Top positive review
60 people found this helpful
Interesting book that teaches you and makes you want to garden.
on March 11, 2012
This book starts out letting you get to know the author somewhat. I think that this is appropriate, as his love of vegetable gardening and heirloom varieties permeate the pages of this book. Besides containing information on how to garden, this book actually makes me want to garden.
To address concerns you may have after reading other reviews: Yes, the first part is a biography of the author, some of his adventures, and where he is coming from both philosophically and geographically. It is probably shorter than it could be, but does take up about 42 pages out of 228. I found this section a fun and interesting read, and a great way to connect with the author. You may or may not enjoy it, but I do not feel that the rest of the book suffers due to this longer biographical section.
Yes, there are a lot of pictures, mostly of vegetables, to show the uniqueness and diversity that heirloom vegetables have to offer. If you have ever seen the magazine or catalog that Baker Creek puts out, their use of photography is similar in this book to those other publications. Personally I enjoy all the pictures of vegetable varieties that I may not have seen before.
The sections on how to garden make up about 30 pages total. There is enough information to get you going, with ideas for variations based on your particular gardening situation. I think that there is a lot of information here, but certainly not everything is covered. There are books that cover with much more depth areas such as pests, pest management, plant nutrition, etc. While that can all be valuable information when you need it, sometimes throwing it at a novice gardener can leave them feeling overwhelmed. So yes, there could be more information here, but I think that these few chapters are great. Some of the details not listed here are actually listed per vegetable in the next section.
The real gem of this book is saved for the second half (and takes up well over half of the book.) There is an A-Z guide to vegetables, with a lot of information on each one. Each vegetable is introduced with a nice picture and a bit of history. For each one, you get additional growing tips, pest information, seed saving instructions, and even a couple of kitchen ideas. Whoever thinks that this book doesn't tell you how to save seed did not look in this section. What is interesting is that you will find yourself actually reading each section here, even for vegetables with which you are already familiar. This compendium does a good job of being informative while still holding my interest as a reader. Use Amazon's "look inside" tool, search for a vegetable,and you will see what I mean.
I like that this book isn't too regional in its approach. This way, the information in here is equally applicable to people all over the country. When I need more specific information on local planting schedules or other concerns for my area, I turn to either the newspaper or publications from the county's agricultural extension (and if Las Vegas has these resources available, your area probably does too.) The page or two of regional information that I have found in other gardening books has never been too helpful, so I don't bemoan its absence here.
Overall, I think that this is a very good book, an enjoyable read, and something that reignites my passion for gardening. It is an excellent reference, and I think this may be the new book that I give people as a gift to start gardening.