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February 26, 2023

The Creative Vegetable Gardener by Kelly Smith Trimble ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

It feels like spring here in the southeast U.S. We had temps in the high 70s and even hit the 80s at the end of the week. I can't wait to start digging in the ground, but the memory of the late freeze we experienced last spring has me holding back. So instead I read about gardening.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of nonfiction book The Creative Vegetable Gardener by Kelly Smith Trimble
February 2023; Storey Publishing; 978-1635865035
ebook, print (240 pages); gardening

I've read a few books from Storey Publishing, but this one is my favorite. I grew up with more traditional gardening and farming practices - first with the field of rows and then square-foot gardening. But at my house, those methods don't really work. So The Creative Vegetable Gardener is the perfect book for me.

I live in a subdivision with no HOA (so thankful I insisted on buying in a non-HOA neighborhood). I have a lot of trees so there isn't a lot of sun (I rarely run my AC in the summertime). Plus my property slopes pretty badly. There was already some existing landscaping of shrubs and the dreaded English Ivy. Because of erosion, the heavy shade, and to be honest my lack of care the little bit of lawn I had in the front yard was mostly weeds. Last year, I decided to embrace a rapidly growing movement of going grassless. I outlined potential growing spaces based on sun availability and started to work on the soil in that space. I mulched the part that will be pathways. While I planted a few things that I picked up for cheap or free as experiments (testing soil condition and sunlight), I wasn't expecting much from it. I picked my first tomato on the first day of Autumn. With my soil a little better, this year I'm focusing on planting. I already have a few cold-hardy plant seeds in the ground (sugar peas, beets, lettuce, spinach, and radishes) and I'm so looking forward to spring plant sales.

So reading The Creative Vegetable Gardener right now is perfect. I want to embrace the controlled chaos of a more natural garden and that is largely the focus of Trimble's book. While a few other books and websites I've read mention this way of intermixing your garden there really isn't much good information about how to do it. That's why I was so happy with Trimble's book. 

She talks about so many alternative ways of growing plants in her book. Did you know that there are people who determine when to plant and harvest by the phases of the moon instead of the solar calendar and seasons?

She also mentions the many ways you can design your garden. I have a wavy snake pattern since it is my front yard, close to the road, and the established landscape was already in curves. This is the control aspect of my desire for more natural gardening. In some places, the garden bed is no wider than two feet though I tried for three feet in most areas. But traditional row planting will never work. So I'm glad she mention intensive planting (growing more densely in a smaller space). I knew people did it but I wasn't sure really how to in order also to have success. She discusses a little about how the seed packets get their directions for spacing and how it doesn't always apply to home gardens. 

I'm really glad I read about that before I planted my lettuce seeds. According to the spacing directions on the seed packet I might have had space for 3 heads of lettuce. I might still need to do some thinning as the plants grow but at least I felt comfortable sowing seeds a little more densely.

I'm really not good with plants but I enjoy trying and Trimble reminds us that play is an important part of life. As adults, we often give too little time to play. For me, that is what gardening is. I love being outside, but I've never been one to just sit in a chair. So I get to be active and productive while enjoying the sun and wind and sounds of nature.

While the title says Vegetable Gardener, Trimble also talks about cut flower gardens, herb gardens, and dye gardens (there's even instructions for a DIY dye project included). If you are looking for adding more outdoor fun to your life while also providing beauty to your home and food for your table, then pick up this book. The information provided will give you a good start and the full color images will provide plenty of inspiration.

(P.S. while poking in my garden I noticed that the oregano and coral sedum I planted last year are thriving and even the half-dead phlox that I planted last year is hanging on. I also think I saw my first pea shoot from the seeds I sowed last weekend).

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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