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The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers

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By growing vegetables in containers, even novice gardeners can reap a bounty of organic food in very small spaces. Anyone can harvest tomatoes on a patio, produce a pumpkin in a planter, or grow broccoli on a balcony — it’s easy! Ed Smith shows you how to choose the right plants, select containers and tools, care for plants throughout the growing season, control pests with By growing vegetables in containers, even novice gardeners can reap a bounty of organic food in very small spaces. Anyone can harvest tomatoes on a patio, produce a pumpkin in a planter, or grow broccoli on a balcony — it’s easy! Ed Smith shows you how to choose the right plants, select containers and tools, care for plants throughout the growing season, control pests without chemicals, and much more. He even includes plans for small-space container gardens that are perfect for urban and suburban gardeners.


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By growing vegetables in containers, even novice gardeners can reap a bounty of organic food in very small spaces. Anyone can harvest tomatoes on a patio, produce a pumpkin in a planter, or grow broccoli on a balcony — it’s easy! Ed Smith shows you how to choose the right plants, select containers and tools, care for plants throughout the growing season, control pests with By growing vegetables in containers, even novice gardeners can reap a bounty of organic food in very small spaces. Anyone can harvest tomatoes on a patio, produce a pumpkin in a planter, or grow broccoli on a balcony — it’s easy! Ed Smith shows you how to choose the right plants, select containers and tools, care for plants throughout the growing season, control pests without chemicals, and much more. He even includes plans for small-space container gardens that are perfect for urban and suburban gardeners.

30 review for The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tarah

    (updated as I had mistakenly only given 4 stars before- GASP--this is a 5-star gardening book!) There are a myriad of really great gardening books out there. But for the best go-to, how-to books, Edward C. Smith is God. Lucky for us, he wrote the Bible. Two of them, actually. Building on his Vegetable Gardener's Bible (which is wonderful) is now the Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible. These books are the best reference books out there on gardening (well, I'm sure the *really, really* big ones (updated as I had mistakenly only given 4 stars before- GASP--this is a 5-star gardening book!) There are a myriad of really great gardening books out there. But for the best go-to, how-to books, Edward C. Smith is God. Lucky for us, he wrote the Bible. Two of them, actually. Building on his Vegetable Gardener's Bible (which is wonderful) is now the Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible. These books are the best reference books out there on gardening (well, I'm sure the *really, really* big ones that cost a billion dollars probably are, simply because they are more extensive, but for the money, these are FANTASTIC). I've been home gardening for about 7 years- first in a community garden, and now in containers, and I have read probably 75 gardening books. These are the only two I own-- and for good reason: they're straight to the fucking point. Got any basic questions about how to grow the most common fruits and vegetables? Edward C. Smith has the answer. With high glossy photos. God Bless you, Edward C. Smith. Or, bless yourself, as the case may be.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Leo Walsh

    This book is good, if basic. As a long-time vegetable gardener in tiny spaces (currently confined to the 8' by 25' southern exposure of a condo built on heavy, clay-compacted soil), I grow a lot in containers: tomatoes, peppers, salad greens, cucumbers, zucchini, pole beans, herbs, etc. I'm not sure why I check out this book since I read it before, but I think I put it on hold back in March and it finally came off of hold at our library's digital collection. For inspiration, I imagine. Regardless This book is good, if basic. As a long-time vegetable gardener in tiny spaces (currently confined to the 8' by 25' southern exposure of a condo built on heavy, clay-compacted soil), I grow a lot in containers: tomatoes, peppers, salad greens, cucumbers, zucchini, pole beans, herbs, etc. I'm not sure why I check out this book since I read it before, but I think I put it on hold back in March and it finally came off of hold at our library's digital collection. For inspiration, I imagine. Regardless, I'm still giving this book only 3-stars, the same reaction I had last time. Mostly because you can get the same material online, but also because his encyclopedic "what to grow" — a staple of all vegetable gardening books — is odd, and the recommended varieties often bizarre, hard-to-find varietals instead of the standards, like Better Boy or Super Sweet 100 tomatoes and California Wonder bell peppers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karen GoatKeeper

