Book Review: Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles

March 25, 2011

Sunset Magazine has been publishing a Western Garden Book of Edibles for some time now. I own a first edition, seventh printing from 1957 when it cost $2.95, and I was able to pick up the latest publication that came out in 2010.

The first chapter is a little introduction which is mostly for you to identify from a map what climate zone you live in only in the western United States and lower Canada, and then talks about the seasons in those climate zones. From there, there is a chapter on vegetables, herbs, berries, fruits, nuts, tropicals, and two extra chapters on garden design and a practical guide. The plants themselves are arranged alphabetically within the chapters, though some of what I consider fruit, like melons, was in the vegetable chapter. Each plant has at least a page dedicated to it, including zones it grows best in, best growing conditions, a brief description, and how to grow it. More popular plants such as tomatoes or apples have additional pages.

When it comes to fruit, and probably nuts and tropicals, there are better more informed books out there such as Grow Fruit. This book barely talks about pruning in the back chapters, and in the short space it devotes to each plant, the specific diseases and pests are barely covered and there are no pictures. Grow Fruit is just a much more extensive book on the topic of growing fruit. It does not cover cranberries.

However, I think this is probably a good starter encyclopedia when it comes to vegetable and herb gardening. I say starter because of the zoning and descriptions of each plant is excellent, and talking about trellising vegetables is great, but when compared to Grow Fruit and all the pictures it had of diseases and pests, this book comes up short.

Still, it is a book I like to have an updated version of in my home library.


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