Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries, a Book Review

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries by Andrea Bellamy is the gardening book for anyone interested in growing food in small spaces, and I can say without hesitation that it is a book that I will continue to use for years to come. 

You really can garden anywhere. Finding space is every small gardener's first task, and an entire chapter has been devoted to creative ways to garden even if you don't have a backyard.  As I wrote in a previous post, I started a backyard co-op in order to share my yard with a friend who has no yard at all!

This is the first gardening book for small spaces that I have read that encourages the reader to discover his or her own personal garden style to determine how the space should look before designing the layout of the garden. For example, should it be a formal or informal garden?  Will you integrate your edible plants with your ornamentals?  What gardens in the past have inspired you?

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries
"There is beauty in a garden, no matter how simple or how small."  
 Photo credit Jackie Connelly

One of the charms of this book are the incredibly beautiful photographs by Jackie Connelly. They are incredibly inspiring and make the book a pleasure to read.

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries
Photo credit Jackie Connelly

I found the section on plant families and crop rotation to be one of the most useful in the book.  I've been growing plants like zuchinni and tomoatoes in my raised bed each year, and because they are in the nightshade family I've been battling the same diseases year after year.  I realize that I am going to have to rotate the crops that I grow in my raised bed.

As an organic gardener I an glad this book focuses on gardening organically.  Included in this book are tips about where not to garden (such as near heavily polluted streets as this will leave a layer of grime on your plants) and help for common soil problems.  There are step-by-step instructions about how to prepare containers and build raised beds, and also how to compost and control insects organically. 

I found out that I am not alone in never having grown cilantro successfully, so if you've tried it and failed don't be discouraged!  This book includes a short list of the easiest edibles to grow, and handy information about each one can be found in the "Edibles A to Z" chapter.

My own little container / raised bed garden has been growing for exactly three months now, and you can see a little more of the progress. The peppers and tomatoes are being grown in containers.  I love nothing better that a homegrown tomato so I am in heaven whenever one ripens:

Bell pepper
Patio variety container tomato, Serendipity Handmade
Pole Bean, Serendipity Handmade

At the end of the summer growing season I'll turn to this book again for guidance about harvesting and storing your own seeds.  I would definitely like grow some of the same varieties again next year.  And I am considering a winter garden this year as well.

Andrea also blogs over at Heavy Petal, so be sure to pop over and check out some of her recipes, tips (like this great post on Low Maintenance Edibles), and garden-related freebies that complement her book.  

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries is a cheerful, enjoyable, informative read, and I recommend this book highly if you want to create an edible garden in a small space.

Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of this book but my opinions are my own!

1 comment:

  1. I wish we had more sunbeams in our newish yard. Container and small gardening is all I have ever done. I have some lovely plants here but no produce. The shade spread further than I had expected it too. :(


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