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Heirloom Vegetable Gardening: A Master Gardener's Guide to Planting, Seed Saving, and Cultural History Hardcover – 28 March 2018
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- Publisher : Voyageur Press; New edition (28 March 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 076035992X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0760359921
- Dimensions : 20.96 x 3.18 x 26.04 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 63,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From the Publisher
Content Of Heirloom Vegetable Gardening
Chapter 1 The Kitchen Garden In America
In the Greek of Homer, the word for leek, práson, was also the root word for a garden bed: prasia. Such a linguistic connectedness between the kitchen vegetable and its place of cultivation does not exist in English. When the Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain, they found an indigenous Celtic culture focused on cattle breeding and husbandry, which they too adopted. Thus, we have inherited a linguistic and cultural perspective of the garden much different from that of the Mediterranean peoples.
Chapter 2 The Heirloom Vegetable Today
There have always been seed savers of one sort or another in this country. One of the most well known in recent times was John Withee in Massachusetts, who during the 1970s established the Wanigan Associates Collection, assembled from some four hundred collectors, of old-fashioned bean varieties. Withee was inspired by a passion for beans and by a fear that many of his old-time favorites would disappear. His collection of more than 1,100 bean varieties is now housed at Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa, and maintained by Seed Savers Exchange.
Chapter 3 A Grower’S Guide To Selected Heirloom Vegetables
Raising heirloom vegetables is as much a gardening challenge as it is a world of discovery. It was certainly a surprise to me, when first glancing through the plates of the Album Vilmorin, that I could count over forty five vegetables still available today under the same varietal names.
Carolina Lima Bean | Phaseolus Lunatus VAR. Lunonnus
This 80-day variety is known to date from pre-Columbian times. It was depicted by Matthias de l’Obel in 1591 and is thought to be the “bushel bean” known in the Carolinas as early as 1700. There are claims that this bean is indigenous, but more likely it was introduced from Jamaica. Thomas Jefferson grew this variety at Monticello in 1794, and visitors can see the beans rambling over their tall poles even to this day. The popularity of the Carolina Lima in the South gave rise to a great many synonyms, among them Carolina Sewee, Saba, Sivy, and West Indian. This bean has the advantage of being one of the earliest of all the limas, and for a dry bean it is prolific, best suited for drying green. As a shelly bean it is not as desirable, although it was used as such in colonial times.
Shown here as dry beans, from left to right: Speckled Saba or Bushel Bean (page 104), Dr. Martin’s Lima Bean (page 102), and Carolina Lima.
Lemon Cucumber | Cucumis Sativus
Introduced in the early 1890s as a novelty, this cucumber has many admirable qualities as a slicer for salads. The fruit is round, or should be, and white skinned, with bright yellow streaks. Fruit is harvested when 2½ to 3 inches in diameter. Paring is unnecessary because the skin is thin and lacks all trace of bitterness.
Organic gardeners have rediscovered this cucumber because it is more resistant to fungus diseases than many white varieties, and particularly resistant to rust. Furthermore, it remains highly productive until frost and tolerates drought. These features have made it extremely popular in California, but since the vines are especially attractive to squash beetles, I find that I must overplant in order to ensure enough cucumbers during the course of the season.
The Lemon Cucumber does not require paring. Beside it, on the right, is a small Boothby’s Blond Cucumber (page 187).
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Nevertheless, William Woys Weaver is considered first and foremost a scholar, as well as gardener, chef and novelist. The bibliography to this edition shows the extensive historical documentation he did in writing this book on Heirloom vegetables and plants.
Peter Hatch wrote the forward to this book. Hatch is the director of the Thomas Jefferson Monticello gardens in Virginia and is also a must read author on the subject of Heirloom vegetables/Jefferson's Gardens; as he has over the years, painstakingly restored the Monticello vegetable gardens and other plants from Jefferson's own garden diaries, maps and notes. In his Forward Hatch says of Weaver's book:
"....Heirloom Vegetable Gardening is so important. This book is an encyclopedia , a dictionary to our lost vegetable heritage— defining the vocabulary of our vegetable past, providing a guide to an untranslated language."
William, Weaver (2013-01-02). Heirloom Vegetable Gardening (Kindle Locations 94-95). Ogden Publications Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I love this book because W.W. Weaver discusses his own personal family history/connections with growing and saving Heirloom seeds and plants, and his extensive historical documentation of (books and other sources:) vegetables that range from 1591 through the colonial American period, including important tomes from France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy--to the present day. In this book Weaver outlines 750 types of vegetables and gives detailed profiles of 250 vegetables and plants. It is as Hatch says an encyclopedia.
I would highly recommend reading this book along with Peter Hatch's book "A Rich Spot of Earth" Thomas Jefferson's Revolutionary Garden at Monticello(circa 2012). I say this because I appreciated and understood so much more of Weaver's Heirloom Vegetable Gardening having previously read Hatch's book on Jefferson's gardens. As is true of Weaver's research with the present book; he discusses many of the same people and sources that Jefferson corresponded with in procuring seeds, plants, information, gardening techniques, etc. This review cannot give justice to all the historical information and knowledge that you will gain from reading this book and Peter Hatch as well.
Both books combined, as a gardener, I have a greater sense of historical pride and understand the historical importance of continuing the gardening tradition that our founding fathers' started and a greater pride that I stand in the shadow of those who continue to educate us with their experiences and writings on Heirloom vegetables.