According to Doug Oster, tomatoes, garlic, and basil are the three most versatile veggies we grow in our gardens... and I have a hard time disagreeing with him on this! His book, Tomatoes Garlic Basil, is part "how to grow," part memoir, and part cookbook. It makes for an enjoyable read, especially if, like me, you are already in love with these plants!
Review: "Tomatoes Garlic Basil"
I'm just going to say it: there was no need to "sell" me on this book. I knew I would like it the second I saw the title, and knowing that veteran gardener Doug Oster wrote it was just icing on the cake.
Oster takes a look at three (as far as I'm concerned) must-grow crops -- tomatoes, garlic, and basil -- and what results is a fun combination of how-to advice, recipes, and personal anecdotes.
I really enjoyed the fact that Oster started the book, not with the nitty-gritty how to garden advice, but with personal stories about how he became a food lover, the joys of cooking food you've grown yourself (yes!), and a few words about gardening with kids. The entire first section of the book really resonated with me.
Oster then goes into gardening basics: soil, compost, reusing items in your garden, weed control, pests, and getting a hold of quality tools for your garden. This section was full of good advice for new gardeners, but was also an enjoyable read for a veteran gardener like myself. I especially enjoyed reading the chapter on using old, vintage tools in your garden, and how to care for those old tools. Being married to a woodworker with a love for antique tools, I could definitely relate!
Oster then goes through the three crops (tomatoes, garlic, basil), giving each its own "how-to" section: how to grow it, recommended varieties, pest and diseases -- it's all here. Along with plenty of recipes to help you use what you grow.
It's an all around enjoyable read. I read it in winter, which made me long for the garden all the more.
Quotes from "Tomatoes Garlic Basil"
There are plenty of good quotes I could reference in this book, but here are a few of my favorites:
"Tomatoes link me to my childhood, but garlic was introduced to me by the love of my life, Cindy. Marrying an Italian princess at the tender age of 21 changed the way I would eat and cook for the rest of my life."
"Garlic is love, and when it hits hot oil in the pan, there's nothing like the smell that fills the house."
"Feed the soil, plant at the right time, use mulch and enjoy yourself. Before you know it, you'll be knee deep in tomatoes begging friends, neighbors, relatives - and occasionally strangers - to take some tomatoes home with them."
"For centuries, gardeners carefully saved seeds from their prized tomatoes and passed them along to the next generation. These days it's easier to just order a few packets, but saving seeds will also save you a little money, and it's a fun project that can involve the whole family. Best of all, you could be crating a variety that's tailor-made to your own taste and to your own microclimate."
I enthusiastically recommend this book for the new gardeners in your life, as well as those experienced gardeners that spend all winter longing for that first garden-grown tomato. The recipes also make it a fun housewarming gift for someone who enjoys both cooking and gardening.