Smart and Refreshing Read: Grocery Gardening


This might be the smartest gardening/cooking book I have ever read. Yes, I know that is a bold statement and I have my reasons… But first, a disclaimer… I don’t know the ladies that wrote this book. Yes, I do follow their witty comments on Twitter/Facebook and check out their blogs. I didn’t receive a free copy of the book obliging me to say nice things, I actually went on two different lunchtime bookstore runs searching for it (Barnes and Noble!)

I bought this book for two reasons:

1. Because I’m excited about how social media is providing new ways for gardeners to communicate. I think of Twitter and Facebook as a “digital small town” where everyone knows everyone else – or at least the people we choose to know. I also firmly believe that collective wisdom is greater than any individual contributor of which this book is a great example. And I believe that social media is allowing a new generation of gardeners access to intelligence that was previously only found from neighbors and in books. According to the Garden Writers Association, for the first time in history, “technology” is ranked as the second source for gardening information after friends and neighbors…

Social media is the only instrument I can think of that will allow a full-scale gardening revolution to help Americans confront the food-related challenges of our generation: safety, nutrition related illness, hunger and sustainability. By making information, advice and encouragement available without borders the explosion of people learning to grow their own food is limited only by growing space – and, coincidentally, another smart, smart lady has come up for a solution for THAT issue

But, off the soapbox…

2. You can tell this book is written by veteran garden chefs who know that a book that includes gardening and cooking requires a special approach. When you are a non-gardening cook you find your recipe, make your list and go to the store for your groceries. When you’re a gardener, you sometimes stand in the garden thinking (maybe panicking), “Oh” [insert acceptable expletive of your choice] “I have a lot of tomatoes” (or peas, or carrots, or beets, or…) This book is written with that reality in mind and will be a helpful companion to new gardeners who are cooking what they grow. And, let’s face it, what’s the point of gardening if you don’t learn to cook what you grow?

A case study: Shortly after we met, I saw my then-future-husband, Peter, boiling macaroni. I watched him drain it. And then I watched him go to the refrigerator and take out a bottle of ketchup. “What are you going to do with that?” I asked. He, in all seriousness, said “I’m going to put it on the macaroni.” And I said, “and eat it?” Blank stare. I unequivocally stated at that moment that he was NOT going to eat that nor was he ever going to “cook” for himself again. This turned out to be quite a good deal for him for a decade or so until my work travel meant he was home alone during the week with a full, big, bountiful garden. Guess what happened? He learned how to cook. It started with weird kitchen questions. Then he began liking the role of sous chef. He really started liking grilling. My point, we have a bountiful garden and even my unlikely (and spoiled) dear heart was inspired to take advantage of it. Despite what, ten years ago, seemed like overwhelming odds…

Back to the book – the formula for each vegetable/herb/fruit-centric chapter makes great sense: a concise growing intro, helpful did-you-know features, harvesting tips, nutritional info, fun/cheeky comments by the contributors, lovely photos and, most importantly, great recipes.

The authors have managed to condense into one book everything a new gardener/chef could want. And for those of us that have been at it for longer than we care to admit, it’s nice to see what the collective power of gardening/cooking intelligence can do. Kudos!

To admire them from afar or contact them directly via Twitter: @JeanAnnVK, @kissmyaster, @robinripley, @seasonalwisdom. You can sign up to get info at, or become a fan of Grocery Gardening on Facebook.

For those of you who want to garden but are space challenged, you may find a happy solution at

LaManda JoySmart and Refreshing Read: Grocery Gardening

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