The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible

Vermont gardener Edward C. Smith calls his system for growing more and better vegetables “WORD“: W for wide rows; O for organic methods; R for raised beds; and D for deep soil. This may all seem on its face pretty basic, but years of experimentation have resulted in what amounts to a fresh approach to an ancient undertaking. Under the relatively harsh conditions and short growing season in Vermont, Smith found these improvisations on the traditional approach—narrow rows of vegetables planted directly into the soil and separated by wide paths—vastly improved his yields.

Smith does not simply offer a step-by-step system—although he does that, following a year in his garden “from seed to harvest”—he also includes hundreds of tips and insights that make this book well worth its modest price, such as how to judge which seed catalogues are truly useful and the secret to keeping plants alive all winter in an unheated greenhouse (refrain from watering during the coldest months).

Most of Smith's helpful hints are set out in eye-catching sidebars. In addition, almost every page of The Vegetable Gardener's Bible contains at least one illustration—either a full-color photograph or a drawing, or both—to help other gardeners duplicate Smith's methods. A 118-page plant directory at the end of the book gives complete profiles of a vast range of vegetables, from artichokes to turnips. Appendices are devoted to both hardiness and heat zones, suppliers, and further reading.