New Maine Times Book Review: The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible

Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 in Culture

New Maine Times Book Review: The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible

How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers
By Edward C. Smith
Storey Publishing, 2011
263 pp, $29.95
ISBN 978-1-60342-976-4

Reviewed by Lee E. Cart

“The days are getting shorter and shorter and the nights are cooler now; there’s a hint of frost in the evening air tonight” [139]. But, according to Smith, in his book on growing vegetables in containers, fall doesn’t have to be the end of the season, if one has grown plants in pots, for they can be moved indoors. Although it is the end of the growing season here in Maine, it is never too late to begin thinking about next year’s garden. Reading Smith’s extensive coverage of container gardening will help the reader through the long winter ahead, providing stimulating new ideas on what to grow and how to grow it.

In part one, detailed information and color photographs inform the reader on the vast variety of containers to use from clay pots and five-gallon buckets to tea kettles and other found objects.  Smith also includes information on how to make your own self-watering containers out of plastic storage bins. Concise discussions on soils and compost, tools, and the use of trellises and stakes round out these useful general instructions.

Part two delves into types of seeds or seedlings to use, where to place your containers for optimal growth, managing pests and diseases, and tips on harvesting. Part three provides valuable in-depth information on a variety of plants suitable for the container garden from artichokes to winter squash and includes herbs and flowers as well.

Smith’s extensive research highlights the advantages of growing vegetables and herbs in pots such as less weeding, less bugs and disease, and less stooping and bending to tend the vegetables. And by using small pots or having containers on stands with rollers, the growing season can be extended by bringing any plants into the house.

So as fall arrives and the leaves begin to turn, this summer’s garden is coming to an end. But with Smith’s book, readers will be able to plan for a new and different kind of garden in the new year. Whether it is on a balcony, on a deck, or in a sunny window, growing vegetables in containers is an appealing alternative to the traditional backyard garden.

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