The Tao of Vegetable Gardening: Cultivating Tomatoes, Greens, Peas, Beans, Squash, Joy, and Serenity

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening: Cultivating Tomatoes, Greens, Peas, Beans, Squash, Joy, and Serenity

by Carol Deppe
The Tao of Vegetable Gardening: Cultivating Tomatoes, Greens, Peas, Beans, Squash, Joy, and Serenity

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening: Cultivating Tomatoes, Greens, Peas, Beans, Squash, Joy, and Serenity

by Carol Deppe


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The Tao of Vegetable Gardening explores the practical methods as well as the deeper essence of gardening. In her latest book, groundbreaking garden writer Carol Deppe (The Resilient Gardener, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties) focuses on some of the most popular home garden vegetables—tomatoes, green beans, peas, and leafy greens—and through them illustrates the key principles and practices that gardeners need to know to successfully plant and grow just about any food crop.

Deppe’s work has long been inspired and informed by the philosophy and wisdom of Tao Te Ching, the 2,500-year-old work attributed to Chinese sage Lao Tzu and the most translated book in the world after the Bible. The Tao of Vegetable Gardening is organized into chapters that echo fundamental Taoist concepts: Balance, Flexibility, Honoring the Essential Nature (your own and that of your plants), Effortless Effort, Non-Doing, and even Non-Knowing. Yet the book also offers a wealth of specific and valuable garden advice on topics as diverse as:

•    The Eat-All Greens Garden, a labor- and space-efficient way to provide all the greens a family can eat, freeze, and dry—all on a tiny piece of land suitable for small-scale and urban gardeners.

•    The growing problem of late blight and the future of heirloom tomatoes—and what gardeners can do to avoid problems, and even create new resistant varieties.

•    Establishing a Do-It-Yourself Seed Bank, including information on preparing seeds for long-term storage and how to “dehybridize” hybrids.

•    Twenty-four good places to not plant a tree, and thirty-seven good reasons for not planting various vegetables.

Designed for gardeners of all levels, from beginners to experienced growers, The Tao of Vegetable Gardening provides a unique frame of reference: a window to the world of nature, in the garden and in ourselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781603584876
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Publication date: 01/30/2015
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Oregon plant breeder Carol Deppe, author of The Tao of Vegetable Gardening, holds a PhD in biology from Harvard University and specializes in developing public-domain crops for organic growing conditions, sustainable agriculture, and human survival for the next thousand years. Carol is author of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times (Chelsea Green, 2010), Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, 2nd ed. (Chelsea Green, 2000), Tao Te Ching: A Window to the Tao through the Words of Lao Tzu (Fertile Valley Publishing, 2010), and Taoist Stories (Fertile Valley Publishing, 2014). Visit for articles and further adventures.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

1 Honoring the Land 1

Gardening in Nature's Image

But Which Nature and Which Image?

Has Nature Thought of Everything?

On Being a Member of a Keystone Species.

Organic and Beyond.

2 Honoring the Essential Nature of the Plants 11

Sun, Earth, Air, Water, Warmth.

What Can We Grow?

Expected First and Last Frost Dates.

Sun and Shade Tolerance.

Some Like It Hot; Some Like It Cold.

When to Plant Everything.

Planting Guide.

3 Honoring Your Own Essential Nature 21

Discovering Your Inner Gardener.

Planning Versus Spontaneity.

Structure, Labor, and Freedom.

4 Flexibility 27

Choosing Gardening Styles and Methods.

Getting the Most from the Small Garden.


How to Eat a Weed- Dandelions, Lambsquarters, Purslane.

The Prepper's Garden.

5 Balance 43

Grand Versus Prosaic.

How Much Garden?

Limiting Factors.

Too Much Tilling.

Too Much Watering.

Too Much Fertilizer.

Too Many Pests.

Knowing When to Stop.

6 Non-Doing 59

Daring to Not Do.

On Not Tilling, Digging, Mowing, or Tending Absolutely Everything.

Twenty-Four Good Places Not to Plant a Tree.

