08 June 2010

Incredible Edibles: 43 Fun Things to Grow in the City by Sonia Day

Master Gardener Sonia Day has released a new book that encourages city dwellers to do a little home gardening.
Day writes a garden column for the Toronto Star, so you know that her advice is geared toward gardeners in the north. By the way, Toronto is zone 6 by their formula and zone 5 by the U.S. system - here's that scoop.

With that said, the book focuses on 43 plants to grow - a great summary for anyone who would like to grow some of their own edibles but doesn't know where to start.

So, what are the recommended edibles? They include: Asparagus Peas, runner and pole beans, chard, cucumbers, fava beans, melons, mesclun, herbs, strawberries, etc.

The approach is to re-think grow-your-own. Don't think of it as old fashioned farm house veggie and fruit growing for survival, but think of it as growing delicious, fresh, nutritious and beautiful additions to the table.

Use a small bed or pots to keep things under control - you don't have to plow up the back and front yards as some writers recommend.

Number six of Day's Ten Commandments for this reasonable approach is a good one: "Plant things properly then baby them a bit" Practical advice. Plant a few of something and enjoy it rather than planting 100 tomatoes and becoming overwhelmed and abandoning the whole thing when the weeds grow up.

For each of the 35 vegetables, Day provides 2 pages of information and tips. For example, fava beans -
Degree of difficulty - can be tricky
Needs - cool weather
Where - in the ground or in containers
etc down the page
And! How much to grow - 2 plants

Then the plants are described including how to harvest, cook and eat them plus a gentle reminder to compost the pods.

Day recommends best varieties for Canada. If you live south of Toronto, go to your state extension service website to check for varieties best for your U.S.D.A. planting zone.

Here is the link for Oklahoma's best varieties.

Here is the link to Cornell's best varieties page. The Cornell site is compiled by home gardeners.

Barrie Murdock filled the book with 75 wonderful photos of cleverly plotted gardens, closeups of the plants.

Day moved to the country and wrote a book about it called "The Middle-Aged Spread" - you can check out that book at her website here.

"Incredible Edibles" is a 128 page paperback of accessible informaiton with a list price of $14.95 that sells for around $10 online.

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