Down to Earth Garden Know How by Dick Raymond was given to me by my Grandmother McElligott when I first began to garden. It was her fathers gardening book so it was already nicely broken in when I received it.
I remember being a young boy and visiting my great-grandfathers gardens. Specifically I remember the giant sweet peppers and mortgage buster tomatoes. He was from the old school, I remember finding a huge iron nail in the soil and bringing it to him so no one would get hurt, he took it and put it back in the dirt to feed the plants. When you went into his home he had the surplus from his garden in old half gallon milk containers in his freezer and jar upon jar of pickled veggies. People came from miles around to buy his produce.
Upon reading Dick Raymonds book I understand why my great-grandfather was such a good gardener. Dick Raymond was self taught, his expertise developed through years of hard work and his relationship with the land. Truth be told that is what I like about Dick Raymond his writing creates an atmosphere of casual conversation. It is far from clinical but full of useful knowledge and interesting wives tales that are hard to resist trying. He was ahead of his time in the pursuit of organic gardening as well.
The book itself is nearly forty years old yet I take it right into the garden while I am working and aside from a little dirt on the cover and some jagged corners it has held up from one gardener to the next for nearly four decades. Obviously it has sentimental value to me but I recommend it to new gardeners none the less. It covers most veggies, composting, root cellars and other storage methods as well as pest control and how to prepare your bed for the winter.
It is the perfect book to pick up on a cold winter evening and dream about warmer weather.