Seven Reasons Not to Chop Down a Tree.

Thirty-Seven Reasons for Not Planting Various Vegetables.

On Not Planting Purple Flowers in Front of an Orange Brick House.

Flower-Patterned Shirts Attract Bees.

A Weed by Any Other Name Is Usually Still a Weed.

7 Beginning-Tomatoes 71

Begin with Something You Really Love.

Tomato Kinds and Colors.

Flavor Favorites.

Thirty Interesting Open-Pollinated Tomato Varieties.

Starting Tomatoes from Seed-Growing Transplants.

Potting Soil for Germinating Seeds and Starting Transplants.

Preparing the Ground.

Hardening Off and Planting Transplants.

Do Carrots Really Love Tomatoes?-Garden Woman Adventures.


Supporting and Nurturing.

Watering and Mulching.

Why It Will Soon Be Impossible to Grow Our Current Generation of Heirloom Tomatoes and What to Do About It

Late Blight 101.

Dealing with Late Blight.

Late Blight Resistant Hybrid Tomato Varieties.

Late Blight Resistant Heirloom and Open-Pollinated Varieties.

Why the Best-Flavored Tomato May Not Be the One That Is Picked Vine-Ripe.

Using Green Tomatoes.

8 Nurturing-Weeding 111

Avoid, Delay, Remove.

Garden Woman Meets Pigweed with Attitude.

The American Square Hoe.

Buying, Using, and Sharpening the Peasant Hoe.

Buying, Using, and Sharpening the Coleman Hoe.

Stirrup Hoes.

Wheel Hoes.

Electric Wheel Hoe and Electric Tiller.

9 Non-Knowing-Squash 127

Adventures in Ignorance.

The Perfect Polyculture-Squash and Overwintering Kale.

'Candystick Dessert Delicara' Squash.

'Lofthousc Landrace Moschata' Squash.

Apologizing to a Squash.

Butternut Squash Cookery.

Planting by the Moon.

Talking to Your Plants.

True Understanding.

10 Effortless Effort-The Eat-All Greens Garden 151

The No-Labor Garden-Just Sow and Harvest.

The Nutritionally Most Important Home Garden Crop.

Leaves Versus Heads or Stems.

The Essential Role of Cooking.

Using Greens in Soups and Stews.

The Mess o' Greens.

Harvesting and Handling Eat-All Greens.

Freezing Eat-All Greens.

Dried Greens and Herbal Teas.

Lactofermenting Greens.

Growing Eat-All Greens.

Eleven Great Eat-All Greens Varieties.

11 Peas and Beans 181

Nitrogen Fixing and Legumes.

Dry Seeds Versus Edible Pods Versus Green Seeds.

Pea Vine Types and Support.

Shelling Peas.

Edible-Podded Peas.

Growing Peas.

Presoaking Legume Seed Without Suffocating It.

Keep Peas and Beans Picked.

Harvesting and VJsing Edible-Podded Peas.

Kinds of Bean Varieties-Green, Dry, Shelly.

Pole Versus Bush Green Beans.

Seed Color and Green Bean Flavor.

Supporting Pole Beans.

Growing Beans.

Growing Pole Beans on Corn.

Harvesting and Using Green Beans.

12 Joy 201

Jumping for Joy.

On Carrying Vegetables.

Weeding Meditation.


Simple Pleasures.


13 Completion-Seeds 209

Cycles and Circles.

The Do-It-Yourself Seed Bank.

You Will Not Fall Off the Edge of the Earth If You Don't Save All Your Own Seed.

Preparing Seed for Long-Term Storage.

Containers for Storing Seed.

Eight Seed-Saving Myths.

Creating Your Own Modern Landraces.

Rejuvenating Heirloom Varieties.

Breeding Crops for Organic Systems.

Dehybridizing Hybrids-Disease-Resistant Tomatoes.

Tomato Genes and Genetics.

Breeding the Heirloom Tomatoes of Tomorrow.

Appendix. Seed Companies and Sources 245

Index 249

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