Some Thoughts about Vegetable Gardening
Once in a long time, a truly fresh gardening personality emerges. Over the past 30 years, I've had the privilege of working wit a few of these--Jim Crockett in the 1960s, Dick Raymond and Bob Thomson in the '707s, Louise Riotte in the '80s, Lewis and Nancy Hill in the '90s.
Ed Smith, vegetable gardener, Cabot, Vermont, is the latest of these amazing personalities. He and his family tend a richly fertile garden of over 1,500 square feet filled with raspberries, blueberries, flowers, herbs, and nearly 100 varieties of vegetables, including some Vermont heirlooms. His garden looks like what I envision as the "vegetable garden of Eden."
I never would have learned of, nor met, Ed but for his brother Charly, a Storey staff editor and horticultural expert in his own right. When we were looking for someone who was doing new and exciting things in the vegetable garden, he suggested that we meet his brother Ed.
When we learned that Ed lived in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (where gardening is only slightly easier than in Siberia!), we were skeptical. That is, until we saw his vegetable gardens. They are beautiful, the result of a high-yield system of gardening that Ed has been refining for over three decades. "If I can do it here in northern Vermont, it can be done just about anywhere," said Ed.
The proof was before our eyes, and as we talked, we realized how logical and easy his approach was. To underscore a point, he took us to the richest compost pile I've ever seen. With mock seriousness he instructed, "The path to a high-yield garden leads straight through the middle of a compost pile." Clearly, Ed's no stick-in-the-mud when it comes to gardening.
Wherever we walked, Ed had gardening wisdom to share. At the corn patch he said, "Corn has the highest sugar content early in the morning. So pick it then, before it's warmed by the sun, and refrigerate it in the husk until dinnertime. You'll get the best-tasting corn with the morning harvest." It's true.
When we saw him dusting his seed potatoes with sulfur, he explained that sulfur is a fungicide, but that wasn't the reason he did it. "Treat seed potatoes with sulfur, and Colorado potato beetles will be much less of a problem." I followed his advice, and my new red potatoes were the best I've ever had.
In the pages that follow, you'll see the results of his gardening system with your own eyes. We've come to refer to this system as the "W-O-R-D," to remind us of the wide rows, organic methods, raised beds, and deeply dug soil that underlie everything that Ed does. You'll discover these, along with the trellises that allow beans to grow to the sky, knowledgeable companion planting, and basic crop rotation, all leading to remarkable harvests--a vegetable gardening paradise.
We spent the past year with Ed in Vermont, photographing his gardens from the first day of soil preparation to the last days of putting the garden to bed. These year-round photos will be very helpful to you in planning and planting your own vegetable garden, as will the numerous charts, tables, and garden plans.
We think that this is the most comprehensive and exciting new system of gardening that has come along in a very long time. Through the dozens of illustrated gardening lessons, and hundreds of tips, insights, and suggestions that Ed shares, you'll quickly become a more skilled gardener. This book will help you do it, and have the best vegetable garden ever. That's why we call it "the bible."
And please, if ever you have a suggestion of question, don't hesitate to call (802-823-5810).
M. John Storey