Reading Marta Teegen's new book,

Homegrown: A Growing Guide for Creating a Cook's Garden in Raised Beds, Containers, and Small Spaces,

I sensed that something was missing.

Then it dawned on me. This may be the only gardening book around that doesn't have vivid illustrations. These are a pale, pale green, a curious and unsatisfying choice for a book about growing your own vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers.

That said, Teegen has a pretty nice book here from Rodale ($19.99). If you can live without the photos, there's much to learn from Teegen, a master gardener, garden designer, and chef in Los Angeles.

Talk about curious: She gardens in raised beds on the small patio of a fourth-floor apartment. But this should inspire would-be gardeners who don't have a big yard.

And it's no surprise that she plants intensively to maximize yield and diversity, and discourage weeds. This system actually mimics nature, which supports a large mix of different plants in small spaces and, without the hand of man interfering, almost never grows anything in straight lines.

One of the best features of Teegen's book, whose simple language also is to be applauded, comprises her suggested layouts and plants for 24-square-foot summer and fall/winter gardens, a container garden, and a shady border. She's talking about growing enough for two people for a season, and you can follow her drawn plan exactly or multiply it to fit your family.

Other chapters deal with basic garden siting, how to build a raised bed and choose a container, garden maintenance, and organic control of pests and diseases. "Organic doesn't mean having to eat bugs with your lettuce," Teegen writes.

Finally, there are recipes . . . nasturtium-blossom frittata, grilled flank steak with chimichurri, radicchio and violet salad, fresh mint ice cream. Who needs photographs? I can see it all now.

- Virginia A. Smith