Gardening Articles
About HGSA Member Activities

Membership App

Member Roster



Board of Directors

Renee Shepherd, Renee's Garden

Vice President/Treasurer:
Patty Buskirk, Seeds By Design

John Walhert, Wild West Seeds

Brian Markham, Hammer Packaging

Chelsey Fields, W. A. Burpee

Tracy Lee, Sakata Seed of America.

Chris Faull, Syngenta Seed

Mike Lizotte, American Meadows

Past President:
Charlie Hart, Chas. Hart Seed


Home Garden Seed Association (HGSA)
P.O. Box 93, Maxwell, CA 95955
Phone (530) 438-2126 | Email Us

Member Delita Pardue, Home Garden Sales & Product Development Coordinator for Alf Christianson Vegetable Seed Company, is the sponsor of our book review feature and provides our initial book list. Members and guests are welcome to add their selections and reviews. Please send them to:  Delita Pardue at dpardue@alfseed.com

Reviewed by Barbara Melera

The Heirloom Tomato
By Amy Goldman
This book is first and foremost a comprehensive resource on the tomato, beginning with a well written primer on growing, harvesting and saving the seed of tomatoes, followed by a detailed archive describing for approximately 200 different tomatoes - the size, weight, shape, skin color, flesh color, sweetness, flavor, texture, uses, plant habit, leaf type, yield, maturity, origins, synonyms, seed sources and history. As is true with all of her books, the photography is fabulous, and the facts contained in this resource material are well researched and reliable. The book is also a compendium of tomato recipes some of which are quite unique like the dessert recipe, Galette of White Peaches and Tomatoes, and the drink recipe, Tomato Water.

Melons for the Passionate Grower
By Amy Goldman
This book is the definitive study of the most interesting and most historically significant melons that we know today. In its 176 pages, the stories of 100 melons are told with details about their size, shape, weight, sugar content, time to maturity and seed sources. The book begins with a primer for melon growers including how to know when to harvest, the effect of refrigeration, how to grow, how to save the seeds and how to hand pollinate. There is a brief section which provides the reader with some well-tested melon recipes like candied watermelon, melon soup and pickled watermelon rind. This section is followed by a brief history and a 126 page encyclopedia of melons with wonderful pictures that go into the history, legends, peculiarities and exceptional qualities of each melon in detail and with literary richness.

The Compleat Squash
By Amy Goldman
The book begins with a carefully written and easily understood primer on growing squash, harvesting squash, hand pollinating and saving the seeds of squash. The text is handsomely supported with photographs. The photo essay on page 26 which details hand pollination is certainly the best that I have ever seen. The primer is then followed by a 135 page library with wonderful photographs describing more than 140 squash, pumpkins and gourds including: size, weight, rind color, flesh color, fiber and uses. The research is meticulous and the information contained in these pages can be trusted. Each description is accompanied by a beautiful photograph.

Reviewed by Brian Markham

All New Square Foot Gardening
By Mel Bartholomew
My wife I have been gardening for a couple of decades, not a huge garden, but large enough for a nice selection of vegetables & some flowers to make things look pretty. We’ve never owned a rototiller, but have been fortunate to have a friend that loaned us one each year. This was always a challenge to get it when it was convenient for its owner; or when the soil was dry enough; or it was warm enough; or when it wasn’t broken. After the past couple of years of mechanical issues with the rototiller, I was beyond frustrated with planting a very late garden. During the course of venting my frustrations to a friend in the garden seed business he said…"have you ever tried Square Foot Gardening ?". He explained a bit further & I made a bee-line for the nearest bookstore.

Last spring, I built 6 boxes, filled them with the soil mix that Mel recommends and we started a new way of gardening!! We installed trellises on half the boxes & “went vertical” with anything that we could. We had one of the most prolific gardens ever, with no fertilizer. We may have pulled 6 weeds all year – what a joy !! Just this past weekend, I took 5 minutes to stir up the soil (no rototilling !!) – now we just need some warm weather. I can’t wait to start the early veggies – earlier than ever for us. Happy gardening!!

Reviewed by HGSA Member Alex Linde

The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener
By Eliot Coleman
This book is pretty well known in the gardening community, particularly with those interested in organic gardening. In fact, for those looking to learn more about organic gardening, this is the best book I have read on the subject because it is geared toward the average gardener looking for practical advise and simple prose, without the “save the planet” preaching that other organic gardening authors needlessly include in a gardening book.

Eliot Coleman not only explains the different processes of how to produce vegetables organically with authority but continually invites improvement and even expects the reader to do it better by standing on his shoulders and years of experience. I was looking for a book that would help me understand why organic gardening is worth trying and Mr. Coleman has convinced me to experiment with his tried and true techniques.

