Everyday Gardeners

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Bumper Crop


It’s hard to miss a “trend” when it’s staring you smack-dab in the face. Literally. Over the past couple of weeks, new edible gardening books have been piling up to the ceiling on my desk. Not such a big surprise when you consider that—according to a survey conducted by the Garden Writers Association Foundation—7.7 million American households grew a vegetable garden for the first time in 2009. The total number of U.S. vegetable gardening households was 41 million. When asked if they planned to continue their garden for this year, 37% of households reported plans to increase their edible gardens. So, in the spirit of the frenzy, I’ll rank my favorites of some 16 new books in order of preference (I’ve left out the books exported from Great Britain or Australia—not that there’s anything wrong with that):

1.  Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens by Barbara Pleasant (Storey; $19.95). Really cool, accessible book with strong graphics and lively writing from a really wonderful garden writer. Best of the bunch.

2.  Eat Your Yard! Edible Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Herbs, and Flowers for Your Landscape by Nan K. Chase (Gibbs Smith; $19.95). This author is new to me, but this clever book tackles everything from apples to yuccas in chapters that include cultural information as well as tasty recipes.

3.  The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith (Storey; $24.95). This is the “fully updated 10th anniversary edition. Full disclosure: I blurbed the original while I was an editor at Country Living Gardener, so I’ll include my back-jacket plug here: “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible is an impressive accompishment by a seasoned expert. It is destined to become dog-eared in the potting shed.”

4.  Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs: A Bountiful, Healthful Garden for Lean Times by Jim Wilson (Creative Homeowner; $16.95). Sage advice and a labor of love from a veteran horticulturist I’m glad to call my friend.

5.  Edible Heirlooms: Heritage Vegetables for the Maritime Garden by Bill Thorness (Skipstone; $18.95). Despite its diminutive size, this compact but informative book collects 26 edible plants best suited to West Coast gardens in a charming package.

6.  Small-Plot, High-Yield Gardening: Grow Like a Pro, Save Money, and Eat Well From Your Front (or Back) Yard 100% Organic Produce by Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan (Ten Speed Press; $18). Love the 10 garden plans included that will help turn a postage stamp-sized plot into an all-organic multi-crop bonanza.

7.  Alluring Lettuces and Other Seductive Vegetables for Your Garden by Jack Staub (Gibbs Smith; $16.99). This book features profiles of 75 “lusty plants”, including history and cultural information, accompanied with charming illustrations.

8.  Tomatoes Garlic Basil: The Simple Pleasures of Growng and Cooking Your Garden’s Most Versatile Veggies by Doug Oster (St. Lynn’s Press; $18.95). Part memoir and part cookbook, this is a must-read for tomato-lovers.

9.  Homegrown Whole Grains: Grow, Harvest & Cook Wheat, Barley, Oats, Rice, Corn & More by Sara Pitzer (Storey; $14.95). This North Carolinian thoroughly explains how to convert part of your yard into fields of golden grains to enjoy at the dinner table.

10. Raised-Bed Vegetable Gardening Made Simple by Raymond Nones (The Countryman Press; $15.95). Raised beds mean more production in less space and with less work…and this author should know: He gardens in New York City.

One Response to “ Bumper Crop ”

  1. Hi, it’s me. You had a nice review of my new book, Eat Your Yard, and wanted to let folks know about the new web site. Keep up the good work of sharing all the new titles. Nan

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