I’ll keep this brief as we are, given the considerably damp weather and forecast, undertaking a not-small home reno project in the hours after work (I’m “essential”, so no shelter in place or WFH for me during the work week) so time is short for things like writing!

I’ve got a handful of coworkers that are (driven by what I suspect is a spot of fear and a desire to try to regain control- or attempt to- over something, anything!) suddenly interested in vegetable gardening. I’ve happily been doling out bits and bobs here and there, but today it reached a critical mass when it became glaringly obvious that one (very, very well educated) individual wasn’t doing any research or learning on their own, but rather religiously mining me for information (not tips or help, like, a full tutorial on how to grow potatoes in containers with about 15 “but why?”s thrown in).

I believe my direct quote was “You need to read a book.”

I stand by my rather blunt retort and I sent along my recommendation for an easily accessible but also beautiful and jam-packed with information favorite:

The Complete Gardener by the steadfast Monty Don. (Amazon link, $28.50 paperback)

Image result for the complete gardener

What I need to know is, if you were in the same position and had to recommend just one book to someone who wanted to learn to grow some vegetables, which one would it be?

I can’t wait to read your recommendations! Now, I’m off to relocate the contents of not one, but two bookshelves. Stay safe, stay 6 feet apart, and wash your hands! -xo

6 thoughts on “Recommendations.”

  1. That depends on the climate of the person who wants info. Dee Nash’s 20-30 Something Garden Book eases you into vegetable gardening very slowly (a good thing imho) and is suitable for most of the country. But for cold climate gardeners such as live in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or the North Country of upstate NY, I would steer them to Niki Jabbour’s Year-Round Vegetable Gardening, and if they really want to geek out, Fresh From the Garden by Whitman. You know I love Monty, but his climate is so mild that a lot of his advice just won’t help a newbie gardener living in Wisconsin. I admit I don’t have The Complete Gardener, just Down to Earth and Gardening at Longmeadow. He talks about vegetable gardening in both, and I find myself mentally adjusting his advice for our more challenging conditions. The Brits have different vegetables (purple sprouting broccoli) and different names for the same vegetables (aubergine). They need to grow tomatoes in greenhouses and start corn indoors and transplant out. They grow some vegetables in the open ground through the winter, which is not going to happen in northernmost North America. Monty is great for expanding a gardener’s knowledge of how it’s done in other places and climates, but he’s not my first choice for someone just getting started in a pretty darn cold climate.


    1. Those are some great recommendations! I wish I had posted this before I told him to read a book! I confess to not having any of those books in my arsenal so I’ll plead a bit of ignorance. I did give express instructions (and a handout!) to clearly ID the appropriate planting dates and I do feel like the person in question is capable of discerning the differences (aubergines vs. eggplant) and knows that tomatoes can be grown outside. The book has good foundations for how to plant things and what those plants need that apply anywhere and I found it quite helpful when I was just a newbie! I’ll be sure to pass on your recommendations as well though- thank you!


  2. Funny story. I googled Britbox and “Gardeners’ World” because under the current circumstances I was contemplating a new channel subscription to pass some newly redirected time. Your site was the first hit. I hadn’t thought I was the only non-Brit with a strong attachment to Monty Don (bopping from the Netflix offerings to “The History of British Gardening” that had been posted online-not in compliance with relevant copyright law, I know,) but it was fun to see someone else enthusing about Don’s work (and crisis baking right now). Anyway, between teaching writing to college-students with history of gardening curriculum and working with my husband on a plot in Birchwood, WI, I became a devoted fan of GW (love MG’s instagram feed too) and thanks to you figured out that Britbox would help me out. So, yes, MG gardens where they don’t even have hardiness zones, but the general principles are sound (right plant, right place; don’t be afraid to cull and move plants; learn to propagate by roots and sow your own darn seeds in addition to buying plants). We are mostly developing a fruit tree orchard (its own odyssey of pest trouble and freeze outs), but like everyone else I have decided to add some new vegetables to our usual pie pumpkin and melon routine. Thanks for being a gardening sibling in the Chippewa Valley. I have subscribed and look forward to seeing how the gardening year goes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a small world! Welcome! I hope your adventures in new-veg gardening this year goes well and that you enjoy BritBox too- we love it and it is so much easier than the usual illicit ways we used to get our Gardener’s World fix!


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