in her book, The Vegetable Garden Problem Solver Handbook, author Susan Mulvihill, offers a guide to meeting the challenges that gardeners face when growing vegetables. The problems may be caused by such factors as weather, nutrient deficiencies, microorganisms, insects, four-legged critters, and Mulvihill provides help identifying, preventing, and solving the problem in an environmentally-friendly way. Mulvihill focuses on organic gardening and growing plants that are less likely to have problems so that gardeners can grow nutritious, flavorful food for their family and have fun doing it.

In a section on starting a vegetable garden, Mulvihill discusses the basics such as garden location, planting time, spacing, and physical supports, as well as the needs of the plants in regard to soil, nutrients and water. She discusses physiological disorders, damage by herbicides and bugs, problems associated with germination and pollination, and considers weather issues such frost, hail, and heatwaves. Throughout the section, the author explains the cause of the problems and provides solutions.

A second section discusses integrated pest management, presents a chart of the potential diseases of over 30 common vegetables, and offers detailed profiles of 30 diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, and nematodes. Each profile includes the causative agent, a description of the disease with photographs of infected plant parts, crops most commonly impacted, symptoms, and organic strategies to prevent and/or control the disease. Some of the more familiar diseases included are Alternaria leaf spot, corn smut, and tobacco mosaic virus, while less familiar ones are represented by beet curly top virus, buckeye rot, Allium white rot. Organic strategies are explained and organic disease control and prevention products are recommended.

While many gardeners lover animals, the damage they can do can be substantial and Mulvihill discusses the damage caused by 15 different animals from birds, mice, and chipmunks to voles, porcupines, and deer. For each animal, she includes a description of the animal, the signs of their activity, the favorite plants of each, and suggestions for controlling them.

The Vegetable Garden Problem Solver Handbook includes a huge amount of information, some of which is not usually found in books on vegetable gardening. The disease profiles are especially valuable as the pictures are a great aid in identifying the specific problem, the major challenge faced in controlling diseases. Well organized, and easy to understand, the book helps to make organic gardening a viable option for beginners as well as experienced gardeners

To buy The Vegetable Garden Problem Solver Handbook from Amazon, click here.

By Karen