I’ve been getting a lot of really great questions from my friends about their plans to start a vegetable and/or herb garden this year.
I’ve had my own vegetable garden since I was old enough to hold a small shovel–my own little plot within my dad’s huge garden (thanks dad!) where I’d grow carrots or lettuce and maybe even a tomato plant. Quite a few years later my plot isn’t much bigger–not for lack of desire, but more because of the price of land in Toronto, and my need for a lot of perennial and shrub growing space.
So, while I have a pretty good grasp on the basics of vegetable gardening, there’s a lot I don’t know. I’m always happy to chat about gardening with newbies, but I spend a lot of time asking questions of more experienced gardeners, looking things up on the internet, and reading.
The most useful gardening book I’ve found concerning vegetables is one called small-plot, high-yield gardening by Sal Gilbertie & Larry Sheehan (Ten Speed Press, 2010).
I ran across it listed on the Garden Rant blog last year, took it out of the Toronto Public Library, and then liked it so much I put it on my Christmas gift list (and Santa showed up with it!) It’s a really useful and well-organized book, containing the type of practical information that both novice and experienced gardeners will benefit from. In fact, they will often temper their advice on certain topics by saying that your first year of gardening you should do this (e.g. buying your plants already started from a nursery) and then in a few years, once you have the experience, you can move onto this (e.g. starting plants from seed, and this is show you do it) if you wish to.
The authors present several sample garden layouts, to help you maximize your space and sunlight. The book is well organized, with a handy index, and it’s not very expensive, considering the wealth of knowledge contained between the covers.
If you’re keen to start a veggie garden this year I recommend spending the next month reading small-plot, high-yield gardening. You’ll need to wait at least that long (at least in Toronto) before you put your tomatoes out.