I recently received a review copy of a book called Juicy Tasty Tomatoes by Annette Welsford & Lucia Grimmer that contains a lot of very useful information from experienced tomato growing experts. Unfortunately, while I think the book itself is a good comprehensive tomato growing guide, I don’t think the $45.95 price is justified, and I’m suspicious of the infomercial-esque website being used to sell the book.
Tomato Growing Guide
Juicy Tasty Tomatoes really is comprehensive. The substantive part of the book begins with a quick start guide that serves as a cheat sheet for the information found in the rest of the book. The authors then discuss different varieties of tomatoes, explain the difference between heirlooms and hybrids, and provide useful lists of both “cool season” (i.e. short season) and “warm season” (long season) varieties. This is followed with step-by-step info on site preparation, cultivation, watering, fertilizing, pests, harvesting, seed collecting, organic growing, hydroponics and greenhouse growing. All covered in more than adequate detail.
What’s nice about this book is that a complete novice could pick it up, and if he or she followed the authors’ advice, would have all the knowledge needed to be successful. The information isn’t dumbed down though. A seasoned tomato grower would certainly learn some new things and find the pest and disease sections very helpful. I doubt anyone–novice or experienced gardener alike–could come up with a question or scenario not covered in the book.
My primary complaint about the book is that the photos are small (all of them are in the 2-3 inch range) and many aren’t high quality. If you believe the (ridiculous) website being used to sell the book, the book’s real value is $49.95. I don’t know about you all, but I can’t remember the last time I bought a book for $50, and if I ever did, I would expect professionally taken, large, nicely printed photos. Gardening books must have top quality photos in my opinion. It’s non-negotiable.
A quick note about the website. At present time, it is a one page, really long, infomercial-type sales pitch. Typical of such websites, it claims that the products bundled together are worth way more than any home gardener would pay for them, and then acts like it is such a great deal to get them at a much lower, but still absurd (in my opinion) price. I find it a HUGE turn off.
Our Family Tomato Cookbook
Bundled with every purchase of Juicy Tasty Tomatoes is Our Family’s Tomato Cookbook. I’ll be blunt, I would never purchase this cookbook, and wouldn’t have any use for it even if it was a gift. The recipes are not very interesting, and at least one is reprinted directly from the internet. You’d think that a cookbook solely covering recipes for tomatoes would have innovative ideas for using specific varieties of tomatoes. But you’d be wrong. I didn’t see any recipes that called for a tomato by variety name. And similar to Juicy Tasty Tomatoes, the photos are snapshot quality, and small. If you’re looking for a tomato recipe book, I recommend you check out The Tomato Festival Cookbook.
Tomato Varieties Database
Supposedly the tomato varieties database on an included CD is worth $72.95 and grants access to a database describing 1300 different varieties and provides information on where seeds can be purchased. However, I couldn’t view the database at all. I clicked on the appropriate file as instructed, but when I entered the username and password listed on the CD, all I got were error messages. Honestly, maybe I am spoiled by how easily things normally work on a Mac, but with a product whose package sells $45.95, I shouldn’t have to search through a list of folders and files to hunt down the right file and then fiddle with usernames and passwords. And it should actually work.
Journaling and Information Sheets
These basically contain information in the book reorganized into a “cheat sheet” format. Included are Common Problems Ready Reckoner, Growth Stage Cultivation Guide, Conversion Guide, and Tomato Growing Diary. They’re handy, but I personally wouldn’t pay extra for them. And certainly not the $39.95 value attributed to them.