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The Vegetable Gardener's Bible: Discover Ed's High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions Hardcover – February 15, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

Wouldn't it be lovely to have a patch of corn, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and beans just steps from your kitchen door? Would you like to learn how to control your zucchini plant? Ed Smith, an experienced vegetable gardener from Vermont, has put together this amazingly comprehensive and commonsensical manual, The Vegetable Gardener's Bible. Basically, Ed and his family have been growing a wide variety of vegetables for years and he's figured out what works. This book, filled with step-by-step info and color photos, breaks it all down for you.

Ed's system is based on W-O-R-D: Wide rows, Organic methods, Raised beds, Deep soil. With deep, raised beds, vegetable roots have more room to grow and expand. In traditional narrow-row beds, over half the soil is compacted into walkways while a garden with wide, deep, raised beds, plants get to use most of the soil. In Ed's plan, growing space gets about three-quarters of the garden plot and only about a quarter is used for the walkway. Ed teaches you how to create raised beds both in a larger garden or in separate planked beds. One of the most important--and most often overlooked--aspects of successful vegetable gardening is crop rotation. Leaving a crop in the same place for years can deplete nutrients in that area and makes the crop more likely to be attacked by insects. Rotate at least every two years and your vegetables will be healthier and bug-free. There's also a good section on insect and blight control.

Before choosing what to grow, go through the last third of the book, where Ed takes a look at the individual growing, harvesting, and best varieties of a large number of both common and more exotic vegetables and herbs. Whether you are a putterer or a serious gardener, The Vegetable Gardener's Bible is an excellent resource to have handy. --Dana Van Nest --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A committed organic gardener, Smith is a proponent of staggered planting in raised, wide and deep beds that provide conductive root systems and produce abundant harvests. He explains his system, from optimum siting and soil preparation (he prefers broad-forking over rototilling or double-digging) to companion planting and compost ("The path to the garden of your dreams leads right through the middle of a compost pile"). For beginners, he takes the mystery out of such subjects as hardening off ("like a little boot camp for vegetables") and deciphering the shorthand used in seed catalogues. An abundance of photographs (most of Smith's own garden) visually bolster the techniques described, while frequent subheads, sidebars and information-packed photo captions make the layout user-friendly. The book concludes with an alphabetically arranged listing of vegetables and herbs in which Smith offers advice on every aspect of cultivation, as well as a selection of the most flavorful varieties. Smith doesn't necessarily break new ground here, but his book is thorough and infused with practical wisdom and a dry Vermont humor that should endear him to readers. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (February 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158017213X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580172134
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 1.1 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Edward C. Smith is the author of Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers. He tends a garden of over 1,500 square feet filled with raspberries, blueberries, flowers, herbs, and nearly 100 varieties of vegetables, including some heirlooms, in his home state of Vermont.

Customer Reviews

Great book for gardeners.
K. Davids
This is a must-have book if you garden; it is easy to find information, very well organized, and the explanations and directions are clear.
rural girl
Next year will be our first year with a garden so we're excited to read this book over the winter to prepare.
M. Kearns

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

324 of 330 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on April 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ed Smith is a serious gardener. His approach to vegetable growing is best suited to half acre gardens in the northern areas of the United States. Smith lives and gardens in Vermont and judging by the contents (great photos as well as text) of his book, THE VEGETABLE GARDENER'S BIBLE, I suggest his gardening effort constitutes year-round full-time employment for him. I am a dedicated urban gardener, but one with a less than one-eighth (<1/8) acre plot of land, much of which is covered by a house and driveway. I cannot begin to use most of the material in Smith's book, however, even for urban gardeners like me, Smith provides much useful information.
My experience has shown that vegetable growing in the city has one advantage over growing vegetables in the hinterland...most of the pests that plague the countryside have not moved to town...yet! When I grew green beans on a half acre plot in the country, I fought a daily war with bean beatles. I've yet to see a bean beatle in my urban back yard. On the other hand, the larvae of the Monarch Butterfly found my parsley last year. Smith's section on pests includes something I have not seen in other gardening books..a picture of Monarch Butterfly larvae or Parsley Caterpillers as Ed calls them, munching away.
Smith is an organic gardener so he advises pest control methods that deter unwanted visitors without damaging the larger envirnoment. He also advises moving the Parsely Caterpillar out of harms' way when you battle other insects.
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105 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Erika Mitchell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a reference manual for vegetable gardeners, particularly those gardening in northern climates. The book is organized into 3 main parts: From Seed to Harvest (covering planning, preparing beds, starting seeds, maintaining the garden, and harvesting), The Health Garden (covering soil, compost, and pests), and Vegetables & Herbs, A-Z (alphabetical guide to individual vegetables). The book is amply illustrated with color photographs and illustrations. End material includes zone maps, a list of suppliers, a list for further reading, and an index.

Smith sums up his approach to gardening in the acronym "WORD", which signifies Wide rows, Organic methods, Raised beds, and Deep soil. He's come to this approach after many years of trying many different methods, and found that this method seems to give him the best, most reliable harvest with the least effort. In this book, he explains the parts of the WORD method in detail. For example, he notes that he found rototilling actually to be counterproductive, since it tends to develop a hardpan of packed soil just under the surface. This hardpan limits root growth, which tends to stunt plants. Instead of rototilling, he advocates building deep raised beds, which provide for full root systems and better growth.

The articles in the alphabetical reference section are quite useful. Each includes a brief description of the vegetable, notes on when and where to plant, and notes on harvesting and storing. Instructions are also provided when needed about how to transplant. Each article comes with a quick reference chart that covers sowing (depth, temperature, days to germination, etc.) and growing (temperature, spacing, watering, companions, seed longevity, etc.) Overall, the book is very informative, the text is clear, and the pictures are quite helpful, making the book useful for experienced gardeners as well as beginners.
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136 of 142 people found the following review helpful By Leslie A. Harris on July 24, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
THANK YOU Mr. Smith for writing this book! I couldn't say enough about how helpful it's been to me. Wanting to be careful and do things right, since I'm a beginning gardener, this book tells in simple, everyday language with photos on how to start and keep up a vegetable garden. Here's a list of a few things it covers:

* designing your garden

* insect control

* soil care

* what veges to NOT plant with other veges

* diagrams

* lots of veges and all the info you could want about them

* herb section

* seed companies

* other recommended resources

* and MORE
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116 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Kletsky on July 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The content of this well written book has been covered in other reviews and I agree it is a solid, introductory text at a decent price. However, I find it a little too "coffee table" for my tastes with big type and lots of pretty photos, rather than a lot of breath or depth. If you haven't been introduced to bed gardening and creating a "living" fertile soil, it would be a nice intro, but easy to outgrow (no pun intended).

Notably lacking is content on more than a couple herbs, most salad and Asian greens, as well as some of the less common crops and pest/disease situations that you might encounter. Also, while a prescriptive "how-to" guide, it doesn't educate as to the "why" of things as well as other texts I have read, which let you transfer the techniques to your own specific situations.

I'd recommend picking up a good seed catalog that is at least partially aimed at commercial growers (e.g. Territorial and/or Johnny's) both for cultural and growing suggestions, as well as knowing what cultivars are available (since most of the books are 10-20 years out of date on that), and considering instead:

Golden Gate Gardening: Year-Round Food Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area and Coastal California -- Although written for one geography, both the general information on gardening, as well as the extensive sections on vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers make it a "go to" for me.

Grow Your Own Vegetables -- Great general information on gardening as well as tons of specific information on a very wide range of vegetables.
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