Format precludes depth; some sections irrelevant

YATES MONTH BY MONTH <br> <b> Judy Horton </b> <br> <i> HarperCollinsThe trouble with a gardening book that tries to present a month-by-month guide to all New Zealand in 250 pages is that nothing can be covered in depth.

For southern gardeners, sections on tropical and subtropical areas in Judy Horton's Yates Month by Month are irrelevant, although it's nice to dream of popping a few avocados and mangoes into the garden and harvesting ripe fruit a year or three later.

The inclusion of suggestions for tropical gardens reflects the fact that the writer, Judy Horton, is Australian and Yates clearly intends this book to serve New Zealand and Australia. And naturally every imaginable pest and disease is to be controlled with a Yates product.

Yates Month by Month fails not only because of the relevance issue but because the advice for the South Island's temperate and cold climates is not always applicable. For example, gardeners in cold areas, including Central Otago, are told to finish planting spring bulbs in May, much later than the usually recommended February or March.

It is also surprising to see Horton suggesting sowing lettuces in temperate and cold regions in June and July - and in Dunedin, I certainly don't plant potatoes outside in July.

The other major criticism of Yates Month by Month is the layout. Despite a reasonable index, it is not easy to find material, as general topics, such as propagating by layering or sowing seeds, are tucked into individual months.

Rather than spending about $35 on this inadequate book, I'd suggest gardeners buy a nice shrub.

Gillian Vine is a Dunedin gardening writer.