Vegetable Gardening for Dummies

Even with the long winter we’ve had this year, I am still a little shocked that it’s time to start planning this year’s garden. If you are looking for tips on growing pretty flowers, you will want to find another blog. If I can’t eat the end result, gardening just isn’t worth the hassle for me. However, if you are thinking about growing a few vegetables but aren’t sure where to start, “Vegetable Gardening for Dummies” is a great book.

I discovered this book by accident. The book I wanted from the Library was not where I expected it to be, but this one was in the same section on the shelf. For someone with zero experience or knowledge, this book was outstanding. I still refer to it now, even though I am a lot more competent. It’s a terrific guide to planning, maintaining and using a vegetable garden. My only complaint was that I couldn’t find a copy to purchase – I wanted a cheap, used copy so that I wasn’t fighting over the only copy with every other Dummy with a Library card. I couldn’t even find a new copy, and the only used one available was over $40. For 3 years, I just checked it out two weeks at a time and took lots of notes. When I tried to request it a few weeks ago, I learned that a new edition had come out. I was relieved to get the new version and find that it was just as lovely as the original, and I am looking forward to getting my very own copy soon.

Items of interest for beginners:

  • Gardening on every scale – from pots on your apartment patio to a massive plot at your country estate.
  • All of the factors that go into planning a vegetable garden: choosing a site, choosing the vegetables, determining a source for the plants, preparing the beds, transplanting seedlings, maintaining plants, harvesting mature plants, and more.
  • Lots of depth if you want it – Nardozzi knows his stuff. This book is over 300 pages of solid information. The level of detail is a little astounding, especially for a “Dummies” book. There are very few questions you will have that won’t be addressed.
  • The ability to ignore the depth if you don’t want it – the chapters are clearly defined and logically arranged. Hate peppers? Skip that chapter.  Most chapters have the same organizational framework, so it’s easy to pick and choose which sections will be relevant to you. For example, if you are buying transplant seedlings from your local nursery, you can skip over the discussion of the many different varieties of seeds you can buy for each type of vegetable. Nardozzi uses symbols and notes in the margins to point out information that is more technical and not essential for beginners.
  • Explanations of what the hell the seed packets and plant labels are talking about when they mention “loamy soil,” “frost date,” “seed spacing,” “hill planting,” “side dressing,” and more.

Items of interest for everyone:

  • Each vegetable family has its own chapter, containing an overview of the botanical family or plant type grouping, a detailed listing of the most popular varieties of plants/seeds in the family (14 different sweet bell peppers!), and then detailed instructions for: starting plants, transplanting, maintenance, and harvesting
  • Tips for identifying and managing pests and diseases.
  • Storage methods and helpful tips for making the most of your harvest.
  • Fertilizer explanations and suggestions – what nutrients are needed, sources (both chemical and organic, so you can go either way), and methods.

I’m proud to call myself a Dummy when it comes to this book – if you are wary about getting started with growing your own vegetables, give this a try!


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