Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Beginner's Guide to Growing Great Vegetables by Lorene Edwards Forkner
Published by Rockridge Press on March 16, 2021
Genres: Non Fiction
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Expert gardener Lorene Edwards Forkner shares all the information you need to create a thriving garden, from facts about soil and sun to tips on fertilizing, mulching, and watering. Regional planting charts show what to plant when, and a month-by-month planner takes you from January through December. Profiles of popular edibles explain exactly how to plant, care for, and harvest your bounty. Whether your garden grows in the ground, on a balcony, or in containers on a sunny patio, this is your guide to grow-your-own success.
Picking up bits and pieces of gardening wisdom over the years from family and friends, along with simply learning by trial and error, I’m always up for honing my knowledge. However, the sheer volume of gardening manuals and how-tos out there make selecting the best books to meet my needs anything, but easy. The title and a swift perusal of the blurb had me instinctively reaching for this book and anticipating it would fill in some of my learning gaps or giving me new possibilities to consider without being too big a challenge or a budget issue.
The Beginner’s Guide was methodically put together. It truly assumes the reader is a novice at gardening. It doesn’t rush off into complicated gardening methods and assume the reader will figure a great deal out on their own, but it also doesn’t talk down to the reader, either. The book starts with helping the reader consider their living space to help determine what type of gardening they can consider and consider what results they reader wants, to determine planning their garden size and make up. Once plotting and planning the gardening space is underway, there were discussions about testing soil and depending on the results how to enrich the soil as needed. Following this was consideration for climate and weather patterns which came with helpful hacks to extend northern growing season or protect southern plantings from dry and heat.
Following the soil topic, there were considerations for water sources like having a rain barrel collector to help reduce the amount of metered water used and doing composting to rejuvenate the soil. Also, crop rotation and how certain plants are good neighbors to put into the soil what the other plant needs.
Next, there was the discussion about seeds. A chart about the expiration dates on types of seeds, how to read a seed packet, and what the growing season is on the various vegetables and herbs. There was also a handy discussion about ordering the plantings so that those who could go earlier would be producing right around the time the next group was just starting and leaving time for a second planting of some all occupying the same space. This was particularly helpful to me as I have limited garden plot spaces because of the tall trees around which limit the full sun spots.
The bulk of the book was a growing season calendar, starting with January including what action could be taken, what was needed to prep, and a break down by planting regions (it is specific to US gardening regions). Here in the monthly pages are discussions that correspond with what is being prepped or growing that month. Like, in March there is a discussion of climbing frames because it is a good month to start peas and beans that like to climb. There are discussions about home remedies as opposed to insecticides. In July, there is a discussion about what plants need special attention to keeping their roots cooled and how to help keep heat damage and pest damage to a minimum.
By the end, there is a wealth of knowledge about the traits of the vegetables and herbs themselves. Growing complimentary foods and seasonings and growing to fit needs so there is enough produced and not too much, or that the novice actually planted vegetables they will actually eat and like.
Incidentally, the book’s ideas and implementations are friendly on the wallet. It gives options for various plans and ideas and doesn’t expect the reader to sink a fortune into their new gardening venture. In fact, by the considering questions and options posed, the book can save money with the good advice that lead to a fairly good chance at success and satisfaction.
I know I will be referencing back to this book quite often as I attempt some of the ideas for extending my production seasons, rather than just growing summer vegetables and trying to work the soil by smarter planting and soil enrichment. I’m even convinced it will be okay to grow certain plants in flower beds in front and side of the house and not just the conventional garden plot. I never gave much thought to seed expiration and how to check for viability so I’ve been able to thin out about half the seeds I was keeping until they were gone.
The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Great Vegetables has left me jazzed about gardening and was a well-organized book with wonderful charts, photos, and graphics, good index, and of course that splendid month by month planning guide. I can definitely recommend it to those who are interested, but haven’t started yet and those who are, like me, perhaps long time gardeners though still classified as beginners.
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