The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, 2nd Edition GIVEAWAY
The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, 2nd Edition is Edward C. Smith’s guide to growing fresh vegetables in your garden using a method designed to produce higher yields in a smaller overall plot. He combines the use of wide rows, organic planting techniques, raised beds and deeper soil to produce results that are quite impressive, especially considering the fact that his vegetable garden grows great vegetables in the tough climate of northern Vermont. The book not only explains the benefits of planting vegetables in wide, deep, raised beds – as opposed to narrow, long beds that are only as deep as the topsoil – it also explains in step-by-step detail how to establish this kind of bed.
The book does not leave it at that, however. Not only does Edward C. Smith explain his revolutionary method for planting the garden, he also explains how to make sure the garden stays healthy above and below ground. He explains how to make sure the soil is vegetable-friendly and how to make compost from kitchen scraps and yard waste so you can add nutrient rich organic matter to the garden. And the book also includes a plant directory that explains the ins and outs of growing a wide variety of vegetables.
1. Book Summary
The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible begins with a discussion about Edward C. Smith’s new method of gardening using wide, deep, raised beds. He explains how he started to discover and develop the method when he first moved to Vermont as an adult. Then he examines how we look at vegetable roots and why it is important to shift our view away from the idea that vegetables will grow well if we only provide enough space for them to grow relatively shallow roots – because many vegetables can grow roots that extend much deeper into the soil and spread out much more widely as well. The first section of the book deals with the methods for getting higher yields from your vegetable garden with les work.
Part two extends the discussion beyond the establishment of a garden that has wide, deep raised beds and presents a thorough examination of the kinds of methods you can use to keep your garden healthy aboveground and belowground. In this section, Edward Smith begins with an intricate and detailed discussion about soil. He explains why soil needs to be rich in nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in order to grow robust vegetables, and then explains how to test and amend the soil to make sure that this is the case. He goes on to teach you how to develop healthy, nutrient rich compost to provide even more nutrients and improve the soil structure.
Part three is an exhaustively comprehensive directory of almost every different type of vegetable you might want to grow in your garden. In this section, every vegetable and fruit from Asparagus to Watermelon is given a thorough treatment on how to best prepare the site for growing it, how to sow it, plant it and how and when to harvest and store it for winter.
2. About The Author
Many years before Edward Smith hit wrote The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, he was already starting to explore the wide world of growing your own vegetables as a young eight year old boy in his parent’s garden. At that time, he was using a very traditional method for growing vegetables. He arranged them in narrow rows that were separated by wide paths.
This was the method his parents used for growing vegetables, and Edward Smith used it also. Every year, this method resulted in what seemed to be a pretty good harvest, and he stuck with it through most of his adult life as well. When he moved to Vermont, he had a new address but still used the same traditional vegetable gardening method of narrow, uniform rows.
At that time, it had not yet occurred to Edward Smith that gardening even could be improved, let alone that it might have needed to be. He eventually met his wife, Sylvia. And when they started their life together, they decided that they were going to do things their own way – in Ed’s words, they “decided to heed the sound of a different drummer.”
They wanted to have a life that was intimately close to the earth, and so they built their home out of wood that had been harvested and milled locally. The electricity and hot water in their home was produced from solar power. And perhaps most importantly, they decided that they were going to grow as much of their own food as they could from their own vegetable garden.
Edward and Sylvia Smith have had a vegetable garden for every year f their marriage, and that works out to more than thirty years of gardens at this point. Their first garden was rather small – it was only 120 square feet. But since then, they have added more and more space to the vegetable garden every year, until it got much bigger – as of the writing of The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible the garden was about 1500 square feet. And as the garden expanded, Edward and Sylvia were able to grow more and more of their own food.
But even as their garden grew bigger, they had other bits of life to deal with – the birth of their children, professional lives, the house to finish and other buildings to take care of, including their woodworking shop, greenhouses and shed. So they needed to develop a way to keep a productive garden that needed less work on their part.
By adopting organic gardening methods, maintaining the fertility of the soil, and nurturing the soil life they were able to ensure that not only they will have a plentiful and healthy harvest but that their children and grandchildren will, too. And this is the whole point of The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible.
For Edward and Sylvia Smith, their garden is not only a source of foot but also a place to sit quietly and enjoy spiritual renewal and close contact with the most basic processes of life.
3. About The Book
Chapter One of The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, 2nd Edition starts off by explaining the reasoning behind Edward Smith’s new way of gardening, using wide, deep, raised beds. He first explains his radical view of roots – that vegetables need to have space to grow deep, spreading roots, which means deeply dug beds. He then explains the importance of raised beds: by establishing raised beds, you have less compacted soil that will drain better and have improved aeration. He goes on to explain why wide beds allow you to grow more in less space with less work. Then he discusses how to situate and build your raised bed. There is a brief section on buying the right garden tools for long term work. Finally, he discusses how to dig deep beds for super high yields.
Chapter Two explains how to plan out your garden and then grow your plan. For Ed, the day he gets his first seed catalog in the mail late in December is the beginning of the end of winter. When he gets his seed catalog, he starts planning out next year’s garden in his head, with a big sheet of paper titled “Garden Plan.” Edward explains how to select a good seed catalog and stresses the importance of getting more than one so you have a wide range to choose from. Once you have your seed catalogs on hand, the next step is to decide what you want to plant, making sure you grow things you will actually eat. The more time you spend planning, the better spent your time will be. Edward also explains things like crop rotation and companion planting in this chapter.
