About the Author
Kathryn Wadsworth’s skill as an author and naturalist illuminates the connection between gardens and nature. She has led eco-tours to wilderness areas around the world and served as executive editor of research journals. She has appeared with David Deardorff on numerous radio shows including Martha Stewart Living Radio, Growing a Greener World, Real Dirt, and Gardening with Ciscoe. Join them at kathrynanddavid.com, on Twitter at @KBWandDD, or on Facebook at @david.deardorff.108.
Read an Excerpt
Introduction. Prepare for Success This book is all about growing healthy, organic vegetables at home, something that more and more of us are doing these days. We seek the satisfaction of nurturing amazing plants that become our platter of gourmet vegetables. We crave that moment when the flavor of a freshly picked tomato explodes in our mouths. Above all, by growing our own food, we know it is safe, clean, and chemical-free. But we don’t wish to waste time, energy, and money getting our “locally grown” vegetables. Here’s the simple truth—the most effective way to grow healthy food in our own yards is to create gardens that replicate nature. By gardening in concert with the natural world, we garner many rewards. We profit from mutually beneficial transactions with the other creatures on earth. From the earthworm that enriches the soil to the bee that pollinates our crops, wild creatures work hard for our benefit. In return, let’s provide them with a safe and healthy habitat. Creating an intact, albeit artificial, ecosystem that functions the way a natural ecosystem does just makes sense. Nature is the silent partner who makes your garden work. And this book will help you to enjoy the bounty. Following this Introduction, we present plant portraits of popular vegetables in alphabetical order. Each plant portrait gives you all the information you need to grow that beautiful, sumptuous vegetable and its kin: a description, including growth habit; information on the plant’s season; temperature, soil, light, and water requirements; and best garden uses and planting techniques. This part of the book helps you decide which plants you can grow, and how to plant them, as well as guiding you in their proper care. Finetune your choice of cultivar by having a look at the Appendix. In each portrait, we stress the polyculture approach, where each plant’s nearest neighbor is different from itself. This is one of the most important things you can do to keep your plants pest- and disease-free. In the polyculture garden, pests have a difficult time finding their vegetable of choice, and diseases have trouble spreading from plant to plant. If pests or diseases are already visiting your favorite vegetable, consult the Family Problem-Solving Guides. Each vegetable portrait directs you to the proper one. These visual guides will help you identify and eliminate pests and diseases in the garden. We supply you with a photograph of the problem, symptom descriptions, diagnoses, and page numbers to find solutions. The final part of the book, “Organic Solutions to Common Problems,” presents in detail every solution listed in the problem-solving guides. Here you will learn how to change growing conditions to solve problems, and be introduced to organic techniques and remedies for garden pests and diseases, from deer to fungi. We urge you to use organic solutions and remedies for growing condition, pest, and disease challenges for three reasons. First, organic remedies are just as effective as synthetic ones. Second, we want everyone to have access to healthy, affordable, chemical-free food. And third, we want to protect and enhance the natural ecosystems that surround us. What works in nature will work for you.