September 5, 2018

Planning Your Fall Veg Garden? Here's A Niki Jabbour Book Giveaway!

Niki Jabbour's newest book Veggie Garden Remix will inspire you to try new varieties and versions of both familiar veggies and even some new ones you may have never heard about.

If you don't know about Niki Jabbour then I don't know where you've been. I first heard of her as 'that girl who was kneeling in the snow in front of her cold frame' as pictured on one of her first books 'The Year-Round Vegetable Garden', but if you don't. live where the snow is as deep as it is in Niki's hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, no worries.  This isn't one of those regional books. Her work speaks to all gardeners no matter where you garden. She makes gardening feel easy and fun, approachable and achievable. Best of all, she does it all with a smile and an endlessly positive attitude. And then, of course, there is that endless energy thing that many of us wish that we had! I kind of wish I had that tone (or as my editor said to me: "You sound kind of negative here" or "I don't think you should discourage someone by making it look so difficult." You name it. Martha Stewart, Rachael Rae or Julia Child. All can have a different and useful voice on the same topic.

Niki is unique though. Part gardening evangelist, and part teacher (yet without the ruler). She is also part therapist, part coach and a big part evangelist.  Her hair is 100% Disney Princess ( I can say that cuz I worked on the doll line!). It's her everyday approach though that wins her many followers over. She is able to realize that we are all students yet we never get bored. She's cheerleadery enough but not cloyingly so .Just when you think that she is all "yay- mouse melons! They're SO cute!!!",  she backs it up with  "...and I grew these super long snake gourds from seeds (In Nova Scotia mind you!) and will be preparing them in a Syrian dish for my family this evening after I harvest 6 rows of beans that I'll be drying.". Yyyeah. Like that.   She's authentic and has 'walked-the-walk'.

Combined, I think this is why she has thousands of followers who are passionate and crazy about everything she says. She's just enough to excite the newbie but toothsome enough for the advanced gardener to discover something they might have not known. Kind of the perfect balance for todays gardening lifestyle.

Win Niki Jabbour's newest book VEGGIE GARDEN REMIX by leaving a comment on this post, below.

If you are the average veggie gardener (raised beds in a back yard) then you must get Niki's books. If you are thinking about growing veggies through the winter, in small hoops or in raised beds, you must get her books. An award-winning author of many books on veg gardening (A GWA trowel winner) , she is also a blogger ,Youtuber, and a columnist (Birds and Blooms, Horticulture magazine).her Instagram feed is lively and informative, and she is always reminding us (me)  that we are slacking in the garden (well, at least, me. Did I say that yet?). Yes. Niki makes me feel like a slacker.

It seems that every hour Niki  Jabbour is reminding me that I'm not doing enough in the garden or with my produce (but in a nice way!). She's Martha circa 1994 without a staff. Growing cayenne peppers, stringing them into ristra? Then drying them and grinding them into her own ground pepper? I have soooooooo much to catch up on! 

 Niki's been writing about gardening for years now.  And she doesnt seem to stop for anything. Her garden full of raised beds in Nova Scotia inspires her readers which apparently reach much further than Atlantic Canada! Niki  career is rocketing high in the gardening world (most recently assigned as columnist for     but her latest - Niki Jabnout's Veggie Garden Remix makes me a bit jealous (it's OK for me to say that, because she's a friend and a very good gardener), but 'jealous' because you might know that I just authored my own veg gardening book, but Niki wrote her book a year earlier and beat me to bar on lots of unusual and new veggies to grow.

Follow Niki on Instagram(@nikijabbour) and Fanboy along with me. 

Why am I pitching her book then if it competes with mine? Well, I think that it doesn't compete, rather they will complement each other so nicely. I feel completely comfortable in sharing that both of our books probably belong on your bedside table (and not on the proverbial 'shelf' as both will help inspire you in different ways. One introduces you, another explains the history and might show step-by-step photos. We, gardeners, tend to have more than one gardening book on the subject we like best anyway. In fact, some of us have a whole bookcase full! Niki goes into depth on some topics that I don't. and I do the same on other topics.

Classic Niki.  "Like Peas? Then Try these unusual varieties.". DId you know that there are snow peas, and then there are purple snow peas and yellow snow peas....(um...'yellow snow' peas?). Well, there are.

But back to Nikki's great book - this is a book you will use, believe me. That cucamelon trend on social media? I kind of think that it wasn't started by a chef or by Dutch food producers who brought the tiny melon-relative back to the Netherlands to try growing commercially in greenhouses, but it probably would never have taken off if it wasn't for social media, and for people who are so active on it like Niki is.  Sure 'cucamelon's (or 'mousemelon's' as many call them on social media) look like tiny doll-house sized watermelons, but have I tried growing them yet? Not really.

Sometimes I've just too serious with myself. Well, yes, I tried growing them twice, but my crop failed the first time three years ago, and then, whenever I tried, I just didn't take care of them thinking that they were just a novelty. Now, I think I am missing out!  Was just trying them simply because they seemed new or odd? Maybe they are worth working into my routine....what do you think? Novelty or hype? So much yet to learn! Niki's been posting about here cucamelons for about a month now on Instagram - but it's too late for me to try them until next year now. ugh!

