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Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving, 2nd Edition [Kindle Edition]

Carol Deppe
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

All gardeners and farmers should be plant breeders, says author Carol Deppe. Developing new vegetable varieties doesn't require a specialized education, a lot of land, or even a lot of time. It can be done on any scale. It's enjoyable. It's deeply rewarding. You can get useful new varieties much faster than you might suppose. And you can eat your mistakes.

Authoritative and easy-to-understand, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving is the only guide to plant breeding and seed saving for the serious home gardener and the small-scale farmer or commercial grower. Discover:

  • how to breed for a wide range of different traits (flavor, size, shape, or color; cold or heat tolerance; pest and disease resistance; and regional adaptation)

  • how to save seed and maintain varieties

  • how to conduct your own variety trials and other farm- or garden-based research

  • how to breed for performance under organic or sustainable growing methods

In this one-size-fits-all world of multinational seed companies, plant patents, and biotech monopolies, more and more gardeners and farmers are recognizing that they need to "take back their seeds." They need to save more of their own seed, grow and maintain the best traditional and regional varieties, and develop more of their own unique new varieties. Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving shows the way, and offers an exciting introduction to a whole new gardening adventure.

Editorial Reviews


"Any gardener interested in vegetable plant breeding must have this book. It is the standard reference. But it is also much more than that. Deppe's grasp of the intricacies of plant life will enlighten food lovers as well as general readers. Thank you Carol Deppe!"--Michael MacCaskey, editor-in-chief,

Review by John F. Swenson, Volunteer--Plant Information Office, Chicago Botanic Garden

There is nothing quite like this book in the world's literature--it is the Hope diamond of horticulture. In the field of edible plants, Carol Deppe is a modest legend who has been a matchmaker and midwife to many new vegetables.

In this book, Ms. Deppe explains how she and a few other masters of plant breeding have achieved their success. She encourages the rest of us to try our hands and hearts--and patience--at producing our own culinary gems. Ms. Deppe, who combines a doctorate in plant genetics with insatiable curiosity and soil-stained hands, will continue to inspire growers to participate in a creative process as ancient as farming itself.

This book is an intense and readable exposition of the science and art of plant breeding, which will inspire and inform any reader. Even the casual reader who doesn't take up the challenge of developing unique garden specialties will become aware of humanity's debt to our predecessors, who turned wildlings into the organisms that can feed all of us. Ms. Deppe deserves a special pedestal in the company of her kindred spirits for this book, a revised version of a work originally published in 1993.



"Deppe invites you on a journey of discovery to reclaim the lost lore of our ancestors, to relearn the traditions of seed-saving and seed-breeding and to take back control of the seed.

Within you will find information not available in other garden books or anywhere else. Learn how to design trials, why and how far apart to isolate varieties for purity, how to understand and appreciate the subtleties of selection and why the detailed artistry of classical plant breeding makes most genetic engineering look like the work of simpletons.

Here is a woman who knows seeds, who knows the ineffable joys working with them brings, and who has penetrated deeply into the mysteries of their inner workings. She can be your guide as you chart your own path to restore and renew a time-honored tradition one experiment at a time."--C. R. Lawn, Fedco Seeds

"The gardening book of the decade." --Ken Allen

"So new and unique that it could truly be called one of a kind . . . [it's] unlike any other book on the market . . . Certain to change the way many growers see the act of gardening."--Don Parker, Publisher, The Growing Edge

"Deppe has done Luther Burbank one better. She has bred many significant new varieties and now has provided the instructions for others to follow her lead. Great Work. Great Book."--Suzanne Ashworth, author of Seed to Seed

In Good Tilth-

“Every serious organic gardener and farmer needs to read this book. Even casual gardeners—in fact, anyone interested in our food supply, whether in its production or its consumption—should find it fascinating and inspiring. No one who reads it will ever look at vegetables or other plant foods in exactly the same way again. Joining Carol Deppe on her plant-breeding adventures throughout these pages is a privilege and a delight. Her mastery of genetics, far-ranging experience and contagious passion in plant-breeding, and wonderful talent for conveying it all through the written word, make her book as unique as her vegetable varieties. The food supply of the future can indeed be flavorful, nutritious, interesting, and sustainable, if we amateur plant breeders learn the lessons she shares.”

About the Author

Oregon plant breeder Carol Deppe, author of The Tao of Vegetable Gardening, holds a PhD in biology from Harvard University and specializes in developing public-domain crops for organic growing conditions, sustainable agriculture, and human survival for the next thousand years. Carol is author of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times (Chelsea Green, 2010), Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, 2nd ed. (Chelsea Green, 2000), Tao Te Ching: A Window to the Tao through the Words of Lao Tzu (Fertile Valley Publishing, 2010), and Taoist Stories (Fertile Valley Publishing, 2014). Visit for articles and further adventures.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5585 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 2nd edition (November 1, 2000)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001F7BFB0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #591,867 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
112 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging and important book February 5, 2001
I fell in love with the first edition of Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, and I am even more delighted with this second edition (published in December, 2000). It is rare to find an author with Carol Deppe's depth of scientific knowledge who is able to distill what is most useful from that knowledge and combine it with a large dose of practical experience. Add to this the fact that Deppe is a captivating storyteller, and you have an informative book that is truly a delight to read.
While Deppe clearly has one foot in the world of genetics and the science of plant breeding, the other she has firmly planted among the peas and squash in her own garden. She relates tales of her garden ventures and introduces you to other adventuresome plant breeders. As you read on, you will find yourself daydreaming about a new variety, perhaps a tomato that would have "real" tomato flavor, be extra nutritious, grow happily in one of your homemade tomato cages, and thrive in your garden. But, as Deppe explains, the only way to get that variety is to breed it yourself. The professional plant breeders won't do it for you. Their attention is focused on a few commercially important food crops, their goal the development of those traits that are of benefit to commercial growers, such as suitability for mechanical harvesting and long distance transport. Deppe's focus is on breeding varieties that, among other things, thrive under organic and/or sustainable growing conditions.
Gardeners and small scale farmers can, and do, breed the varieties they want. Although successful plant breeding doesn't necessarily require a lot of time or garden space, it does require some knowledge---thus, the primary need for this book.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Introduction to Breeding for Beginners February 26, 2006
The author has a PhD from Harvard in biology and is a geneticist. Yet she has written her easy-to-understand book as if she has a teaching degree from Ashland University. Her premise is that all our major food crops were originally developed by amateurs. Until recently, all gardeners and farmers saved their own seed and hence, all gardeners and farmers were automatically amateur plant breeders - and amateur plant breeding was the only kind of plant breeding there was.

