Books for Veg Gardeners (and Cooks, too)

I’ve search the gardening world for favorite new veg-gardening books and have culled the list down to three highly recommended ones.  (And a similar list for books about ornamental gardening is coming next week.)  These books were chosen by reader surveys or by reviewers and garden writer friends who really know the territory.

Grow Cook Eat by Willi Galloway

Considered by many a “Bible for food growers and cooks,” Grow Cook Eat is filled with practical information for both novices and experienced gardeners.  Galloway covers 50 of the best loved, most delicious vegetables, herbs, and small fruits with guides that take readers through planting and growing, harvesting, storing, and finally basic preparation and recipes.

I love the author’s approach to gardening – organically.  It’s not just good for Mother Nature but the best way for readers to become good and experienced gardeners.   Grow Cook Eat is made gorgeous by the photos of professional photographer Jim Henkens, and that’s something we’re seeing less and less of there days.  (What a pity!)

Homegrown Harvest: A Season-by-Season Guide to a Sustainable Kitchen Garden by the American Horticultural Society.

This mega-guide to growing food is as simple and easy to follow as it is exhaustive.   The AHS editors have brought together experts in growing healthy crops for the table – year-round. Specific local and regional advice lets gardeners decide how and what to grow wherever they live in North America.

The book starts with choosing what crops to grow, then how to grow them – in containers, raised beds, etc – – as well as information on how to get the best from your soil.

Then the next 12 chapters lead readers through the growing season, from early spring to late winter, from sowing to harvesting.  I particularly appreciate this what-to-do-now organization.

Tender by Nigel Slater

Slater is well known in the U.K. as a cook and crusader for growing your own food and in Tender he’s written a comprehensive, personal, and visually gorgeous guide to growing and cooking vegetables, with more than 400 recipes and extensive gardening notes.

An instant classic when it was first published in the UK, Tender is a cookbook, a primer on produce, and above all, the author’s homage to his favorite vegetables – 29 of them.  Slater covers extras such as lists of seasonings, accompaniments, and companions for each vegetable, tips on harvesting, and, of course, delicious recipes for “lovely-sounding things,” as one reviewer put it, like A Soup the Color of Marigolds made from carrots and yellow tomatoes. 

The focus is on vegetables cooked with bold flavors, often with the help of Middle Eastern, Thai and Indian seasonings, but always geared toward their seasonality. 

Tender is so witty and charming, it could convert almost anyone to the cause.

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