    I love my earth garden and don't plan to give it up but this book makes turning much of it into a container garden very tempting. The writing is clear. The explanations are easily understood. Included are plans for making your own self watering containers, compost, pot mixes and planting suggestions. The pot sizes are not numerical making them a bit vague. They do have amounts of soil contained in the different sizes but that is not easily pictured. At the end of the book is a wonderful listing of I love my earth garden and don't plan to give it up but this book makes turning much of it into a container garden very tempting. The writing is clear. The explanations are easily understood. Included are plans for making your own self watering containers, compost, pot mixes and planting suggestions. The pot sizes are not numerical making them a bit vague. They do have amounts of soil contained in the different sizes but that is not easily pictured. At the end of the book is a wonderful listing of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers with descriptions and advice for growing them in containers or otherwise. Some of the information is usable for a raised bed. Some of the plant information will be very helpful for growing those plants in the garden proper. Anyone can grow some edible plant after reading this book. This includes apartment dwellers on upper floors. This is an excellent book for anyone who grows or wants to grow fresh produce.

  4. 4 out of 5

    jiji

    This is the book I should have read before I decided to plant carrots, swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, arugula, eggplant, summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, oregano, basil, dill, chives, and cilantro this summer. If I had, then maybe I would have done things right. As of now, I'm at war with the neighborhood chipmunks and squirrels who like to bury their nuts in my just-planted pots, and have lost six squash to blossom rot (which I didn't even know existed until I woke up to squishy squash a week This is the book I should have read before I decided to plant carrots, swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, arugula, eggplant, summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, oregano, basil, dill, chives, and cilantro this summer. If I had, then maybe I would have done things right. As of now, I'm at war with the neighborhood chipmunks and squirrels who like to bury their nuts in my just-planted pots, and have lost six squash to blossom rot (which I didn't even know existed until I woke up to squishy squash a week ago). I would have bought all self-watering containers, and I would have known that not all that many vegetables can survive sweltering Virginia summers -- in fact, it seems like most vegetables actually prefer cooler temperatures and do better in the shoulder seasons in Virginia. For this season, I've spent a small fortune to learn from my mistakes. The instructions and guidance in this book are clear and the author makes gardening seem doable and rewarding. There are instructions on growing dozens of vegetables, and although the author lives in Vermont, much of what he writes (how many plants to plant per container, what size container to use, what to stake, what not to stake) is applicable anywhere and exactly the questions I should have had going into this expensive, time-consuming (and yes, rewarding) hobby. My only complaint is that the level of detail in the instructions on growing specific vegetables is uneven: He provides an abundance of detail for some, and rather limited detail for others. Maybe he just doesn't like certain vegetables? But overall, this truly is pretty much a gardening Bible, I will turn to time and time again as I get more adventurous and efficient at gardening. I recommend this to anyone thinking about a small-space container garden.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    Super helpful book for someone like me who doesn't have space for an earth garden and knows nothing about planting. My general method is to buy and bunch of a plants, water when I remember to, and hope for the best. Every page or two I learned something new. The book is broken up in chapters by stages (selecting the right containers, soil, seeds/plants, planting, care... etc.) and then the last half of the book is an alphabetical list of vegetables and herbs. I would highly recommend for others Super helpful book for someone like me who doesn't have space for an earth garden and knows nothing about planting. My general method is to buy and bunch of a plants, water when I remember to, and hope for the best. Every page or two I learned something new. The book is broken up in chapters by stages (selecting the right containers, soil, seeds/plants, planting, care... etc.) and then the last half of the book is an alphabetical list of vegetables and herbs. I would highly recommend for others that are doing container gardens!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

    This gets 5 stars for being such a thorough and easy to navigate reference. Guides to multiple types of plants. I'll use this in combination with The Postage Stamp Garden, which is more adamently organic but does not contain as much detailed information for container gardens specifically. Good resource!

