Backyard Vegetable Gardening
By John Pecoraro, Associate Director Support Services
In order to raise awareness of the importance of fruits and vegetable in nutrition, the United Nations has proclaimed 2021 to be the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. June is also National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, the goal of which is to increase the daily consumption of fresh produce. As such, and since we have entered the backyard planting season, this is the perfect time to sample a few of the vegetable gardening books available at your library.
“Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook” is the perfect companion for every vegetable gardener. This book demystifies gardening by demonstrating proven methods for sowing, growing, and harvesting. With plentiful color photographs, and reference tables and charts, this handbook provides step-by-step advice for growing over 30 varieties in any plant hardiness zone.
As its subtitle claims, “Niki Jabbour’s Veggie Garden Remix” presents 224 new plants to shake up your garden. Jabbour introduces vegetable varieties from around the world, providing detailed information on how to grow each plant. She also presents fun facts and plant history. After perusing this book, you’ll be a little more familiar with cucamelons, mizuna, and Jerusalem artichokes, while also expanding your knowledge of tomatoes, potatoes, and greens.
“Growing Good Food,” by author and climate activist Acadia Tucker, is a beginner’s guide to growing herbs, fruits, and vegetables using organic and sustainable practices. She offers advice on preparing and clearing land, and cultivating healthy soil. She also explains how to protect your plants from pests and disease without damaging the environment. In the end the author will teach you how to grow 21 popular perennials and annuals, including fruit trees, herbs, and vegetables, while also describing the climate changes happening in your own backyard.
For the novice with that little plot of ground who doesn’t know where to start, “Growveg: the Beginner’s Guide to Easy Vegetable Gardening,” by Benedict Vanheems is the place to begin. The friendly instructions and step-by-step photographs explain in detail more than 30 small-scale gardening projects. Chapters cover everything from choosing the best location to plant, to starting from seeds, transplanting, and harvesting. For gardeners without a lot of ground, Vanheems presents alternative methods such as growing potatoes in a trash can, carrots in a basket, and chilis in a bucket.
Turkish orange eggplant, rat-tail radish, walking-stick kale, sweetleaf, and fuchsia berry, these are just a few of the out of the ordinary edibles Matthew Biggs explains how to grow in “Grow Something Different to Eat.” In addition to step-by-step instructions on growing some unusual crops, Biggs includes cooking and preserving suggestions. All the plants detailed in this book can be started indoors and transplanted, grown outdoors in the garden, or kept as houseplants.
“The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest,” by Michael VanderBrug demonstrates how to grow your own food in the Heartland. This title focuses on the uniqueness of the Midwest gardening calendar with its month by month format. Perfect for Kansas gardeners. Available as an eBook from Hoopla.
“The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Great Vegetables,” by Lorene Edwards Forkner is another title available for free download on Hoopla. This gardening primer covers 30 of the most popular vegetables and herbs, planting charts for every region, and instructions on what to do in your garden every month of the year. This eBook is bursting with color photographs, and filled with the information budding backyard agriculturalists need.
“Edible Paradise: How to Grow Herbs, Flowers, Veggies and Fruit in Any Space,” by Vera Greutink, is useful both to container gardeners, and those with the space and ambition to start and maintain a garden. Chapters cover everything you’ll need to know from making compost and building raised planters to incorporating flowers with your herbs and vegetables. This work will help you create your own edible paradise on your patio or balcony, or in your yard.
Federal guidelines recommend adults consume 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits and 2-3 cups of vegetables each day depending on age and gender. The results of a recent study indicated that only 9% of adults met those recommendations. Are you part of the 9%? Growing your own vegetables can help you get there, or you can always visit the Downtown Farmer’s Market https://manhattanfarmersmarket.org/.