Growing your own vegetables is easy, but you need to know a few tricks to get started. The backyard vegetable garden and family farm started to disappear in the 1800's when the industrial revolution helped to create large cities, with jobs at factories and manufacturing facilities. You can keep up the tradition of a backyard vegetable garden with the help of a few good books on the subject.
How to Grow More Vegetables
Subtitled... "than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine," this 1974 book by John Jeavons revolutionized the way many people prepare garden spaces and grow vegetables. It has been through many editions and has been updated to keep it current over the years. Promoting a method of garden bed preparation called the French intensive bio-dynamic method, Jeavons explains how to double dig the soil with organic compost and other amendments, making the area far more productive than would be possible with more traditional methods.
This 1998 book by Patricia Lanza takes its tone from an old permaculture technique called "sheet composting." When you practice this method of soil preparation, you lay sheets of cardboard or newspaper on top of scrappy soil--it can be covered with weeds or even lawn, and the paper will cause them to die. On top of that, you pile layers of organic materials, such as compost, peat moss, grass clippings, wood chips, sawdust, leaves, straw, kitchen waste--whatever you have on hand. It immediately creates a rich environment for growing vegetables and saves the busy gardener many back-breaking hours of digging up an area and digging in soil amendments.
Vegetable Gardening For Dummies
The "Dummies" series by Hungry Minds Publishing includes several books on gardening. Like all of their titles, this one by Charlie Nardozzi spells out clear, simple steps even a "dummy" can follow to create, plant and maintain a vegetable garden. "Vegetable Gardening For Dummies" also helps to make gardening fun for the novice gardener and includes instructions on how to grow both mainstream veggies like tomatoes and zucchini, as well as less usual crops, such as daikon radishes and kabocha squash.
Square Foot Gardening
Author Mel Bartholomew updated his classic book, "Square Foot Gardening," in 2006 with a new and improved edition titled "All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More In Less Space." Bartholomew, an engineer by training and weekend gardener, used his technical knowledge to devise a method for producing a bountiful vegetable harvest using only 20 percent of the space that would be needed if you used other methods. Additions to this edition include a formula for a new soil mix that never requires fertilizer, how to construct bottomless boxes in which to grow your veggies, seed saving tips and lots of new and improved photographs.
Blue Potatoes, Orange Tomatoes
Rosalind Creasy helped many people climb out of the box of hybridized vegetable varieties with her 2000 book that is primarily aimed toward children aged six through nine. The principles she espouses are valuable lessons for gardeners of all ages: the book promotes the re-discovery and growing of heirloom varieties of vegetables that have been forgotten or even lost because of modern advances in hybridization. It's a great book for teachers and parents to use with their young charges to help them become aware of Mother Nature and the many wonderful plants that she has created, all without laboratories, scientists or chemicals.