Cool Green Gardens

Win a Copy of No Nonsense Vegetable Gardening!

No Nonsense Cover

I’m giving away another great book. This one will fill your brain, then fill your tummy with yummies. No Nonsense Vegetable Gardening is the book I wish had been around when I caught the gardening bug in my early twenties. It’s packed with bushels of great, go-out-in-the-yard-and-use-it information, and is presented with a delightful, cheeky, off-the-wall attitude.

You’ll immediately understand authors Donna Balzer’s and Steven Biggs’ approach to imparting knowledge when you flip the book to the back cover. Along with their tag line, “Garden Coaches Tell All: No guff. Lots of fun” you’ll also find this snippet: “We garden A LOT – and we talk to A LOT of gardeners. So we don’t mind telling it as we see it. If that means some age-old wisdom is guff, we’ll say so.”

No Nonsense Vegetable Garddening

See why I like this book so much?

Let’s get to the dirty nitty gritty, shall we? The text follows the logical order readers need to be successful veggie gardeners, starting with understanding their climate and weather conditions – what landscape architects like me call site analysis. Ignore these fundamentals that nature and your site give you – its opportunities and constraints – and you’ll be pushing uphill all the way. For example, they explain how urban gardens versus those close to large bodies of water create different microclimates, and how to adjust your techniques to address them.

Soil gets a big discussion, since it’s (pun alert) at the root of everything you grow. Here’s a bit of advice for making good soil (page 23): “Leave rock outdoors for a few thousand years to allow it to be pulverized by the force of freezing water, consumed by algae, chiseled by tree roots, sandblasted by wind, eroded by waves and glaciers, and worn down by rushing rivers.” See what I mean? Good practical advice.

But semi-seriously, the book describes simple soil tests, how to liveIllustration of vegetables with clay, and the mysteries of mycorrhizae. (No clue? You’ll just have to buy the book, or win it). And what food gardening book would be complete without a lot of straightforward info on composting, worms, and manures? (I can hear your mouth watering from my office.)

I don’t have room to outline every chapter (there are nine of them), but suffice it to say that Balzer and Biggs don’t leave anything out: planning, building, starting seeds indoors or in the garden, transplanting, garden maintenance (expect to be very involved with your garden), harvesting and succession crops.

I can’t imagine how the book was actually written. The bantering dialog between the authors is a delight to read, sparkling with wit and making you wish you were a fly on the wall during all the shenanigans. And the graphic presentation is somewhere between a hand-drawn kids book, a school project, and exquisite close-ups of plants, dirt, sweet kids and slimy slugs.

Veggie chartThe advice they dispense is universally applicable in the stateside version published by St. Lynn’s Press, although originally written for Canadian readers (Balzer is from Alberta and Biggs from Toronto). (Full disclosure: this is the publisher of my forthcoming book in March 2013.)

Now imagine yourself holding this book in your chilly fingers as winter approaches, or putting it under the Christmas tree for a family member, fully aware you’ll be snatching it as soon as they look away to reach for their egg nog (made with fresh eggs and hand-picked nogs).

Find out more about No Nonsense Vegetable Gardening and watch their delightful videos at their website.

No Nonsense Vegetable Gardening book signing

Wanna chance to win one for yourself? Just leave a comment in the box below and we’ll have a random drawing on December 1st, plenty of time to find out if you need to order one for yourself for the holidays.


View Comments


  1. kwhan3604 11/01/2012

    Sounds like a fun read

  2. kwhan3604 11/01/2012

    Continued from my early-send-due-to-fat-fingers-on-a-skinny-phone comment above.

    I would buy this book based on the one phrase in your review "how to live with clay," but I would rather win it!

  3. joeycalgary 11/01/2012

    I love this book - it has all my favourite passions about gardening. Soil is #1 - understanding and then learning what makes great soil and then how to provide the conditions for keeping it in great shape.

    I love the layout - I can find things! And when I do find them they are simple to use.

    And I love the graphics, it makes gardening so much fun. Our kids love it cuz it's fun to read and easy to use.

    I know the book is about veggies but it's really the quintessential basic gardening book. Jooey Calgary

  4. jeachapman 11/02/2012

    Looks like some fun winter reading.

  5. dkamiller1 11/02/2012

    Have had my eye on this book..sounds like a good approach to gardening.

  6. MarianneMueller 11/03/2012

    Hey clay may
    be gray
    but I say
    it holds sway!

    secondary product of erosion, so more minerals available. And small size of clay particles means 1,000x times more faces than silt particles and that's where the chemical and electrical interactions with roots occur that get nutrients to roots. So clay not only provides more nutrients, but most readily makes them available to plants. Just layer compost or mulch on top, don't even need to dig anything in, the soil buggers will pull it all down for you and do all the work.

    had to put in a good word for the unfairly maligned clay of my heart's delight

  7. Aafreen 11/05/2012

    Gardening is my favorite thing to do. I have my own vegetable garden. There are a lot of vegetables. If you have any tips according to gardening so please share with me.

    Embroidery Digitizing

  8. cassywax 11/07/2012


  9. user-7006943 11/09/2012

    I love the layout and colors! Something striking that I can use with my grandkids to get them interested in gardening:)!!

  10. RosieW 11/10/2012

    Can finally have veggies after living among trees for many years. This book would be much fun to share with all the 'littles' that visit me.

    Love my clay soil!

  11. Dunkinjean 11/11/2012

    This book looks like it will be a delight to read while learning about vegetable gardening. Thank you for the chance to win this exciting book.

  12. TheSubversiveHippie 11/11/2012

    I would really love a copy of this book.

  13. kbill 11/11/2012

    Would love a copy of the book.

  14. SandraNC 11/15/2012

    It is so important to grow our own....
    Thanks for the chance to win..
    Grand kids will help to raise our garden together....

  15. roywoodworth 11/17/2012

    I enjoy every thing about gardening, and would love to win your book. Spring is coming and I am getting ready for another season of gardening. Actual its a year round love affair

  16. GardenTool 11/21/2012

    Currently reading a book on biodynamics, and would love this book on my winter reading list in order to plan the 2013 garden.

    (Also found thislink via HUFF POST, thanks for the insightful comments)

    grace de marchlier

  17. suzuo 11/27/2012

    I am RIGHT NOW putting in raised beds to live with my clay and would love to have this book to jumpstart my renewed efforts at vegetable gardening. I know that you know your stuff, so any book you recommend has got to be good!

  18. Cadillac 11/27/2012

    This is a book I can turn to when I am faced with a vegetable gardening challenge and I want to feel more confident about what to do about it. Without this book I feel the advice I'm getting is often too narrow. So with an extra copy of the book I would provide it to close friends who often need advice and diverse options about their vegetable gardening choices.

  19. Rosmerta 11/28/2012

    Loving the illustrations, very fun and inspirational. I look forward to reading it on our long Canadian winter nights and planning the spring and summer gardens.
    Thanks for the heads up, I'll be adding this as a gift of for my green thumbed friends.

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