THE VEGETABLE GROWER’S HANDBOOK by Frank Tozer

by JF

This is a wonderfully practical manual on home gardening, independently published, from a longtime gardener familiar with gardening experience both in the Midwest and on the West Coast. Chapters are divided, encyclopedically, according to different species of gardening plant with all the usual fruits and vegetables here, along with some rather unusual entries. However, unlike the clinical writing of an encyclopedia, Tozer writes with the quaintness and occasional wry humor of a country farmer. (And he frequently punctuates like one too–ha, ha.) This book has personality; it’s a personable read, and Tozer is quite knowledgeable and has apparently grown just about all the many food plants herein.

One thing Tozer does consistently and splendidly is include little idiosyncratic details about each that he personally has noticed in his many years experience. He typically includes little, obscure but nevertheless important details on how to grow a certain crop: what to watch out for, what to do, what not to do. It’s stuff that an old time gardener would tell you in person in a face to face conversation; esoteric information like this is more interesting, and one usually doesn’t find this kind of stuff in gardening books published by major major book publishers. For example: One of the most curious and recurring threads of memory that Tozer passes on in this book is his apparent lifelong struggle with and hatred for the squash vine borer beetle which attacks all summer and winter squash, but apparently only east of the Rocky Mountains. Tozer, having lived and gardened on either side of the Rockies, is able to provide that kind of rare info: that this pest is not a problem out west. This is the kind of rare info that this guy provides throughout this extremely useful book.
Just don’t expect color photos of the plants. All you’ll get are black and white line graphics. The info is what’s precious here, not the presentation.

Rating: Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ
4/2009

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