Edibles in Cold Climates

John Whitman is doing a workshop on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in the Garden Fair ­outside the Grandstand. Full description here.  He will also be signing books indoors at the Terrace Horticultural Books booth.

By Kent Petterson

As a practicing gardener, it’s reassuring when I open a new book and find a first sentence that says “I have been growing vegetables, berries, and herbs in cold climates for more than half a century.” John Whitman’s new book, Fresh from the Garden, brings his wisdom and lifetime of ­experience to the book and it shows.

Whitman, veteran co-writer with local gardening luminaries Jerry Olson, Michael Heger, Mary Maguire Lerman, Nancy Rose, and Don Selinger, has gone solo on this new book about food for cold climate gardeners. It’s a continuation of the highly successful Cold Climate Series of books (referenced throughout the Friends School Plant Sale catalog with its five-star ratings ★★★★★).

Fresh from the Garden is a large book of 514 well-organized pages. It begins with technique—where to place the garden, propagation of plants, problem solving, harvesting, culinary uses, and the tools of the trade. You know you’re in good hands when you find five pages on weeding techniques.

Next comes an extensive look at all the food plants that can commonly be grown by northern gardeners, from asparagus to watermelon. In all, 1,700 varieties within 134 specific plant types or species are covered in detail.

The book devotes six pages to kale, for instance. A chart lists 55 varieties of this type of Brassica. Paragraphs are devoted to how, when, and where to plant kale, and full details on how to care for, harvest, store, and use kale. Peppers and tomatoes receive the same treatment, with ­multi-page charts listing recommended varieties.

Cover of John Whitman's Fresh from the Garden

Fresh from the Garden, subtitled “an organic guide,” allows for your preference as to heirlooms, cultivars, and hybrids in the recommended varieties. It is filled with helpful color photos taken by the author.

Without a doubt, Whitman has poured into this book a lot for gardeners that will inspire and inform them as they seek food that’s fresh from their garden.

Kent Petterson is the proprieter of Terrace Horticultural Books in St. Paul. He will have copies of John Whitman’s Fresh from the Garden at his booth inside the Friends School Plant Sale.

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