Patsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it’s a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at and read her travel writings.
In my Zone 6 garden there are always three kinds of tomatoes: a paste tomato for sauces, a cherry tomato, because these small tomatoes are always the first to ripen (and later, when the big tomatoes are producing, these small ones will be dried), and a big, meaty tomato for eating fresh (and for bragging rights). I love tomatoes and when I saw Tomatoes Garlic Basil (St. Lynn’s Press, 2010), I judged the book by its cover. It is beautiful. Eventually, I was tempted to open the paperback tribute to the garden and kitchen’s favorite produce and I’m glad that I did. The book only gets better!
Tomatoes, garlic and basil are the holy trinity of the vegetable garden.
Doug Oster’s Tomatoes Garlic Basil is a love letter about our favorite home garden produce. If you are one of the millions of backyard gardeners who grow tomatoes, this book is for you. Tomatoes are the star of the show. And, just like most gardens, basil and garlic have strong supporting roles in the book that magnify the magic of home grown tomatoes.
The book will not overwhelm you with soil science and plant genetics. It will give you some good advice about soil preparation and plant selection. The pleasure of reading this book grows as Oster offers us many choices with these three simple garden staples.
Like most gardeners, Oster is generous in sharing his experience and recipes. If you are new to gardening, try the simple combination of these three plants. He also encourages people who do not have garden space and shares some planting options. Each chapter begins with a garden or food quote that ties into the chapter. In Chapter 2, I was inspired by “Summer Celebrations” and looked forward to incorporating some of his ideas as I create new traditions for my own family. And by the time you get to the great advice in Chapter 9, which is about soil preparation and weed control, Oster will feel like an old neighbor
Oster is still on the big adventure of trying some different tomato plants every year as well as growing his favorites. It’s a good idea and you will never run out of tomato varieties to try. After reading this book you will be able to speak about basil and garlic as well as tomatoes with any home gardener.
This book would make a great gift for either a new or experienced gardener, as well as for the recipients of your produce bounty. (I recommend you buy the print version to enjoy the artful photographs.) The only difficult part is deciding whether to put this book with my cookbooks or on the shelf with the gardening books. I decided to take the book into the kitchen and try the recipes with my own fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil.
I enjoyed the humorous and serious gardening stories and there are plenty of artsy photographs throughout the book. I will definitely put Doug’s recipes and gardening tips to use this summer.
Cherry tomatoes are heavy producers.
• Tomatoes Garlic Basil: The Simple Pleasures of Growing and Cooking Your Garden’s Most Versatile Veggies by Doug Oster
• Paperback: 272 pages.
• Publisher: St. Lynn’s Press; 1st edition, ISBN-10: 0981961517 and ISBN-13: 978-0981961514
• See Doug Oster’s Blog at http://www.dougoster.com/books/ to read “My favorite story from Tomatoes Garlic Basil.”