Each year, publishers release dozens of gardening books, many of which are useful or beautiful. At the same time, hundreds of cookbooks are published, and some of them are pretty good, too. As interest in food gardening has increased, many publishers have put out garden/cookbooks. If you are tempted to buy one garden cookbook, buy this one from four-season garden experts Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman.
Thick and beautifully photographed and illustrated, The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook provides a thorough and accessible discussion of how to grow food, what to grow, how to get the most from your garden and finally, how to make it all taste delicious. Damrosch and Coleman are familiar (maybe even, iconic) figures among vegetable gardeners. Damrosch is a weekly food-garden columnist for the Washington Post and author of The Garden Primer, a classic how-to book for gardeners, and Theme Gardens. For 10 years, she co-hosted Gardening Naturally on the Learning Channel with husband and writing partner Coleman. He’s a long-time organic gardener and writer, who has written several best-selling books on growing food in all seasons, including The New Organic Grower and The Winter Harvest Handbook.
The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook starts where all gardening books should — with the soil and how to nourish it. From there, it moves to garden design, choice of crops and how to grow them, and methods for extending the growing and harvesting season. The garden layouts will be particularly helpful to new vegetable gardeners and those who have been growing food for years will find new ideas in the section on using hoop-houses, moveable greenhouses, trellises and other aids to lengthen the season. Seed saving and food storage are also covered.
Normally with a garden/cooking book, you get either great gardening information and so-so recipes or great recipes and pretty basic garden information. The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook manages to provide high-quality information on both fronts. Recipes for a hazelnut torte with summer berries, a roasted tomato tart and salad with new potatoes, smoked salmon and peas made me hungry for the season to come. I really like that on some recipes the authors provide “try this too” suggestions for ways to add or subtract ingredients depending on what is ripe in your garden.
If you are looking to be inspired to grow food this year — or even to cook with farmers’ market fare — this is a book to get you on your way.
Which garden and/or cookbooks are favorites on your shelf?
—Mary Lahr Schier