52 Weeks in the California Garden by Robert Smaus is the trusty book longtime Angelenos refer to when planting their gardens—it’s as much a handy garden tool as the trowel. Smaus, a former Los Angeles Times garden editor, knows his pittosporum from his paphiopedilum—no question. As for edible plants, he can recommend what to grow at specific times of the year in order to produce a fruitful harvest. (For instance, fava beans and radishes in the fall, basil and parsnips in the spring.) The beauty of the book is that it’s a season to season, month to month, week to week guide to composting, fertilizing, preparing the soil, planting from seed or seedling, and watering. It also indicates what should be planted in full sun or partial shade, the best distance for sowing seeds and setting seedlings in the ground, and when the fruits and vegetables should be ready for picking. Glossy, encyclopedic volumes on gardening may come and go, but this simple, straightforward book is a keeper.