IN PUTTING TOGETHER EIGHT gardening books and as avid gardeners ourselves, we have seen new products by the hundreds become available to help solve any number of gardening problems.

The frustrating part however, was that while we knew there were a number of new items on the market, we could seldom find out just what they were or even where to buy them. In truth, only a fraction of the available home garden products can be found in any one nursery or garden catalog.

Suppose, for instance, you read about a new mini variety of cauliflower and decide to try it. Often, no one at the local nurseries has even heard of that particular variety. The only real way to find it is to send for as many individual garden catalogs as possible, then thumb through them looking for a seed source.

Or, you may be a novice gardener looking for a backyard greenhouse. There are dozens of types available today in a wide range of materials. Just where can you find the information you need to make a decision? Until this sourcebook was first published in 1980, there was no single source that allowed you to make a comprehensive comparison of products or even a complete list of manufacturers' addresses.

As we initially began to look for home-garden supply manufacturers to include in this sourcebook, we discovered that there were hundreds of them producing literally thousands of products, many more than would be possible to include here. As a result we decided to present an overview of each garden area and to include products that represent basic types.

With tractors, for instance, we try to show what's available, from the simplest to the most complex, explaining the basic differences between types and the jobs each performs best.

With hand tools, we describe the uses of each tool and the choices available.

For transplanting, we provide a summary of both commercial and noncommercial devices.

This approach is carried through in the chapter reviewing vegetable varieties (Chapter 13). Since this sourcebook was first published the number of varieties available in most vegetable groups has almost doubled. The choice today is huge.

With ordinary radishes, for instance, you have a choice of round red to one-third white, to two-thirds white round, to all-white long, plus several unusual-combinations. In addition, there are a number of oriental types available.

Eggplant is available in the familiar plumb oval or long cylindrical varieties; color variations include purple, green, yellow, white and near-black. Even zucchini comes in dark green, medium-green, green-black, gray, yellow, white, round and striped (cocozelle type) varieties.

This sourcebook allows the gardener to visualize the variation within each vegetable group and also charts the vegetable varieties available through over 100 seed catalogs.

The sourcebook itself is intended primarily as a guide to available choices and to help you, decide what's best for you.

If you are considering the purchase of a rototiller, you might conclude from the sourcebook that both general front end and rear end tillers are too heavy but that a compact tiller is exactly what you need. Having made that decision, send for literature from several manufacturers listed in this sourcebook. Then, using the dealer addresses these manufacturers provide, go look at some machines. By this time, using both the sourcebook and the manufacturer's information, you should be well-equipped to make a final choice as to which one is right for you.

Gardening is not only great fun but also a practical way to provide yourself with vegetables. This source-book is intended to take some of the load off your shoulders. We think you will find it an essential reference tool, a real help in making the good choices and decisions that turn vegetable gardening into a truly enjoyable endeavor.

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