  7. 4 out of 5

    RL

    Excellent book, great ideas. I had been a gardener--a flat space in-the-ground outside gardener--for many years before my space in my community garden was bulldozed and destroyed. With very limited space and sunny areas, I began putting plants in pots with varying degrees of success. Finding self-esteem pots that I can afford has been challenging; Mr. Smith gives some excellent methods for making them. He also gives ideas that I hadn't thought about. I hadn't considered, for example, planting sho Excellent book, great ideas. I had been a gardener--a flat space in-the-ground outside gardener--for many years before my space in my community garden was bulldozed and destroyed. With very limited space and sunny areas, I began putting plants in pots with varying degrees of success. Finding self-esteem pots that I can afford has been challenging; Mr. Smith gives some excellent methods for making them. He also gives ideas that I hadn't thought about. I hadn't considered, for example, planting short-harvest vegetables in circles around those that one either plants later or simply takes longer to grow to size. His lists of different plants and habit\growth tips are quite good. I recommend this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Apparently I have Squash Vine Borers in my garden. They are really destructive little jerks... But I did get some nice zucchini before they did their damage. Had some zucchini bread for breakfast.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shaina Robbins

    I've been reading a lot about vegetable container gardening recently, and this book is by far the best one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rainbow Garden

    I was torn between getting the "container bible" or Smith's original Vegetable Gardener's Bible. I wish I knew how they measure against each other. When it claimed to be a bible, I thought it would be a bit more comprehensive. Even so, this book is a lovely introduction to successful container gardening. Smith outlines the basics and includes an abundance of helpful photographs for the visual learner. Really successful container gardening involves making a huge number of decisions, and it is ess I was torn between getting the "container bible" or Smith's original Vegetable Gardener's Bible. I wish I knew how they measure against each other. When it claimed to be a bible, I thought it would be a bit more comprehensive. Even so, this book is a lovely introduction to successful container gardening. Smith outlines the basics and includes an abundance of helpful photographs for the visual learner. Really successful container gardening involves making a huge number of decisions, and it is essential to know the basics when making those decisions. That's where this book really shines. Instead of being comprehensive--and, therefore, overwhelming for the newbie--this book establishes the most important things to consider. Smith guides readers on the following topics (and more): --Determining what should go in a potting soil depending on the type of container and watering needs, in an easy and simple manner. --Mixing your own potting soil (I am disappointed, here, that he relies on peat, because peat is an unsustainable resource and, after awhile, eventually compacts and makes watering difficult where it once helped) --Determining the size needs of a plant (I wish, here, he had used gallons for container measurement, but it's still helpful) --Choosing plant varieties that are good for containers. --Determining which plants can go together in a pot, and which plants need to be alone. --Taking a plant home to transplant (hint: remember to harden it off when you get home!) --Growing edible herbs and flowers --Managing pests (this is definitely not a comprehensive guide, and in fact he omitted the Mexican bean beetle. In all, this is a really good book to get if you're interested in container gardening, want to get the most out of your time with it, and if you are a beginner gardener in general.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kender

    This is a perfect book for beginner gardeners who want to grow food plants in containers. It's organized very well and makes it easy to find what you're looking for. There are gorgeous photos throughout. This book is very useful; I just wish I had started reading it earlier and followed instructions on starting seedlings indoors near the end of winter. Instead, I started them in spring and moved them outdoors and bought some plants as well to grow in containers on my deck. The first half of the b This is a perfect book for beginner gardeners who want to grow food plants in containers. It's organized very well and makes it easy to find what you're looking for. There are gorgeous photos throughout. This book is very useful; I just wish I had started reading it earlier and followed instructions on starting seedlings indoors near the end of winter. Instead, I started them in spring and moved them outdoors and bought some plants as well to grow in containers on my deck. The first half of the book contains information on tools, types of containers, what to grow together, ideas for attractive container gardens with a group of plants, different types of soil, different plant foods and pH modifiers, how to make compost, how to start plants from seed, how to prune, how to use trellises, how to manage pests and diseases, how to harvest, and a number of pages on how to make your own self-watering containers. The second half of the book has a page or two per each type of food plant, alphabetically, that will grow well in containers. It describes what type of pot and soil are good for each, what type of pests bother it, when to sow, when to harvest, how much water it needs, and a few varieties of each. There's a similar section on herbs and then edible flowers. At the back, there's a hardiness zone map of the US, an average last frost date map, a list of seed suppliers, and an index.

