Last winter I bought a copy of the book Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties by Carol Deppe. I’ve been going to write a review for quite a while but have been putting it off for some reason. Its long overdue so I’ll get it done now.
This book is probably the most important garden book published in the last decade. I don’t say such things lightly. We have seen a great deal of interest lately in growing food. Many people that read this blog have, over the past couple of years, made great strides in weaning themselves off the store shelves and turning their homes into productive places that can feed themselves. Covenantal agrarians should not stop here. Producing food is wonderful, but there is more to husbandry than mere cultivation. Praise God, there is a renewed interest in seed saving. As important as preserving the genetic material of heirloom varieties is, producing the heirloom varieties of the future is even more important. This book gives us the tools to accomplish that task. Deppe is an educated lady with plenty of “letters after her name”, but she is not your typical scientist. First she recognizes that husbandry is as much an art as it is science, she appreciates the work of small time breeders and doesn’t have the typical elitist attitude that some in the “science” community have. Second, she teaches the science you need to know in a way that resembles a conversation between two farmers over a barbed wire fence. When Deppe teaches genetics, she does so by teaching its practical application. I have taken a few genetics classes in my day and I learned more from this book than all the classroom hours combined! I really enjoyed the time she spent telling the stories of some of varieties and their breeders, such as Glen Drowns and his wonderful Blacktail Mt watermelon. This book has more practical information and experience between its covers than all the other books that share its shelf. Multigenerational agrarians with an optimistic eschatology and a vision for the future will read this book and get excited.