Reviewed by Mary Gutierrez
Vegetables West of the Cascades
is a regional classic. The 6th Edition, published at the end of
2007, offers vegetable gardeners the benefit of the author’s 30-plus years of
experience, most of which he spent gardening in western Oregon. It’s the first—and
best—gardening book written specifically for the maritime Northwest vegetable
author, Steve Solomon, began writing about growing vegetables in the Pacific
Northwest in 1979, the year he founded Territorial Seed Company. He homesteaded
in Lorane, Oregon (near Eugene) and conducted trials of many varieties of
vegetables to identify those that perform best in our climate. Though he no
longer owns Territorial Seeds, the company continues to test seed for viability
and performance to ensure that gardeners get good value for their “seed money.”
the introduction, Solomon says that this book is most useful to the gardener
with some experience—as opposed to novice gardeners. But I beg to differ. While
a new gardener could read a book about soils to understand its properties and
how soil affects plant health and growth, the information provided in the
50-page chapter on soils is dense with information. And since many gardeners
today don’t have time to read an entire book about dirt, Growing Vegetables is a good place to start learning the
has excellent advice and instructions on pest management, compost,
fertilization—all the gardening fundamentals.
particularly enjoy that Solomon not only gives readers the “how-to,” but also the
“why” of gardening techniques. He tells you, for example, how to make
high-quality compost and then goes on to explain why compost is so important to
the soil and why it is vital to plant health.
gives detailed seed starting instructions for just about every vegetable crop
you can imagine, explains how far apart to space plants, how to transplant,
water and fertilize them—everything you need to know right up to harvest. And
throughout, he explains which gardening methods are superior—and why.
a chapter on garden planning, he gives detailed instructions on how to grow
vegetables year-round, and includes useful tables for when to start seed and
when to transplant vegetable starts out in the garden. If you have limited
space, he even advises on which crops offer the greatest dollar value relative
to the space they occupy.
lives a life epitomizing the meaning of the word “independence.” Throughout Growing
Vegetables, he encourages readers to be independent
thinkers, and to enhance their self-sufficiency and health by growing their own
vegetables year-round, rather than just in spring and summer (like gardeners in
other parts of the country). He was one of the Pacific Northwest’s first garden
writers to recognize that most information on gardening was written for folks
on the Eastern Seaboard or in the Midwest, and that growing conditions west of
the Cascades are unique.
can’t recommend Growing
Vegetables West of the Cascades
enough. I’ve been a gardener for the better part of two decades, and I learned
a few new things from this book. Just as important, I gained new insight into
the gardening practices that I’ve used for years.
now lives in Tasmania, his website is: soilandhealth.org