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Kitchen and Vegetable Gardens

See also: Eat Your Garden, Food & Cooking: Produce, Seed Catalogs, Extension Services.

If there are herbs and vegetables that you can't find in the supermarket, try growing them yourself. You don't need an acre of land and these books will show you how to grow herbs and vegetables in raised beds, in a patio garden or in containers. If you aren't into gardening, you can always try a local Farmers Market for fresh and interesting produce.

Why Replace Your Lawn with a Kitchen Garden?

"Today, 58 million Americans spend approximately $30 billion every year to maintain over 23 million acres of lawn. That’s an average of over a third of an acre and $517 each. The same size plot of land could still have a small lawn for recreation, plus produce all of the vegetables needed to feed a family of six. The lawns in the United States consume around 270 billion gallons of water a week—enough to water 81 million acres of organic vegetables, all summer long."

Exerpted from Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community by Heather Coburn Flores


Gardening Books

Bartley, Jennifer R.
Designing the New Kitchen Garden: an American Potager Handbook
SB324.3.B38 2006
Learn how to set up your own kitchen garden or potager (so called because it provides the ingredients for potage, a soup or broth with vegetables) that has long been a part of European food culture.
Bartley, Jennifer R.
The Kitchen Gardener's Handbook
SB321.B285 2010
Jennifer R. Bartley traveled extensively throughout France to study traditional potagers (kitchen gardens), and has created her own versions for American chefs and gardeners.
Bird, Christopher
Cubed Foot Gardening: Growing Vegetables in Raised Intensive Beds
SB321.B55 2001x
Chris Bird does all his vegetable gardening in thickly planted raised beds. If you don't like weeding, this is a good solution.
Buried Treasures: Tasty Tubers of the World: How to grown and enjoy root vegetables, tubers, rhizomes, and corms
SB351.R65 B875 2007x
This small Brooklyn Botanic Garden handbook covers more than your ordinary potato, including tropical tubers and some native American ones you probably don't know about.
Coleman, Eliot
The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
SB324.3.C664 2009
Pennsylvania gardeners who want to eat from their gardens all year long will appreciate this book from an organic farmer in Maine.
Creasy, Rosalind
The Edible Asian Garden
q SB351.C54 C74 2000
From the other side of the world to your own backyard, Ros brings the succulent vegetables of Asia into American gardens to help you grow bok choy, bamboo shoots, and many other Asian delicacies. See also Creasy's The Edible French Garden, The Edible Italian Garden and her classic Edible Landscaping (below).
Creasy, Rosalind
Edible Landscaping
q SB475.9.E35 C74 2010
This is the second edition of Creasy's 1982 classic: The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping, a groundbreaking classic.
Diacono, Mark
The Food Lover's Garden: Amazing Edibles You Will Love to Grow and Eat
SB321.D533 2011x
Diacono is the head gardener at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage in England and also runs his own Otter Farm where he grows olives, peaches, pecans, persimmons, apricots and szechuan pepper. You won't be able to grow all that he does in Pittsburgh but you can enjoy the idea.
Gourmet Vegetables: Smart Tips and Tasty Picks for Gardeners and Gourmet Cooks
SB321.G68 2002x
This small Brooklyn Botanic Garden handbook is a brief introduction to unusual vegetables and varieties. Included is a recipe or two for each vegetable and a list of seed sources.
Harrington, Geri
Growing Chinese Vegetables in Your Own Backyard: Grow 40 Vegetables and Herbs in Gardens and Pots
SB351.C54 H37 2009
This is an updated version of Grow your own Chinese Vegetables, first published in 1978. It lists 40 vegetables and herbs.
Hendrickson, Robert
American Tomato: The Complete Guide to Growing and Using Tomatoes
SB349.H36 2005x
Everything one needs to know about growing tomatoes with extensive lists of the different varieties of tomatoes. Try the Tomato Growers Supply Company for a huge collection of tomato seeds (as well as peppers).
Homegrown Harvest: A Season-by-Season Guide to a Sustainable Kitchen Garden
SB321.H765 2010x
Written by the American Horticultural Society's foremost fruit, vegetable and herb experts, Homegrown Harvest provides advice that gardeners need for growing a year-round supply of healthy edible crops for their table. Specific local and regional advice enables gardeners to decide how and what to grow wherever they live in North America.
Iannotti, Marie
The Beginner's Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables: The 100 Easiest-to-Grow, Tastiest-to-Eat Vegetables for Your Garden
SB324.73.I26 2011x
The 100 heirloom vegetables featured in this Timber Press book are amazing to eat, bring something unique to the table and are unfussy and easy to grow.
Larkcom, Joy
Oriental Vegetables: The Complete Guide for the Gardening Cook
SB351.C54 L37 2008
Originally published in England in 1991. Greens grow very well in Pittsburgh so oriental greens might be interesting to plant!
Meredith, Ted
The Complete Book of Garlic: A Guide for Gardeners, Growers, and Serious Cooks
SB351.G3 M47 2008
This book is comprehensive enough for both the amateur and commercial grower. Here you will find everything you need to grow garlic in various climates. Included is a list of many different cultivars.
Nones, Raymond
Raised-Bed Vegetable Gardening Made Simple: The Three-Module Home Vegetable Garden
SB321.N6165 2010x
Raised beds are ideal for older folks and kids, and they really cut down on weeds, plus the ground warms up faster.
Peel, Lucy
Kitchen Garden
SB321.P4375 2004x
Includes more than 150 of the most popular vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
Rice, Graham
The All-in-One Garden: Grow Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs and Flowers in the Same Plot
SB453.R525 2006x
This English book will show you how to create that English staple: the cottage garden.
Ruppenthal, R. J.
Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting
SB453.R87 2008
Do you think your lot is too small for a vegetable garden? Or maybe you only have a balcony. Do you think it is impossible to grow things in Pennsylvania's winter? Maybe this book can change your mind!
Soler, Ivette
The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden
SB475.9.E35 S65 2011
Soler, the author of the blog Germinatrix, lives in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, where it's a lot easier to create an edible front yard!
Toensmeier, Eric
Perennial Vegetables: From Artichoke To 'zuiki' Taro, A Gardener's Guide To Over 100 Delicious, Easy-to-Grow Edibles
SB320.9.T64 2007
This is an interesting book that will introduce you to vegetables that you have never heard of, like arracacha. Most are from tropical/subtropical areas but there are a few that Pennsylvania could grow as annuals. And then of course there is rhubarb.
Tucker, David M.
Kitchen Gardening in America: A History
SB320.6 .T83 1993
If you think raised beds and compost heaps are new ideas, this book on the history of American kitchen gardens will give you some perspective.
Weaver, William Woys
100 Vegetables and Where They Came From
SB320.9.W43 2000
This is not a gardening book per se but tells the story of 100 interesting vegetable varieties. Most varieties you probably haven't heard of, like Egyptian Flat Black Beet, Gbognome Eggplant Collards, and Tartar Bread Plant. But some you may be familiar with, like Green Grape Tomato, Frijoles Rojas de Seda, and Shungiku Edible Chrysanthemum. Read more about William Woys Weaver.
Williams, Jimmy and Susan Heeger
From Seed to Skillet: A Guide to Growing, Tending, Harvesting, and Cooking up Fresh, Healthy Food to Share with People You Love
q SB321.W7164 2010x
Jimmy Williams learned all about vegetable gardening at the knee of his grandmother, a South Carolina native from a traditional Gullah community whose members were descendents of Caribbean slaves. Learn more at this YouTube video from Chronicle Books.