  12. 5 out of 5

    M.A. Kropp

    Since we moved to our current home, I have not been able to have an earth garden. That's one of the minor drawbacks of living in a townhouse development. So, I have moved my gardening to pots and other containers, both flowers and vegetables. This book is a great resource for anyone who wants to grow things in a garden that is not tilled into the earth. The book is written in a style that is easy to read and understand. Advice and instructions are clear. The book covers selecting and creating con Since we moved to our current home, I have not been able to have an earth garden. That's one of the minor drawbacks of living in a townhouse development. So, I have moved my gardening to pots and other containers, both flowers and vegetables. This book is a great resource for anyone who wants to grow things in a garden that is not tilled into the earth. The book is written in a style that is easy to read and understand. Advice and instructions are clear. The book covers selecting and creating containers, where to put them, soil and soil amendments, caring for the plants, and pest and disease control and prevention. There are large sections in the back of the book that list individual vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs, with details on growing, caring for, and harvesting each one. The whole book reads easily and will become a go-to resource as your gardening adventures grow. If you have always wanted to grow some of your own food, but think that since you only have a porch, patio, or balcony, you are out of luck, this book will change your mind. It is possible to grow a bounty of food in small spaces. You just need someone to show you how, and this book is a great place to start.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    Quick and easy layout in terms of planning, picking, and working with your containers. I am intrigued by the fact that this, unlike the last container gardening book I read, says nothing about mulch and instead is in love with liquid seaweed fertilizer. Having said that, he isn’t a fan of spice or chilis, so I’m not sure how much I can believe him....

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Continues to be absolutely essential. His organic slow release fertilizer was and is, spot on. The vegetable profiles are useful no matter what climate you are in, the the first half of the book offers countless container combos, setups, and instructional how to's. I will continue to re-read this and consult it every year.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Machon N Ross

    The biggest question I had and the reason I got this book was to figure out what could you grow in containers. The book gives you a comprehensive look at everything from chives to corn. It talks about soul, crops, pest, and harvesting. It really covers a wide range of things and gives you enough information to fill in the gaps. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to grow in a small space.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Cathey

    This book was a gift from a seasoned gardener after becoming aware of my ability to kill any plant within reach. This book was easy to understand, filled with pictures and made container gardening attainable... even for me! From beginners to experienced gardeners this is a fantastic resource.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    So helpful! I'll be re-reading certain chapters to take notes before returning this book to the library, so I can plan my garden for this year. But when I have an income again, I'll be buying a reference copy for myself!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emma Kramer-Rodger

    A really good book that dives in depth into the subject of container gardening. Although I did find it a little long winded at parts and it goes into enough detail using terms that make it not ideal for a beginner gardener

  19. 4 out of 5

    Keith Morehart

    Excellent source all things container gardening. I have raised beds and plan to keep them going but I have probably double my growing footprint, and hopefully vegetable production, by adding containers mostly because of this book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    The most helpful gardening book I've found to date!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    I haven't read through this but I do use it as a reference.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    Helpful, explanatory.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Excellent information and beautiful pictures.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeanna

    A comprehensive guide to container gardening. A useful resource especially for urban gardeners or those with limited space.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Heather Webb

    Helpful

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jgrace

    The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible- E.C.Smith 4 stars “I do like a good garden book” Amelia Maugery -The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society Me, too. I like a good gardening book. Until recently, I didn’t progress much beyond reading books and seed catalogs. But, now that I have some time…. I was looking for some practical advice. Realistically, I’m unlikely to do any gardening that involves heavy labor. I live in a standard suburban tract that is encroaching on Southern California The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible- E.C.Smith 4 stars “I do like a good garden book” Amelia Maugery -The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society Me, too. I like a good gardening book. Until recently, I didn’t progress much beyond reading books and seed catalogs. But, now that I have some time…. I was looking for some practical advice. Realistically, I’m unlikely to do any gardening that involves heavy labor. I live in a standard suburban tract that is encroaching on Southern California chaparral habitat. (Mea culpa.) Also, I don’t need to feed a family, but I like fresh vegetables. Add a pair of marauding dogs and a severe drought to the picture. Container gardening is perfect for my needs. This book is full of excellent advice, step by step instructions with clear diagrams and beautiful photographs. Divided into three sections; part one introduces the rationale for container gardening along with advice on self-watering containers, soil requirements and other tools and accessories. Part two walks through the steps of gardening from seed to harvest along with trouble shooting advice. The third section is the most fun to read and look at. It is basically an alphabetized reference of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers that will thrive if planted in containers. I tried the free sample of this book on my paperwhite, but black and white pictures did not inspire me enough. I’m enjoying the paper copy with its gorgeous pictures. It’s fun to thumb through when I’m not out playing in the dirt.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Penrose

