If the quarantine tweaked your interest in gardens, you are not alone. Everyone with a bare yard or a sunny deck must have tried growing either a vegetable or a flower. As a result, garden companies posted substantially increased sales of seeds, deer fencing, and plants during this unique season.
For new gardeners, planning and planting vegetables can be a frustrating learning experience. Kitchen Garden Revival (Cool Springs Press, 2020) by Nicole Johnsey Burke is an excellent source of information for creating a new plot or for improving established gardens. Burke’s company, Rooted Garden, Inc., has installed hundreds of vegetable gardens as she and her family moved around the United States. Burke’s involvement with clients and teaching inexperienced gardeners has contributed to her book’s inclusion of precise, necessary details.
The book begins with the author providing new gardeners with a reality check. She offers estimates of the dollar cost to create gardens of certain sizes as well as how much time weekly is required to keep the gardens productive. She also suggests that home gardens should be installed for pleasure and for access to the freshest vegetables, not for expecting ample savings on food costs.
If not discouraged by this information, the rest of the book will clearly assist new and experienced gardeners. Lists of required tools for garden projects, designs for garden styles, recipes for soil mixes and instructions to construct raised beds are only a few of the helpful activities presented for establishing a garden.
One of the book’s most interesting topics deals with choosing plants for a well-designed garden. According to Burke, knowing a plant’s botanical family will greatly simplify the choices for planting. If one plant family member will grow well in a plot, its kinfolks will probably display the same success. To support this premise, Burke introduces the most common vegetable families and points out the similarities in each member‘s growth requirements. Burke uses these botanical family names in broadly referring to member vegetables throughout the remainder of the book.
In describing the best way to plant and harvest these vegetables, Burke offers advice aimed particularly for beginning gardeners. She recommends purchasing plants and seeds raised for your particular area. These items are more commonly sold at locally-owned nurseries than at big box stores.
Pruning plants of excessive stems and leaves is proclaimed as a way to increase fruit production, especially with tomatoes. Ways to protect plants from weather variations, insects, and those pesky mammals are also suggested. For the unsure harvester, Burke simplifies determining the time to pick various vegetables by suggesting ripened sizes of the desired leaf, pod, or fruit.
Burke’s book is filled with witty, easily-read information. The facts are intermixed with humorous stories of her mistakes while attaining her self-taught gardening expertise. If this book increases your curiosity about the trials, tribulations, and joys of gardening, enroll in one of the several courses Burke teaches at her website, Gardenary, Inc.
Christine Thomson is a Raleigh gardener obsessed with plants. She is a volunteer at the JC Raulston Arboretum and fills her spare time reading books, especially volumes about vegetation.