Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review: Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro Houston, by Bob Randall, PhD

Summary: If you are already a skilled gardener, this book may be of use to you because it has a lot in it, is updated every few years, and is particularly aimed at the Metro Houston area. But if you are not so skilled, it will only partly provide what you need. Learning horticulture is like learning nearly everything else. A textbook works best if it is used with good teachers, both sit-down and hands on. For nearly twenty years, an increasing number of other gardening advocates and I have been building a “neighborhood school system” that does just that. At Urban Harvest, we provide lots of classes at night and on weekends taught by people who know their subject and care about it. Multiple-class series taught twice a month are especially useful: we have a basics of gardening course in the fall; building your orchard course in winter; organic vegetable course in spring and sometimes we teach an organic landscaping course or a gardening with water course. Year round, we teach sustainable design through four permaculture courses. We also teach monthly classes on how to sell what we grow and how to start community and school gardens.  Visit us at
The Farmer's Review: This book is my Bible for gardening. I plant what it says to plant, when it says to plant it and buy seeds and plantings from where it says to obtain them.
I learned how to garden without pesticides from this book. It’s a very painful first year as you use the bad bugs to lure the good bugs, meanwhile losing many plants and vegetables to the bad bugs before the good ones eat it. However, I haven’t used any pesticides in four years and haven’t lost a plant yet. Oh, they take a nibble out of a leaf from time to time and get a vegetable once in a while, but overall it’s a perfectly fine garden that looks like there are no bugs at all. Look closely and see the good guys.
The other thing I’ve learned is if you try two or three times to grow something, watermelons, for example, and are not successful, give up and plant something else! The light or temperature or soil may just not be right in your garden. Keep growing what works, okra for example.
Bob Randall has retired and the book is apparently no longer in print. Used copies are available at Barnes and Noble online and Amazon online for up to $200. So, if you are lucky enough to come across a copy, hold it dear for it is as valuable as gold.
The Suburban Farmer rates Year Round… by Bob Randle
Five organic broccoli stalks!

1 comment:

Simone Muhlbauer said...

I had some classes with Bob Randall a few years ago and was awesome! Th book its a must have, I highly recommend!