After a dry winter and an extremely dry spring we finally have rain – two and a half inches in the last 24 hours. I’ve been reading away the rainy hours with Northeast Fruit and Vegetable Gardening by Charlie Nardozzi.
It has been a perfect rain. Hours of rain have penetrated the thirsty earth without washing away newly dug and seeded beds. The seeds and seedlings I planted just before the rain are really happy. More rain is on its way, possibly only intermittent showers over the next couple of days, just what the garden needs. And the rain has sent me back indoors to spend more time with Charlie
There are many books about vegetable gardening, and some are good books, but Nardozzi’s book, Northeast Fruit and Vegetable Gardening: Plant, Grow, and Eat the Best Edibles for Northeast Gardens, does focus on advice and information for those of us in the northeast which ranges from New Jersey to Maine and all the way west to Buffalo, New York. The first 90 pages give some of the most complete information and advice I have ever seen about zones, frost dates, soils, fertilizers, insects, insect control, animal pests like rabbits and deer (grrrrrrr!) and others, as well as that all important decision – where to locate the garden.
I have not often seen the point made that a new gardener should not only start small (advice I never took, alas) but also locate the garden where she will see it all the time. A garden located where you cannot avoid passing it every day will be better cared for, no matter whether you are a new or experienced gardener. You will see those new weeds sprouting, and the need to water. And you will probably have easy access to water. Of course if that convenient spot also drains well, you are halfway to success.
I have the main part of my vegetable and berry garden at the end of the Rose Walk where I wander every day. Now I also have the small Early Garden (also known as the Front Garden) right in front of the house. This southern garden is protected from the wind, very sunny, and has great drainage. I’ve been improving the soil. This is my third spring with the Early Garden that gives me those early greens and radishes. Yum.
The rest of Charlie Nardozzi’s book is devoted to encyclopedia-type entries for individual vegetables, herbs and fruits. He explains when, where and how to plant, maintain and harvest as well as possible problems and suggested suitable varieties. My Brussels sprouts were miserable last year. Even though I will rotate the Brussels sprouts, I’m working to enrich that section of garden of soil and I will keep Nardozzi’s advice in mind at the end of the summer. He says if the sprouts are not forming well, the top six inches of the plant can be removed to make more energy available to the rest of the plant.
Charlie Nardozzi (who lives in Vermont) is new to me, but he wrote Vegetable Gardening For Dummies and The Ultimate Gardener. He does radio, and TV, and works with organizations like Gardener’s Supply and Shelburne Farms on kid’s gardening projects. And we all know that Cool Springs Press has the best books about gardening and plants, books that are dependable and engaging. Cool Springs and Nardozzi, quite a combo.