Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Fruit Gardener's Bible

So, here's the back story on The Fruit Gardener's Bible: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruits and Nuts in the Home Garden. Many moons ago, Storey Publishing sent me a copy of this book for review. I looked through it right away, absolutely loved the looks of it and set it on the top stack of my Books to Be Reviewed. Then I burned a chicken on the stove, smoked the house out and apparently ruined this book. I didn't find out which books of mine had been totaled until just a few weeks ago and this title was on the list. I knew I liked the book already (and I really needed to write a review of it) and so I bought myself a new copy. For truly, I do like it and therefore had no qualms replacing it at my own expense. Before I continue on with this review, I really feel the need to both apologize to Storey as well as thank them for their patience. (If it's of any further interest to anyone, the lady at the cleaning company who told me that this book had been totaled, said that she had looked through it, liked it, and was going to buy a copy for herself! How's THAT?!)

Following that short story about the behind-the-scenes of this book review, I must also make a confession: I kill green things. I don't really mean to. I just do. If it's a plant, I'm liable to kill it. You might think it does not take a rocket scientist to over or under water a plant but I fear that it must because I tend to guess wrong. I need a lot of gardening help.

Despite my own personal belief that I cannot garden, I also have this annual hope that this will be the year that my thumb(s?!) turns green.

Last summer I discovered:

1. About 10 cherry trees on our property. No, we had never realized that they existed but they bore a bunch of cherries for us to enjoy! (We enjoyed them thoroughly.) I determined to pay attention to them and improve the fruit quality. (Hopefully my intent will not lead to their demise.)

2. I cannot kill blackberry bushes even if I do intend to do so.

I figured if cherry trees could grow unnoticed and without a lick of assistance, and blackberries never die, I should try my hand at a plum tree (which we planted) and raspberry bushes (which we also put into the ground.) Thus planted I began trying to figure out how to take care of them. Enter: The Fruit Gardener's Bible. This book both inspires and informs me. I am grateful for and in need of both.

For example, in learning about raspberries I learned which type are the hardiest (this is important for a person like me) and how to go about taking care of them. Then I also learned that a row of 10 plants can feed a family with fresh berries quite well AND leave excess for freezing and jamming. Mostly I confess to paying attention to the paragraphs about production and beauty which is what I find I must focus on to brave touching actual dirt which may or may not have a slug hiding in it. (I think much of my Fear of Gardening relates to the constant threat of accidentally touching a slug. I need to carry around a can of **INSTANT SLUG DEATH** and maybe I'll feel more comfortable.) There are also really pretty pictures all throughout this book and not a single one of them shows you what lurks in the mud which is somewhat deceiving, but it also calms fears.

In each fruit section, there includes "Fast Facts" which tells you which type of plant is likely to succeed in which region of the country. These fast facts include information on how big the plant is expected to grow and how much spacing should be given to each. If there are special care requirements, it tells you, and it tells you how long you should expect to wait for a newly planted tree or bush to start producing fruit. (This helps with impatience.) Looking specifically in the section about cherries, it also tells you how to prune different types, how to protected against birds, insects and various diseases (with pictures to clarify!) There are eleven pages devoted to cherries and cherry trees which is perfect for a beginning gardener like myself. I don't want a great deal of detail, but I do want enough not to kill my trees! This book is a very happy medium for me.

Chapters titles include:

  1. Fruits and Nuts in the Home
  2. What to Grow and Where
  3. Seasonal Care of Fruits and Nuts
  4. Strawberries
  5. Raspberries and Blackberries
  6. Blueberries
  7. Ribes, Elderberries, and Other Bush Fruits
  8. Grapes for Every Region
  9. Apples and Crab Apples
  10. Pears
  11. Peaches, Nectarines and Apricots
  12. Plums for Every Region
  13. Cherries, Sweet and Sour
  14. Nuts
  15. Improving Your Soil
  16. Getting Plants Off to a Good Start
  17. Pruning: Not Just for Trees
  18. Diseases, Insects, and Other Fruit Problems
  19. Wildlife Friends and Foes

Obviously this isn't a book that I'm reading straight through from cover-to-cover. Rather, it seems to be the perfect resource book that I've been leaving on our living room table. I snatch it up whenever I have a minute or two and read a little bit. Slowly I'm taking in the information. I like having this handy reference guide about and did I mention I also like the pictures?

Personally, I find The Fruit Gardener's Bible to be a fun and informative read.

Thank you, Storey Publishing, for shooting a copy my way in the first place.


Annette Whipple said...

:) You have the best stories...even if they are not so "best" when you are going through them.

I can't wait to hear about all of your gardening successes this summer! I think you and the cleaner soundly endorsed this book.

Last summer I learned to not plant twigs of blueberry bushes. Waste. Of. Money. Especially when you can't see them and run over one with the mower...

Carrie said...


Taia said...

One general comment about gardening in the Pacific Northwest and one about raspberries.
1) Our climate in the Pacific Northwest is more like England's than the rest of the US. Books by the Seattle Tilth Association, Sunset targeted for us, and Vegetable Gardening West of the Cascades are good general books for us. This is due largely to our consistently cool summer temperatures, especially at night.

2) Oregon Extension has good information on growing fruit in our area. Raspberries are a lot of work, due to weeding and transplanting, and take a lot of water. I haven't tried them, because we're on city water, but Twedt's has a great U-pick patch.

Sky said...

And Carrie makes the most sublime chocolate cherry ice cream. It surpasses any ice cream I ever had before or since!

Stephanie Kay said...

I'd love to have fruit growing in my backyard! My grandma always canned blackberry jelly from her much neglected blackberry bushes. Seriously. These things were out in the pasture and had a life of their own but always produced generously!

What I'd most like to grow are apples and strawberries. YUM!

Barbara H. said...

I sometimes say that I am guilty of negligent planticide. :-) Even when I don't forget about plants, I tend to do the wrong things to them. I keep myself now to a few hanging baskets and planters of flowers.

BerlinerinPoet said...

I kill all my indoor plants. I feel your pain.

Also, as a general warning, if you have raspberries, I may start randomly appearing at your house with mysterious red stains on my fingers. I LOVE raspberries.

Queen of Carrots said...

Dash is constructing a slug trap in the driveway. Maybe you can get your boys onto that. :-)

Bluerose said...

We planted apple, plum, peach, and pear trees, along with blueberry bushes last year. A few died, but amazingly most are still living. I think I may have to get this book to teach me how to insure their safety (because I don't have a green thumb in the slightest kind of way, even though I desperately wish I did).

I'm looking forward to your gardening advice through this next season, too! :)

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