This book is for both the home gardener and small commercial farm and the ideas presented in the book make a lot of sense and are backed up with Mr. Coleman’s years of experience.

I am not sure if after all is said and done that I will never buy conventional fertilizer again or even invest in some of his recommended hand tools, but he has made the case and then some for me to experiment with the virtues of organic gardening. For those who do not understand what organic gardening is or why it is important than this is a must read.

The Secret Life of Compost: A "How-To" & "Why" Guide to Composting-Lawn, Garden, Feedlot or Farm
By Malcolm Beck
I wanted to learn more about composting and got this book from my local library. I was blown away by what I learned and read this 150 page book in one sitting. Try telling someone you know that you couldn’t put down a composting book. Well that is what happened to me and I feel very capable of producing my own compost now.

Malcolm Beck did exactly what I was hoping by telling me how to compost, instead of trying to explain the science behind it. Paraphrasing his own words, “the science of composting will mean something to you after you figure out how to do it.” Therefore, he doesn’t waste any of my time by trying to cram a bunch of science that would be better in a textbook.

He also spent time discussing why to compost and shared some experiences with how to “revive” soil that has been left for dead. Toward the end of the book he shares how one might start a composting business for themselves and includes many pictures of his own composting facility.

Unlike many “how-to” books, I came away from this one with a simple plan and felt less overwhelmed then when I started the book. That to me is the best praise I could give any “how-to” author. If I come away overwhelmed and unable to proceed then the author failed. In this case, Mr. Beck hits a home-run for composting.

Reviewed by Wendell Berry and submitted by Delita Pardue

The One-Straw Revolution
By Masanobu Fukuoka
The "One-Straw Revolution" is a classic among both home gardeners and environmentalists. Throughout the book Masanobu gives a detailed account of his "do nothing method" of gardening. He describes how he came to have different ideas of how to grow vegetables and fruits at his home in Japan. In addition, he gives philosophical advice about gardening and how we have come as a population to be disconnected from nature and therefore our food.
- Delita Pardue.

Here is a review by Wendell Berry, guru of sustainable farming:
Call it "Zen and the Art of Farming" or a "Little Green Book," Masanobu Fukuoka's manifesto about farming, eating, and the limits of human knowledge presents a radical challenge to the global systems we rely on for our food. Whether you're a guerrilla gardener or a kitchen gardener, dedicated to slow food or simply looking to live healthier life, you will find something here  you may even be moved to start a revolution of you own.
- Wendell Berry

Short Reviews of Favorites from Renee Shepherd

Cold-Climate Gardening
By Lewis Hill
For the gardener plagued by early and late frosts, arctic winds, and inhospitable terrain, here is invaluable advice on landscaping, growing food and warming up the soil. $16.95, 320 pages.

Theme Gardens
By Barbara Damrosch
Revised and updated, this book presents plans for creating 16 distinctively themed gardens with instructions for growing and maintaining over 300 plants. $19.95, 224 pages.

The Garden Primer
By Barbara Damrosch
The new edition has gone 100% organic and reflects the latest research on plants, soils, tools and techniques. There is expanded information on planning a garden, recommended plants and best tools. $18.95, 720 pages.

The Complete Compost Gardening Guide
By Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L. Martin
Turn the compost bin upside down with this natural six-way compost gardening system for keeping compost heaps right in the garden. $19.95, 320 pages.

Growing Chinese Vegetables in Your Own Backyard
By Geri Harrington
New plants, new tastes, and new challenges for enthusiastic vegetable gardeners. Contains extensive information on creating a Chinese herb garden as well as chapters on growing vegetables in containers and creating a Chinese water garden. $16.95, 232 pages.

Let It Rot!
By Stu Campbell
Recycle waste to create soil-nourishing compost. This is the classic guide to show you how with instructions for stating and maintaining a composting system, building bins and using the compost. $12.95, 160 pages.

HGSA Book List

Members and guests are invited to send in reviews of these books and suggest others!

Botany for Gardeners
By: Brian Capon

Seed to Seed: The secret life of plants
By: Nicholas Hurberd

Food Politics
By: Marion Nestle

Omnivore's Dilemma: A natural history of four meals
By: Michael Pollan

Botany of Desire
By: Michael Pollan

Food in History
By: Reay Tannahill

Plants for People
By: Ann Lewington

Square Foot Gardening
By Mel Bartholomew


 Home Garden Seed Association (HGSA) | P.O. Box 93, Maxwell, CA 95955 | Phone (530) 438-2126 | Email Us