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Book Review: Growing Perfect Vegetables

From the Mel Bartholomew Foundation of Square Foot Gardening fame comes this book about recognizing when fruits and vegetables are ripe, picking, and storing them.  It is not about growing the vegetables and fruits, nor is about using the square foot gardening method or any way of gardening;  the value of the book lies in the information it provides on determining  when a vegetable or fruit is ripe whether it is in the garden or the store, and then storing it to maintain maximum freshness.  Yes, there are helpful growing tips, but raising the vegetables and fruits is NOT the focus of the book in spite of its title.

The first chapter discusses the ripening process including the difference between climacteric and non-climacteric fruit and the influence of seasonal factors on the ripening of various crops.  Insets give information on companion planting, how ethylene hastens ripening, a quick iodine test for ripeness, and a list of the six fastest ripening vegetables.  Lists of fruits/vegetables that can and can not be bag-ripened, and that are sweeter after a frost are especially valuable.

Most of the book is devoted to The Ripeness Listings.  Over 60 herbs, fruits and vegetables are broken down into three groups:  those that are grown in square foot gardens (SFG), those that are too large for SFG, and those that are more likely to be found in the grocery store than in a home garden.   Each entry includes a general description of crop and ways to determine when it is the best time to harvest, plus photographs of the crop when ripe, and sometimes also when under ripe and/or over ripe. In addition, there are hints on determining ripeness in the grocery store and ways to extend ripeness after harvest or purchase.  A graphic shows optimal planting and harvest times, with additional information of the suitability of the plant for succession planting, and whether it is best grown from seed or transplants.

The book is written in a clear, simple, friendly style with photographs that provide information not usually found in books on vegetable gardening.  The title is misleading but the book is still helpful to gardeners as well as to people who like vegetables and fruits and want to get the most out of what they buy or grow.  A good companion to a traditional vegetable gardening book.

To buy Growing Perfect Vegetables from Amazon.com click here.