly migrations, and an old-fashioned seaside amusement park just down the street. Each chapter includes helpful tips alongside the engaging story of a young woman's determination to create a garden in which the plants struggle to live up to the gardener's vision.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
William Alexander had a simple dream of having a vegetable garden and small orchard in his backyard. It was a dream that would lead to life-and-death battles with groundhogs, webworms, and weeds; midnight expeditions in the dead of winter to dig up fresh thyme; skirmishes with neighbors who feed the vermin (i.e., deer); the near electrocution of the tree man; and the pity of his wife and children.
Both are quick, satisfying reads.
May I also suggest a look at a few of may favorite gardening blogs:
Angela's Northern California Gardening Blog
My Bay Area Garden
In My Kitchen Garden