This past weekend I decided to make a salad for dinner. So, I stepped outside, and picked a bowl full of sweet-as-sugar cherry tomatoes from two plastic pots on my terrace. I can't take all the credit for this moment of late summer bliss--even though I watered the heck out of those scraggly vines during Seattle's record-breaking heat wave in July. They grew to fruition thanks to Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey. To them I say: "Thank you , thank you, horticultural goddesses. You've made me one very happy novice gardener." This green-thumbed duo's container gardening manual, McGee & Stuckey's The Bountiful Container, is essential reading for city rats eager to grow their own delish fruits and veggies, herbs and edible flowers in pots. I'm not alone in my thanks; the book has 65 rave customer reviews, and counting.
Even the most skeptical apartment dweller can conquer "plotless" gardening thanks to McGee and Stuckey's manual. The writing and layout are logical, clear, and encouraging to the inexperienced. As soon as I flipped to the tomato section, I knew I was in good hands. There are no super glossy, intimidating photos of someone's to-die-for penthouse apartment garden. Rather, one finds pages mapped out in two neat columns with clearly marked and succinct sections like "Choosing at the Garden Center" and "Tomato Basics." The hand-drawn illustrations manage to charm and instruct. Did I mention that this paperback is about the same size and shape as your average novel? You'll be compelled to read during the morning commute and pencil-in notes. I'm already envisioning that "winter harvest bowl" of lettuces.