Chapter Three proceeds with a discussion on how to get a head start on your garden. Edward explains how to start seeds indoors so you can artificially extend the growing season and be planting seedlings instead of seeds once the danger of frost has passed. He explains the benefits of using a cold frame to allow plants to grow outdoors before the last frost as well as well into the fall. Greenhouses can allow you to grow certain plants year round, and turn winter into summer. He discusses how and when to plant seedlings outdoors, and finishes out the chapter with a step by step guide to building a trellis for vertical gardening.
In Chapter Four, Edward explains the importance of making your garden as self-sufficient as possible, so that you can get a bigger yield while doing less actual work in the garden. The best harvests with the biggest yields come from plants that have their needs met on time, so you want to follow the advice in this chapter on ensuring steady growth by providing a constant supply of water, nutrients and sunlight. This chapter deals extensively with how to water your garden to yield best results. Edward also discusses how to control for weeds and pests in this chapter. Weeding is all about having the right tool for the job, and pest control is best done by preventative measures.
Chapter Five talks about how to best enjoy the harvest. Once you have put in all of the work of digging wide, deep, raised beds and made sure that your vegetables are getting the proper amounts of nutrients and water, and you have kept weeds and pests at bay all summer long, this is the part where it all pays off. In this chapter, Edward explains how to time your harvest and make sure you are getting the ripest fruits and vegetables out of the garden. He talks about how to extend the harvest so that you are yielding vegetables year round, if you like. And he explains how to store your harvested vegetables in a root cellar or by canning and freezing them.
Part Two of the book is all about how to best ensure that your whole garden is healthy, both above and below ground. Establishing the garden’s wide, deep, raised beds is one thing, but maintaining a garden that is completely healthy all the way through is another thing altogether. Chapter Six starts off part two with a thorough discussion on methods for maintaining healthy soil in the garden. Soil is the medium through which all of your vegetables will receive their nutrients, so making sure that it is as healthy as possible will go a long way to making sure that your vegetables produce big, healthy yields. Edward explains how to test your soil’s pH and amend it to the right range, as well as how to best fertilize the soil. He explains the importance of maintaining soil structure and how you can be helped in this endeavor by introducing worms into the garden.
Chapter Seven is all about compost. And Edward Smith is a firm believer in the power of compost to transform the health and yield in the garden – he calls it “Gardener’s Gold.” Compost, according to Ed, not only provides nutrition and improves soil structure. It also increases the ability of the soil to retain water, contributes to the health of the plants, moderates soil pH, and feeds the microorganisms in the soil. Edward explains how you can recycle yard waste and kitchen scraps by composting, and he teaches you exactly how to build compost that has the perfect balance of green and brown organic matter. He has a step by step guide to building a compost bin to hold your compost pile, and he provides tips for what to do if you are not able to make your own compost.
Chapter Eight is a thorough discussion of exactly how to keep harmful pests out of your vegetable garden. Pests like aphids and slugs can wreak havoc on a vegetable garden, and there is probably no worse feeling a gardener can have than to discover that all of their hard work is for nothing. Edward explains how to control pests the natural way – so you do not have to use chemical pesticides – and discusses preventative measures that can keep your garden free from pests, such as making it a haven for predators that will police your garden for you.
The remainder of the book – Section Three – is called an Index of Vegetables and Herbs, but it is much more than that. Section Three is a comprehensive guide to how to start, grow, and harvest virtually any vegetable you could possibly want to grow in your garden. Starting with Amaranth and continuing for over a hundred pages all the way to Watermelon, this section has detailed instructions for the care, cultivation and harvest of literally dozens of vegetables in between.
I’d like you to pay extra attention to chapter Six. This one, titled “Nurturing Vegetable-Friendly Soil,” is a great example of just how thoroughly Edward Smith explains exactly what you need to know in order to grow a vegetable garden that has the best possible growing conditions to produce big, healthy plants that provide great yields. He explains how you can tell just by looking at your plants which nutrients they might need – for example, discolored leaves can be a sign of a lack of Nitrogen or Potassium. In this section he also explains exactly how to amend the soil in order to correct these problems.
Edward explains everything you need to know about pH as it relates to the vegetable garden, and teaches you how to test the soil in your garden to find out what its pH is. There is a comprehensive table that tells you the right pH range for over sixty different vegetables. Then he explains how you can amend the soil change the pH if it is too acidic or too basic. The rest of the chapter deals with soil structure: first, Edward explains why the soil structure is important to ensure the plants’ roots grow well. Then he explains how worms and other small helpers can improve your soil structure naturally.
4. One Last Word
In my opinion, The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible is a book that should be on the bookshelves of everyone who is serious about producing big, healthy yields from their vegetable gardens. Edward Smith’s system of establishing wide rows, using organic methods, building raised beds and making sure your garden has deep soil is a great one, and if you do apply it to your garden, you can be sure that you will enjoy increased yields at harvest. You will get those results while having to do less work in your garden as well and the garden as a whole will be much healthier and more sustainable over the long term.
Edward Smith writes in an engaging style that is enjoyable to read – you really feel like he is speaking directly to you in The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible. He has been gardening for his whole life, and so he understands the kinds of difficult problems vegetable gardeners come up against. He provides step by step instructions for avoiding those problems and dealing with them when they do arise. And even if the book was just the exhaustive index of how to grow dozens of different vegetables, it would be well worth it.
How To Win This Book
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