Book of the Month for Jul 2019

Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening: Rare Varieties - Unusual Options - Plant Lore & Guidance
Amy Goldman

Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening: Rare Varieties – Unusual Options – Plant Lore & Guidance by Matt Mattus. Cool Springs Press, Beverly, MA: 2018. 272 pp.

$30.00 list price, $19.49 Amazon


Spending time with Matt Mattus’s book – the knowledge, the passion, the imagery – has been (and still is!) a pleasure. Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening is, well, masterful. Matt is a dyed-in-the-wool food gardener who follows in a grand family tradition.  At the age of five, under the tutelage of his mother and father, Matt grew his first vegetables at the family homestead. And he honed his skills through competitive vegetable growing. Fifty years later, with a lifetime of learning under his belt, he works the same land “on a very average street in a very average small city in Massachusetts.” Yet there is nothing average about his trial grounds and accomplishments – which are not confined to the vegetable arena.  Most notably, Matt served two terms as president of the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS), and he sits on the governing board of a number of other non-profit institutions. He has gained a loyal following in the horticultural community at large through his award-winning blog, Growing with Plants. His star is rising.

Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening will be a boon to those who want to learn how to successfully grow a range of vegetable crops and produce their own quality food for the table. The book itself is well designed and illustrated with lovely photographs of Matt’s homegrown produce and gardens. Its pages speak a lot of truth in digestible language that is geared to prevent pitfalls. Listen carefully and learn. I will turn to Mastering for advice on establishing a new asparagus bed in my Hudson Valley garden this fall. The old one petered out after thirty years.


Amy Goldman is a gardener, author, artist, and well-known advocate for seed saving, plant breeding, and heirloom fruits and vegetables. She has written five books on heirlooms. Her latest one, The Melon, will be published in September 2019.