Monday, June 11, 2012

Lemon Verbena Lady's Book Review for Timber Press-What's Wrong With My Vegetable Garden? by David Deardorff & Kathryn Wadsworth

My next book review for Timber Press is called What's Wrong With My Vegetable Garden? by David Deardorff & Kathryn Wadsworth.  This book brought me right back to the days that I volunteered as a Penn State master gardener answering the public's questions on Gardenline.  I wish I had had a copy of this book back then, but certainly glad I have it now.  This book is all about being organic, but it does have chemical solutions if the problem is beyond the beyond as far as control.  I liked having all of the solutions from least toxic to most in one place.

In the INTRODUCTION called Prepare for Success, Deardorff and Wadsworth talk about four essential physical factors for success in the vegetable garden (or any garden as a matter of fact):  temperature, soil, light and water.  Each has a related problems chart that shows photos of the most common problems with symptoms and diagnoses and cross-referenced solutions.  Love those cross-references and charts!

Then the authors talk about 50+ vegetables for the garden in Plant Portraits.  Each has a two page concise description which includes a Family Problem-Solving Guide for each veggie.  They discuss, season, temperature, soil, light, water, garden uses and planting techniques and problem-solving of each vegetable.  The Herbal Husband and I grow a limited number of vegetables in our garden, but with these concise instructions, I feel like we could successfully grow other vegetables as well.  Now the family is really going to think we have a farm and sell produce (We do not sell our produce!)   These pages are edged in dark green so they are easy to locate in the book.

Next Deardorff  and Wadsworth discuss Family Problem-Solving Guide talking about both pests and diseases of each vegetable family with photos and cross referenced solutions from least toxic to most toxic.  I always seem to have the one insect or disease a book doesn't have, but this one seems to have all of the answers or at least the majority of them.  While I always try to use the least toxic solution I can, I was glad to see all of the options including the toxic ones discussed.  I think it is important to see all of the options.

The next section covered is called Organic Solutions to Common Problems.  Deardorff and Wadsworth talk about the five rules in Safety First, such as using the least toxic product first, keep products out the reach of children and pets, read the label and use only as it is directed and on the plant is it labeled for (People think more is better and it is not!), dispose of the product properly as recommended on the label and wear protective clothing and gear if you are going to use a toxic solution.

Change Growing Conditions to Solve Problems is the next section which talks about those four important physical components.  Temperature Solutions which covers cool and warm season crops and modify effects of temperature.  In Soil Solutions, Deardorff and Wadsworth discuss how to create healthy soil, make raised beds, use organic fertilizer, has a chart of Nutrition Guidelines relating to fertilizer and what organic fertilizers to use (could have used this information many times), measure and modify pH, and how to solarize the soil.  The Light Solutions talks about modify the siteWater Solutions gives the reader a lot of options including how to manage water.  This section has several photos to show how to make better use of water with rain barrels, soaker hoses, drip irrigation and other systems.  They also talk about how to improve drainage and watering a container garden.  In Plant Polycultures talks about planting unrelated plants together which makes it harder for pests to find your veggies, diseases can't jump from one plant to another and the garden as a whole attracts beneficial organisms.  Rotate Your Crops is a very important section that gives you a three-year rotation system.  Encourage Beneficials talks about the herbs and flowers that attract beneficials to your vegetable garden.  Learn how to Maintain a Healthy "Home" by weeding, mulching, sanitizing and moving the air.  Solving Pest Problems has a chart of Troublesome Wildlife Problem-Solving Guide and this is where they talk about organic and chemical solutions.  Just as in Solving Pest Problems, Solving Disease Problems are discussed from organic to chemical fixes.

The Appendix is full of good information including Choosing the Right Cultivar, the authors discuss resistant cultivars, annuals, biennials, hybrids, GMO, Heirloom, open-pollinated, perennials and plant patents.  There is a very nice Resources section with information on organic regulations, sources for organic and biological remedies, sources for seeds and plants of disease and pest resistant cultivars and sources for fertilizer, irrigation and other gardening equipment.  And finally, there is a nice page with additional Recommended Reading choices.

As I said at the beginning of this review, I could have used this book when answering questions in my master gardener days.  This book is full of good diagnostic photos and information on solutions for your vegetable garden.  If you are a beginner or an experience gardener, What's Wrong With My Vegetable Garden? by David Deardorff & Kathryn Wadsworth should be on your bookshelf.


Kay's flowers said...

This book sounds very comprehensive and like I should have it for my own. Thanks for the recommendation.

lemonverbenalady said...

It is a very good book, Kay. I think you will enjoy it.

Carol said...

I'm thinking I need this book! I'm alway running done the road to the certified organic hobby find and annoying the owner with a ton of questions. He really doesn't mind..he love to talk and there lays the problem...he'll talk for hours and you hate to walk away cause you came down to ask him a favor...and help you solve your problem. What veggies I don't grow I buy from him.

lemonverbenalady said...

I think it may help you out Carol. I think you should still seek out the organic grower because he will know specific problem that your area has. Thanks for coming by. xxoo Nancy