A Great Guide to Vegetable Gardening

Dr. Bob Gough may have departed the gardening world last year, but he left gardeners with more than 17 books on horticulture including The Guide to Rocky Mountain Vegetable Growing.

I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Bob Gough face-to-face, but I got to know him anyway. He was the author of the “Ask Dr. Bob” gardening column on the pages of Zone 4 magazine. One of his last books, written together with his wife Cheryl Moore-Gough, is one of my go-to resources for vegetable gardening in a tough climate.

Soon we’ll all be fretting over chilly days that delay planting, so now’s a good time to pick up a copy of this book and tap into some of Dr. Bob’s vegetable growing wisdom.

The book is a good guide for any gardener, but it was written especially for gardeners who grow in short-season climates like we have in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming,

If you’ve had problems with vegetable gardening, The Guide to Rocky Mountain Vegetable Growing is bound to help. Whether you’re an experienced vegetable gardener or you’re just getting ready to plant your first seeds, the Goughs have some advice for you. They wrote this book because it’s the resource they wanted to have when they first started gardening in Montana.

“Don’t be intimidated by gardening in the Rocky Mountains; it’s fun and very rewarding!” they write.

This book is easy to read and loaded with practical information that starts with getting the lay of the land and includes planning the garden, starting seeds, fighting weeds. and cheating time by extending the season.

The section on climate and soils is valuable because it’s divided by state instead of lumping all areas together. Each state has its own special kind of soil and precipitation patterns.

“Site characteristics vary so widely that you must understand your specific garden conditions, based upon the soils, precipitation, and climactic conditions within a few hundred yards of your garden,” the authors write.

This sets the stage for helping gardeners learn how to match the vegetable varieties they grow with their specific growing conditions. In “The Vegetables,” the Goughs cover at least 45 different veggies with recommended varieties, how to sow them, how to grow them, how to harvest them and how to store them.

One of my favorite features of the book is the one called, “What Happened Here?” It’s something every gardener has thought at one time or another when a crop didn’t live up to expectations.

“What Happened Here?” is in a Q&A format, with a statement about what went wrong, an answer of why it happened and what to do about it.

These statements can almost be read like some disappointed gardener whining about her garden: My kale is growing too slowly…My lettuce didn’t form heads…I get too few good ears of corn…My tomato plants’ blossoms drop off before producing any fruit...(something I’ve whined about from time to time).

(I received a free review copy of The Guide to Rocky Mountain Vegetable Gardening when the book was published in 2010.)


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