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Kitchen Gardens in Containers

Don't have a backyard or a very tiny one? Here are ideas for growing vegetables in containers, on balconies, etc.

Franks, Eric and Jasmine Richardson
Microgreens: A Guide to Growing Nutrient Packed Greens
SB339.F73 2009
Learn how to grow your own little greens of arugula, basil, purple cabbage, chard, radishes, broccoli, cilantro, and more. Only a small amount of space is needed to grow them and you can harvest them in 2 weeks after sowing.
Hill, Fionna
Microgreens: How to Grow Nature's Own Superfood
SB339.H55 2010x
Here's a crop for the apartment dweller and also for Pittsburgh in the winter. Hill's short book will tell you how to get started with seeds of greens, legumes and herbs that you pick when only seedlings.
Mitchell, Alex
The Edible Balcony: Growing Fresh Produce in Small Spaces
SB419.5.M58 2012
Longtime urban gardener Mitchell shows readers in this Rodale book how to transform whatever space they have, from a balcony or rooftop to a fire escape or window box, into a profusion of fresh, seasonal produce.
Pennington, Amy
Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home
SB453.P358 2011
Grow squash on the windowsill, flowers in the planter box, or corn in a parking strip. From building a window box to planting seeds in jars on the counter, every space is plantable. Also available as an eBook.
Shepherd, Lizz
The Complete Guide to Growing Vegetables, Flowers, Fruits, and Herbs from Containers: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply
SB418.S54 2011
This book will provide every potential container gardener with the necessary steps and resources needed to grow their very own crops to thrive in any conditions.
Smith, Edward C.
The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers
q SB418.S633 2011
Ed Smith ( The Vegetable Gardener's Bible) shows you how to choose the right plants, select containers and tools, care for plants throughout the growing season, control pests without chemicals, and even includes plans for small-space container gardens that are perfect for urban and suburban gardeners. Also available as an eBook.

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Browse the Catalog

For additional books, browse the library catalog under the subject headings:

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Pittsburgh Region

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Fall is a fine time to plant vegetables such as lettuce
    This Thursday, September 09, 2010 article by Doug Oster, says "If you plant lettuce now and properly tend it during the fall, you can have it fresh from the garden for your Christmas dinner." Other greens to plant include spinach, arugula, cress, mustard, corn mache, collards and kale. He also recommends planting a "green manure" crop like winter rye on vacant ground and tilling it in come spring.

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Web Sites