The trendy 'cucamelon' is taking gardening blogs (just not this one yet) by storm. Niki has me thinking that maybe I really am missing out on something. This book is a great inspirational book for all levels of vegetable gardeners. There is always something new to try growing.

I never continued trying to grow them, assuming that they just a novelty that maybe isn't worth the effort (much like cape gooseberries, but that's another story, and again, maybe it's just me - but bleh. I can't seem to find a practical use for them in the kitchen.). Cucamelons though need people like Niki to promote them. Maybe they are delicious and worth growing? Anyway, she is continuing to inspire or at least remind me to at least try again.

Niki also introduces us to plenty of very useful 'new' or forgotten crops in her book. Some you will see in my book as well, like Celtuce, or celery lettuce. I've grown it on and off over the years but thought that for some reason - no one else knew about it. That is until I saw it featured in Niki's book.
Celtuce is worth growing, believe me, and I encourage everyone to give it a try. It's terribly popular in China, in fact, I almost forgot about it a few years ago until I saw something called 'stem lettuce' offered in a local Szechuan restaurant near our house. Crispy like a water chestnut, and looking lie slices of Jade, it's easy to grow and easy to cook.

Celtuce, or stem lettuce in a market in Yunnan China this past June. We saw red varieties growing everywhere as it seemed to be the primary crop in most of the fields. This is a thick-stemmed red-leaved variety not available commercially in North America but if enough of us ask for it, maybe it will? Not familiar with it? Get Niki's book to learn more about it.

Niki introduces new gardeners Stem Lettuce in her book, and I was so happy to see it listed that I sent her some seeds that I brought back from Yunnan this June where a red-leaved variety is very popular around the city of Shangri-La. Entire fields of the dark-leaved crop had Derry Watkins (from Special Plants Nursery in the UK) and I so curious that we drove our traveling companions crazy as we yelled to stop the jeeps to see what it was. Later, Derry and I found an agricultural shop that sold seed (all in Chinese)  but we were able to find both the red-leaved variety of stem lettuce as well as the thick-stemmed variety so popular in much of the rest of China.

Stem lettuce is really just a type of romaine lettuce. The story of how it arrived in China is long but interesting (in my book, out in December), but it does track back to its early use in Egypt and Rome. The lettuce we all know evolved from varieties that migrated into Europe, and stem lettuce evolved from early varieties that moved into China via the Silk Road. Stem lettuce really isn't new, it's as old as the tombs in Egypt (where it is often carved into as artwork). Sure Chinese immigrants most likely brought it with them into California during the Gold Rush (where it was reported to be grown in back-yard gardens) and some 19th-century seed catalogs listed it as
Asparagus Lettuce' due to the color of the stems, but it never caught on.

Burpee tried to introduce it under the branded name of celtuce (celery and lettuce) in the 1930's, but again, it just didn't become popular - until now. Thank you, Niki and new Chinese immigrants for reminding us that there are veggies still yet to be rediscovered (and there are plenty of others in Niki's book! Asian gourds, bitter melons, unusually cauliflower, purple-podded peas - if you're bored with your garden, get this book.

To enter my giveaway - just leave a comment before 9:00 PM EST this Sunday night, and I will use randomizer software to select a winner which I will announce by Monday morning.


  1. This book looks right up my alley! I grew "cucamelons" this summer--but I was calling them Mexican Sour Gherkins, which is what they were labeled on the seed packet. They are DELICIOUS right off the vine but only so-so when pickled. -Jennifer in Minneapolis, MN

  2. This is a very interesting looking book. It's full of vegetables I've not heard of yet.

  3. This book look interesting! It is fun growing veggie’s in my plot no one has seen before! Great conversation starter.

  4. This is an interesting book that I would love to get my hands on. Those cucamelons look very intriguing. Lots of veggies that I have never seen or heard of before, like Carol said, a great conversation starter.

  5. I like how there are a fantastic variety of plants that I still have not learned about. I checked out her colorful garden on instagram and I hope to get to her level someday. I'm a beginner at gardening --so that might take a while. Ha. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Hi Tiffany- Congratulations! You won as number 5 was pulled on my number generator app! Please send me you mailing address to my email at mmattus@charter.net and I'll get Niki's book straight out to you right away! - Matt

  6. I would love a copy of this book - I borrowed it from the library a while back, and it was impressive!

  7. Anonymous1:05 AM

    I tried winter sowing this past year with some success. This book could help me progress... Thanks! -Toni

  8. It looks as beautiful and detailed as her Year-Round Vegetable Gardening book that's I've had for a while. I live in a urban area with a small dappled shade yard so not much vegetable growing going on but I try. It's enjoyable to see what other's are doing in their gardens.

  9. Book looks beautiful. Have ordered it and would surely read it once delivered. Keep up the good work. This article also helped me, here: https://howtogrowandtips.com/container-gardening/how-to-grow-mesclun-salad-greens-beautiful-baby-salad-greens/


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