With the economy the world the way it is many are trying to grow some of their own food, frequently for the first time. This saves money, can provide treats that would not be store bought and can be a source of relaxation and personal satisfaction. The problem is how to do it the right way. A growing number of people prefer to grow their crops, even if only a single plant, with methods that avoid the uses of toxic chemicals.  We happen to think that the average person can succeed without spending a fortune on sprays, dusts and other questionable 'aids'.

The book below is from what many consider the main source in the USA for information about producing safe foods well. Even if you plan to use non organic methods there is a lot of information if the book for you. Since the review was written some time back I read through the book again to see if it had stood the test of time. A great deal of the information has done so quite well. Suggestions of other titles to review are welcomed.


by Bob G Cannon II

Rodale is, perhaps, best known for "Prevention" and "Organic Gardening" magazines. Over the past decades they have also published a number of valuable books. Stocking Up! will give you a complete look at how to keep your larder full after harvest, while Improve Your Gardening With Backyard Research belongs in every serious grower's reference library. Growing Fruits & Vegetables Organically, edited by Jean M. A. Nick and Fern Marshall Bradley, is one an offerings from around 2000 and it has something of import for rare fruiters as well as other gardeners. (The late Marian Van Atta is listed as a contributor).
'From Planting to Harvest' (part 1) has a good introduction for a first garden, chapters on improving soils, record-keeping, planting and caring for crops, extending the season and several other aspects of gardening. Chapters on container growing and specialty gardens were informative and make one want to go out and start planting. The information on seed saving and propagation was also full of valuable information.
An important factor in enjoying this work is that while the basic organic beliefs of the contributors are present, they are presented in a non-threatening way. The book isn't "preachy" or designed to twist anyone's arm to make them organic gardeners. (Perhaps it's more insidious as it shows how many others are succeeding at producing less expensive, cleaner food; and how you can succeed as well.) Not that it pulls any punches, the charts and sidebars provide a great deal of information that beginner and experienced alike can utilize.
'The Home Food Garden' (part 2) starts out with detailed instructions for growing particular plants; over two hundred pages of invaluable, specific information. Here is where old standards such as corn, asparagus and beans will be found as well as figs, feijoa, Artocarpus, Eugenia, Macadamia, ginger and other 'rare' fruits. While each plant may not have all the information an experienced grower would want, it's amazing to see so many recognized. When mainstream books start carrying information about our 'rare' fruits they are in danger of becoming popular. (Not a bad thing at all.)
Part 2 also has information for specific regions, sources and great list for further reading. The index is useful as are the many line drawings throughout the volume. As a book for both beginners and advanced, I found it excellent. The only lack was that no mention was made of either the RFCI, or RFCA and that's probably due to their own lack of publicity. At least CRFG gets listed.
Any grower looking for sound information as to ways to produce better plants, and crops, will find much of value here, be they beginner or experienced, organic or not. Recommended for dabblers, serious backyarders and libraries.

I went to the Rodale site and could not find this book listed - which is a shame as there is a great deal of information inside the covers. Fortunately there are used copies available.
Growing Fruits & Vegetables Organically. Jean M. A. Nick and Fern Marshall Bradley, editors. 1994 Rodale Press Inc. 532 pages, indexed, line illustrations, charts. Hardbound 7 1/2 x 9 1/4, ISBN 0-87596-586-5. $27.95 - available from this site.

Find a copy here!

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