Garden Books

It’s Vegetable Gardening Time


The weather is now warm enough for any vegetable to flourish. Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash. peppers and lettuce will soon garnish garden rows and pots.

Whether you are a novice or an experienced gardener, an informative book to browse is Gardening for Geeks (CompanionHouse Books, 2020) by Christy Wilhelmi.

Gardening for Geeks bookThe appeal for geeks is in the many interesting details included in her gardening instructions, charts, and boxed “geeky garden tips.” Advice from her blog,, and from the classes she teaches in Los Angeles form the basis of Wilhelmi’s book.

Wilhelmi explains the fundamentals of organic gardening, everything from improving soil to planting seeds and harvesting the crops. She includes instructions for constructing raised beds, creating worm bins, building plant trellises, and cages. All the necessary information is provided on growing herbs and vegetables from arugula to watermelon. As an extra perk, Wilhelmi concludes the book with unique recipes for preparing the vegetables.

Wilhemi’s chapter on seeds offered to me some of the book’s most interesting information. Here she clearly explains the difference between natural and hybrid seed types. Any seed existing before the hybridization processes began in the 1950s is considered an heirloom. Open-pollinated seeds are those that result from new plants that emerge through the natural mixing of pollen by insects, wind, or birds. These two types will reproduce the same plant year after year.

Hybrid seeds are not self-reproducing. These seeds are genetically altered to generate specific characteristics such as changes in color or size of plants. The controversial GMO hybrid seeds are those containing such modifications as the creation of their own pesticide or resistance to weed killers.

Although Wilhelmi’s book briefly mentions growing vegetables in pots, a book like Container Vegetable Gardening ( CompanionHouse Books, 2019) by Liz Dobbs more clearly explains the do’s and don’ts of this type of gardening.

Container Vegetable Gardening bookDobbs begins by discussing the pros and cons of various pot types by comparing their cost, durability, weight, and attractiveness. She then explains where and how to plant a myriad of herbs and vegetables in the containers. The choice of seeds or transplants, required light, proper spacing between plants, and the advice for size and type of the container are listed for each vegetable.

The book’s section featuring numerous suggestions for combining flowers, herbs, and vegetables into attractive arrangements was the most useful to me. Hints for adding plants such as basil, thyme, and peppers to cover the bottom of gangly tomato stalks will improve this summer’s view across my sunny deck.

Regardless of wherever you plant, the garden will provide a source of delight and edibles for your family during the coming months. Either location can offer equal pleasure this fall and winter if replanted regularly and with the proper vegetables. Enjoy the bounty of different seasons with tasty, fresh home-grown vegetables covering your table.

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.

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