Deppe's book has two major purposes: 1) to encourage all of us gardeners and farmers to rediscover the excitement and rewards of developing your very own vegetable variety, and 2) to show amateurs how to breed plants more easily. As Deppe says "Any gardener can do them". This book is for all gardeners everywhere. It's for the gardener who has been told that "you can't grow that here", but who wants to anyway (such as artichokes in Ohio). This book is for growers who like white and purple carrots, and other crosses. This book is for seed savers, which is the first step in plant breeding. This book is for organic gardeners who want to develop powdery mildew-resistant varieties, by breeding them yourself.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suprise!!! This book is fun!!! March 6, 2006
I bought the earlier edition of this book for someone else...had no intention of reading it (or keeping it) but started to browse and got hooked!

This book reads like a novel--all the characters are my near and dear friends, the garden fruits and veggies. Mouth-watering detail sets the stage for getting your imagination started. What would you like to grow that you haven't seen in the seed catalogues? A watermellon that can ripen in your northern climate? Greens that won't be mowed down by slugs in your wet, costal garden? Perhaps a juicy, sweet tomato just like your favorite slicer, but in a convenient cherry size?

Just when you have all these images of the yummy possibilities dancing through your head, the story turns dark...Unfortunately, the professional plant breeders are not looking for the same things you are. Professional plant breeders want thick-skinned tomatoes that can be machine harvested, that ripen all at once, and that store and ship easily. (at this point, I want to yell, NOOO!!! Not THAT tomato!!!)

But sadly, past market forces have inadvertantly destroyed so much of the lovely work of our ancestors to produce flavor, long harvest periods, plants that survive organically, open pollination, and most of all, variety.

But wait! All is not lost! Remember how all those wonderful things came to be in the first place? Amateur plant breeders! And guess what? It doesn't have to take a lot of time, or even much space, to start tweaking and experimenting with what you can get to grow in your own garden. You don't even need experience, let alone a degree. And she's got lots of stories and examples to prove it.

Then she starts throwing out possibilities I never would have thought of...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book, very well written & understandable of the layman
Published 3 months ago by Jim in Texas
5.0 out of 5 stars Very complete with so much information. Especially the different ...
Very complete with so much information. Especially the different slants shown on growing seed organically rather than conventionally. The second edition is much more informative.
Published 3 months ago by Kathleen Connell
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful resource book
I enjoyed the book so much, I purchased three more copies to give to my gardening friends. The breeding concepts really helps a person to understand plant physiology and thus, to... Read more
Published 5 months ago by John F. Reeder
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and down-to-earth
An entertaining and useful book. Even highschoolers can (and do!) breed their own official plant varieties. Why would you want to do that, you ask? Read more
Published 6 months ago by B. Belschner
5.0 out of 5 stars great for getting started
this book is a great one for information on getting started with vegetable breeding and seed saving. informative and well-written. Read more
Published 7 months ago by mwstaal
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I had some weird cross pollinations in my garden. Scratched my head and then bought this book. Thank goodness. Read more
Published 8 months ago by HAC
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what it says it is.
I purchased this because I am interested in both saving seeds and also breeding vegetables. Since the two are closely related I figured I would start with the theory. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. Runaas
5.0 out of 5 stars packed with lots of information
Great book. Well written and full of good information. I would recommend this book to anyone who is I interested in plant reeding.
Published 9 months ago by James D.
5.0 out of 5 stars You can actually create your own varieties after reading this
This is honestly all you need to start selecting strains or even basic hybridizing. Sure, you won't necessarily come up with the next "Sungold" tomato, but hey you gotta... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Cheap and Cheerful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Subject
This is definitely the best book I've ever read on the subject of breeding vegetables. It's easy to understand and contains all the pertinent information such as isolation... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Gene
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More About the Author

Oregon plant breeder Carol Deppe holds a PhD in biology from Harvard University and specializes in developing public-domain crops for organic growing conditions, sustainable agriculture, and human survival for the next thousand years. Carol's new book The Tao of Vegetable Gardening: Cultivating Tomatoes, Greens, Peas, Beans, Squash, Joy, and Serenity will be out from Chelsea Green in January and is available for preorders. Her book The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times (Including the Five Crops You Need To Survive and Thrive--Potatoes, Corn, Beans, Squash, and Eggs (Chelsea Green, 2010) won the Reader's Choice Award for the Best New Gardening Book of 2010, and was selected by as one of the Top 10 Books of 2010 in the Home and Garden category. Her book Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving (2nd ed.) (Chelsea Green, 2000) is considered the standard introduction and reference for plant breeding and more advanced-level seed saving for gardeners and farmers. Carol is founder and owner of Fertile Valley Seeds. For seeds, articles, and further adventures, visit her website


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