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Grow Vegetables
Gardens, Balconies, Roof Terraces, Yards
Alan Buckingham

February 2016 / ISBN 978-1465444868
Nonfiction / Gardening / Health / Nutrition

Reviewed by Leslie C. Halpern


This updated edition of the author's 2008 book (with help from specialist consultant Jo Whittingham) provides instructions for growing more than 80 different vegetables and herbs in various spaces, such as gardens, balconies, roof terraces, and yards. Grow Vegetables is written with general tips for the novice gardener (e.g., tools and equipment are usually pictured and identified) and peppered with specialized advice for those with more experience (e.g., composting suggestions may intrigue those with green thumbs, but intimidate newbies). Overall, these straightforward directions, explanations, suggestions, and beautiful color photographs can help anyone launch his or her own vegetable garden.

The first 52 pages are devoted to "vegetable grower's know-how," which includes all the basics about getting started. Working primarily in plant beds (rather than pots) with seeds (rather than cuttings), vegetable gardeners learn how to adjust for varying climates and terrains. For instance, photos and text help readers determine if their soil is primarily clay, sandy, silt, limestone, or peat, and how this affects fertilization and watering. Additional topics in this introductory section look at tools and equipment, crop rotation, crops in containers, harvesting and storing, and other useful first steps.

From there, chapters explore specific types of crops: cabbage and leaf vegetables, root and stem vegetables, peas and beans, salads, fruiting vegetables, cucumbers and squash, perennial vegetables, and herbs. For example, in the chapter on fruiting vegetables there's a section on sweet corn that includes a full-page photograph of a healthy ear of corn, tips on where to plant, when to plant, how to sow seeds, how to plant out seedlings, routine care, and harvesting, in addition to smaller callout sections with photos and descriptions for planting sweet corn in blocks, and a two-step process for harvesting sweet corn. The corn section concludes with tips on what can go wrong and how to prevent it.

The final two chapters provide a year-long vegetable planner and advice from the vegetable doctor about diseases, disorders, pests, parasites, etc., followed by an index, acknowledgments, and a list of seeds and plant suppliers. Helpful, inspiring, and clearly written, Grow Vegetables should provide readers with the knowledge and confidence to begin or expand their own attractive and efficient personal source of free food right in their own backyards.

Reviewed 2015