Get Started: Growing Vegetables shows new gardeners how to grow and harvest vegetables successfully. It's structured approach and step-by-step instructions start off with simple easy-to-grow crops then progresses to ones that need a little more finesse allowing novices to build upon newly learned skills and develop more.
This is such a good book for learning how to grow vegetables. I'm an experienced gardener and have grown a few herbs through the years with mixed results, but I've yet to tackle growing and harvesting vegetables. This year we plan on putting in a vegetable garden, so I this book couldn't have come at a better time.
The introduction features items on planning, equipment (I learned what a "dibber" is used for), soil types, soil preparation and garden sites before launching into more science-y stuff like the life cycle of plants, the science of photosynthesis, and the science of plant needs, which explains all about the nutrients the plants need. I really liked this last part. While that might not be something I'll thinking about when I harvest my carrots, blueberries or zucchini, it's good to know how those things work and what the plant needs to not only survive, but thrive. Besides, I'm a sucker for trivia; you never know when the information will be useful.
In true DK fashion, the whole book is nicely laid out with lots of pictures that are labelled and explained. It's organized into 3 sections: Start Simple, Build on it, Take it Further. Each builds on the previous one. After outlining the basics in each section a number of projects are presented. That way, the novice gardener can learn some new skills then immediately put them to use. The whole book contains 22 projects to complete and feature a variety of vegetables and fruits for the new gardener to try. The projects themselves are well presented with clear, logical steps with lots of photographs and informative explanations. I love that a time frame is provided so you'll know how long before your crop is ready to harvest.
I loved that the first section starts the novice off with the easiest and most reliable crops to grow. There's nothing more frustrating than planting something, waiting for it to grow, and then have nothing to harvest or show for your hard work. I also loved that not all of the new skills are presented at the beginning of the book. Some of them are presented later on as the reader needs them. This prevents the dreaded "information overload" that novices can experience when learning a new skill or starting a new project.
I was surprised by the number of projects that include containers. In a way, it's good for those that don't have a large expanse of land to dedicate to growing vegetables. These projects would be ideal for those with small yards or those in apartments with balconies. However, I'm wondering if the processes and tips will translate to planting the crop directly in the ground, as I plan to do. I guess I'll find out this summer.
Unfortunately, this book is written in the UK and doesn't cover extremely cold weather temperatures like we experience here on the Canadian Prairies. I know right off the bat that a few of the suggestions just won't work for us. Others I'm not so sure about. I think I'll ask around, perhaps at my garden centre, about these tips. In addition, I'm guessing that the time frames for harvesting will be affected by the differences in weather. That's another thing I won't know until I test it out.
The book also features a couple of kitchen garden plans, which are terrific. I'm loving that they are laid out in squares rather than the old-fashioned/traditional long rows. I'm looking forward to designing my own garden in this fashion.
The table of contents is extensive, yet compact. It lists items in the introductions as well as the skills (how-to) and projects. The index is good and should aid the reader in finding specific items in the book.
Highly recommended. If the other books in this "Get Started" series is half as good as this one, those looking to learn a new skill this year are in for a real treat.
For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit DK's website.
I'd like to thank those nice people at DK Canada for this review copy.
Get Started: Growing Vegetables by Simon Akeroyd, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2013. ISBN 9781465401960(Hardcover), 192p.