This Book Shouldn’t Be a Secret

“My zucchini plants produce flowers, but no squash. Why?”

“Every year my lettuce gets bitter, then blooms. How can I keep it from bolting?”

“I set out my broccoli two weeks before the last frost, when the books tell us to, but it never got big, and it only produced tiny one-inch heads. What did I do wrong?”

“I want to be a better veggie gardener. What book should I read?”

garden-secretsI’d just given a two hour talk on high altitude vegetable gardening, and a crowd of people surrounded me, anxious to ask questions.

Happily, I knew the answers to all those questions. That’s because I’ve read The Book of Garden Secrets. It’s the most helpful book on vegetable gardening I’ve ever read. Since I’ve read dozens of books on growing veggies, this is high praise indeed.

There are several reasons I recommend this book. One, authors Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and Diane E. Bilderback  really know what they’re talking about. Between them, they have degrees in biology, zoology and botany. They aren’t passing along the latest gardening fads—they’re providing solid advice grounded in science.

Of equal importance, they’ve gardened for years in Montana, in a climate similar to, and just as challenging as, ours here along the Front Range. They’ve put their advice into practice with bountiful results. This isn’t just theory they’re spouting.

To me, the best part of the book is that the authors don’t just tell us what to do. They explain why. I too have a biology background and have been gardening for years, but as I read each chapter I learned something new.

The book provides specific information about each crop. For example, Patent and Bilderback don’t just tell you to grow spinach in the fall, they explain the botany behind that suggestion: spinach accumulates chemicals in the leaves that cause it to bolt when they reach critical mass. And the plants will always bolt when exposed to day lengths longer than fourteen hours. In the spring, days are getting longer, so the plants flower. In the fall, as daylight hours shrink, the plants will just produce leaves. You can extend your spring harvest by picking the older, outer leaves, but unless you live in the tropics, you will eventually lose the battle.

If you are already a veggie gardener, but wish to learn more—or if you’re just starting out and want to avoid the common mistakes that frustrate so many gardeners—I hope you’ll read this book.

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