Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-01-01
  • Publisher: Firefly Books Ltd
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The demand for locally sourced organic foods continues to rise. This resource is a prime reference for the many who are growing or wanting to grow their own vegetables, herbs and fruits.The book features superb full-color photographs and illustrations and an easy-to-use A-Z directory. Comprehensive growing, harvesting and preserving tips and a wealth of recipes are a boon to gardeners and cooks alike.Practical aspects of gardening are explained in detail, with in-depth sections on creating a garden, pollination, soil fertility and greenhouse growing. Some of the topics covered are:Nutritional values The most useful and most recommended varieties Plant hardiness, propagation and growing guidelines Cropping, harvesting and storing Weed, pest and disease control Ornamental and wildlife value Pruning and training Companion planting Container growing.A yearly maintenance calendar, glossary, further reading section, seed sources list and detailed index round out this outstanding book.

Author Biography

Matthew Biggs lectures at the Royal Horticultural Society. His other books include Matthew Biggs' Complete Book of Vegetables.

Jekka McVicar has won several top awards from the Royal Horticultural Society. Her other books include Jekka 's Culinary Herbs.

Bob Flowerdew is an author and a lecturer for the Royal Horticultural Society.

Table of Contents

Vegetables 70+ entries
Herbs 100+ entries
Orchard Fruits 15 entries
Soft, Bush, and Cane Fruits 17 entries
Tender Fruits 28 entries
Shrub and Flower Garden Fruits 14 entries
Nuts 12 entries
Practical Gardening 22 entries
The Yearly Calendar
Further Reading
Seed Sources
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.


Introduction A flourishing, productive garden, containing vegetables, herbs, and fruit plants, is a testament to diligent, imaginative gardening and a promise of a delicious harvest to come. The range of color, texture, scent, and flavor offered by these plants is unrivaled, and there is space in any garden -- even in a window box -- for a selection of edible and useful plants. Vegetables, herbs, and fruit have always been essential to humanity. They are the basis of the food chain -- even for meat-eaters -- and are a vital component in creating tempting, palatable meals, as well as providing unique flavoring and aromas. All are health-giving, providing essential vitamins and minerals for a balanced diet, and many herbs have the added dimension of being used medicinally. Vegetables and herbs can be widely defined. Vegetables are those plants where a part, such as the leaf, stem, or root, can be used for food. Herbs, similarly, are those plants that are used for food, medicine, scent, or flavor. Fruits tend to be the sweet, juicy parts of the plants, containing the seed. There is considerable overlap between the three types of plant -- one further distinction is that fruits are generally sweet, or used in sweet dishes, while vegetables are savory, although this is by no means clear-cut. For centuries throughout the world, productive gardens have been the focal point of family and community survival. Our earliest diet as hunter-gatherers must have included a wide range of seeds, fruits, nuts, roots, leaves, and any moving thing we could catch. Gradually, over millennia, we learned which plants could be eaten and how to prepare them -- as with the discovery that eddoes were edible only after washing several times and cooking to remove the injurious calcium oxalate crystals. Fruit trees and bushes sprang up at the camp sites of nomadic people and were waiting for them when they returned, growing prolifically on their fertile waste heaps. Vegetables and herbs were collected from the surrounding countryside, and gradually were domesticated. Cultivated wheat and barley have been found dating from 8000 to 7000 B.C., and peas from 6500 B.C., while rice was recorded as a staple in China by 2800 B.C. With domestication came early selection of plants for beneficial characteristics such as yield, disease resistance, and ease of germination. These were the first cultivated varieties, or "cultivars." This selection has continued extensively and by the eighteenth century in Europe, seed selection had become a fine art in the hands of skilled gardeners. Gregor Mendel's work with peas in 1855 -- 1864 in his monastery garden at Brno in Moravia yielded one of the most significant discoveries, leading to the development of hybrids and scientific selection. Most development has centered on the major food crops. Minor crops, such as sea kale, have changed very little, apart from the selection of a few cultivars. Others, like many fruits, are similar to their wild relatives, but have fleshier, sweeter edible parts. Herbs have in general had less intensive work done on selection; many of the most popular and useful herbs are the same as or closely related to plants found in the wild. Food plants have spread around the world in waves, from the Roman Empire, which took fruits such as peaches, plums, grapes, and figs from the Mediterranean and North Africa to northern Europe, to the exportation of plants such as potatoes and maize from the New World in the fifteenth century. In between, monasteries guarded fruits, vegetables, and herbs for their own use and for their medicinal value. During the famine and winter dearth of the Middle Ages and beyond, the commonplace scurvy and vitamin deficiencies would have seemed to many people almost miraculously cured by monks' potions containing little more than preserved fruits, vegetables, or herbs full of nutrients and vitamin C. In 1597John Gerard wrote his

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