    This book serves as something of a mentor for those who want to grow food, but lack a yard. It's starts out with encouraging words, and quickly gets in to explanations of where to begin. Chapters are devoted to a single topic such as, choosing the proper containers, the right potting mix, and what special tools and accessories may become necessary. There is a ton of information about how much space, sunlight, and water that different plants require, as well as insight about what grows well togeth This book serves as something of a mentor for those who want to grow food, but lack a yard. It's starts out with encouraging words, and quickly gets in to explanations of where to begin. Chapters are devoted to a single topic such as, choosing the proper containers, the right potting mix, and what special tools and accessories may become necessary. There is a ton of information about how much space, sunlight, and water that different plants require, as well as insight about what grows well together, what looks good together, and how you can maximize your harvest, never letting growing space go unused. There are entire chapters dedicated to pest identification and management, when and how to harvest, and even step-by-step directions on how to pack up for the winter. The second half of the book is an alphabetized list of successful veggies, listing specific recommendations for pots, planting/harvesting times, and pest control concerns. These recommendations are based on the author's personal experiences with container gardening. Although I'd still like to read Carrots Love Tomatoes, I feel like this book is damn close to telling me everything that I need to know.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elie

    After trying self-watering pots as edward smith recommends, I would have to agree that it is the best way to go! I have killed many potted plants by simply going on vacation for a couple days. Self watering pots solve this problem. between this book and bountiful container, all the information for a full garden in pots is available. Smith has great technique for growing annuals. Bountiful Container discusses perennials (fruit) in addition to annuals. An outstanding book for the beginner Includes: p After trying self-watering pots as edward smith recommends, I would have to agree that it is the best way to go! I have killed many potted plants by simply going on vacation for a couple days. Self watering pots solve this problem. between this book and bountiful container, all the information for a full garden in pots is available. Smith has great technique for growing annuals. Bountiful Container discusses perennials (fruit) in addition to annuals. An outstanding book for the beginner Includes: potting soil recipe, how to build self watering pots, how to rejuvenate soil for a new year, pot capacities for numerous veggies along with some good varieties to start with. Great layout. Easy to flip through and look up particular topics.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lulu

    About ten years ago we moved back to the inner city from the country, where we grew everything imaginable in our huge garden. We have a fairly decent sized backyard (33x40) for a Centretown lot, but I'm always looking for new ideas to enable me to cram in more vegetables and fruits. While I'm not big on the idea of planting in plastic, those tupperware containers are clever! I've got the bins and power-tools... all I need is some good earth to replace the road dust that makes up our garden. I ga About ten years ago we moved back to the inner city from the country, where we grew everything imaginable in our huge garden. We have a fairly decent sized backyard (33x40) for a Centretown lot, but I'm always looking for new ideas to enable me to cram in more vegetables and fruits. While I'm not big on the idea of planting in plastic, those tupperware containers are clever! I've got the bins and power-tools... all I need is some good earth to replace the road dust that makes up our garden. I gave this book five stars just for the bins alone, but as Tarah said in her review, Edward C.Smith is the man!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zacaro Caro

    Great advice even if you aren't gardening in containers. I have an "earth garden" as he calls it in this book. But I picked this book up at the library as well because I am thinking about window sill gardens, tomatoes in a container and maybe doing herbs this way. I think I'm going to buy this book, it's very useful--I could tell he wanted to write more on traditional "earth gardens" and he does a good job of explaining what is just good advice for growing in the earth as well while admirably st Great advice even if you aren't gardening in containers. I have an "earth garden" as he calls it in this book. But I picked this book up at the library as well because I am thinking about window sill gardens, tomatoes in a container and maybe doing herbs this way. I think I'm going to buy this book, it's very useful--I could tell he wanted to write more on traditional "earth gardens" and he does a good job of explaining what is just good advice for growing in the earth as well while admirably staying on topic and focused towards the title. I'm looking for more of his books to buy as well. He has a fun writing style easy to read while informative at the same time.

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