Growing Gourmet Vegetables: How to Ear the Best for Less


96 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-7710-1553-4




Reviewed by Lin Good

Lin Good, a consultant, was Associate Librarian at Queen’s University.


For many years John Bradshaw has inspired the people for whom gardening is recreation and refreshment. His 16-volume encyclopedia, Complete Guide to Better Gardening (1960), is an excellent standard work which has helped many beginners become experts.

Bradshaw can communicate his knowledge and enthusiasm. His long career in radio and his syndicated newspaper column attest to that, as do these four new titles, first in a new 16-volume series, Gardening Magic.

The first title, How to Grow the Perfect Lawn, covers the identification and eradication of weeds, the methods of mowing the lawn so as to do the least damage, repairing damaged turf, and all other relevant topics. The advice is simple to follow and practical, whether on the selection of a right lawn mower, its use and upkeep, or on the choice of ground covers for the places where grass is impractical or impossible. There is a good index and an excellent table of contents, in chronological order from Spring to Winter.

The second title, Growing Gourmet Vegetables, will be most useful to the economically minded who will get value for a small expenditure on seeds, and to the natural food enthusiasts who want to know how their food is produced. No large land holding is necessary. This book contains a plan for a medium-sized, high-yield vegetable garden that would fit into most suburban or small-town backyards, and Bradshaw suggests combinations of vegetables, explaining which are the better varieties and the tastiest to eat. There is a very good chapter on herbs — how to grow, harvest, and store them.

The third title in the series, Annual Flowers, is a colourful guide to what Bradshaw calls “easy, inexpensive, instant gardens.” Certainly with the wealth of examples shown here — from the three most popular, petunias, marigolds, and zinnias, to vines and decorative grasses — a garden could be complete using annuals alone. Anecdotes and historical information add spice to the narrative: for example, marigold is a corruption of Mary’s Gold, because, when Spanish explorers brought the brilliant flower home from the New World, it was used to decorate altars in honour of the Virgin Mary. This is a book to read and enjoy, not merely consult.

The fourth book, The Indoor Plant Primer, is a tribute to the use of plants as indoor decorations, even for interior landscaping. This fairly recent fashion is now well established and this primer is a simple sound guide to it. Those who are already devotees should find new ideas in this book, while the beginner will get a sound introduction on how and what to grow indoors. There are charts showing light and water requirements, and enticing illustrations nudge the reader to a hobby that is year-round enjoyment.

These little books, each fewer than 100 pages, are attractive paperbacks, designed for quick reference but also readable, with the distillation of Bradshaw’s wisdom and experience. The diagrams and lists of seed suppliers are helpful, the basic rules cited should be pinned up in every potting shed, and the photographs are enchanting.


Bradshaw, John, “Growing Gourmet Vegetables: How to Ear the Best for Less,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 3, 2021,