Sugar Snaps and Strawberries


Sugar Snaps and Strawberries:Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Garden
by Andrea Bellamy

224 pages
Timber Press, 2011
List price: $19.95




There's a plethora of edible gardening books on the market today, following the rising trend of growing your own. It can be difficult to choose one to guide you as you begin your own vegetable garden. No need to limit yourself to just one, but be sure Sugar Snaps and Strawberries makes its way to your gardening bookshelf.

More than 65 fruits, vegetables, and herbs are profiled in detail, but that takes up less than half the book. The rest tells how to plant, how to deal with potential problems including pests, and features ideas on ways to make the best use of your small space, if that's all you have in which to grow it.

Besides being an invaluable guide for cultivating, as an amateur photographer I was impressed with the quality of the images (by Jackie Connelly) throughout the book. This is simply a fine piece of informational, inspiring and winning work. My copy is going to end up dog-eared, I just know it.

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Note to the publisher: I almost hate to add this - I like the book so much. While aesthetically, I find the softer color of print used throughout the book to be attractive (and I LOVE the font), black would have made it easier to read, especially in low light and on pages where a colored or printed background was used. Just sayin'.



Andrea Bellamy is a professional writer and the creator of Heavy Petal, an acclaimed blog that focuses on urban, organic vegetable gardening. Heavy Petal has been featured in Sunset and Canadian Gardening and has been profiled on Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge.





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The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

Fun With Winter Seed Sowing


Fun With Winter Seed Sowing
by Monica Milla

37 pages
Garden Faerie Press, 2008
List price: $15 (shipping & handling extra)
Electronic PDF version: $10





Monica Milla is passionate about gardening. A Master Gardener, she has been involved in a number of unique local gardening projects. Equally unique is the concept of winter seed sowing - sowing seeds in the dead of winter - and expecting them to grow.  But as one of those who was skeptical about it all, I simply had to try it.

What do you know? It works! Milla breaks it all down in her book, Fun With Winter Seed Sowing. Everything you need to know about this technique of jump-starting the growing season is here, with photographs and easy-to-follow instructions. There are also extensive lists of what to grow and other resources for further reading.

The book itself might be considered more of a spiral-bound manuscript (with sturdy plastic covers), and at only 37 pages, may seem a bit pricey, but it's worth every penny for its thorough treatment of the subject and would be perfect as a textbook for a class on how to winter sow. Milla even offers a discount on orders of eight or more copies. For more information, visit her website.


Monica Milla has over 20 years' experience as a writer and editor, working primarily in technical and marketing communications for high-tech companies. She has written many gardening articles and authors two blogs. The Garden Faerie is published once a week for annarbor.com and covers gardening tips, plant info, gardening events, and trips to gardens and garden centers. Garden Faerie's Musings is her personal blog, also primarily about gardening, which often shows what's blooming in her garden.

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The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

and I shall have some peace there


by Margaret Roach

260 pages
Grand Central Publishing, Feb. 23, 2011
List price: $25.99



In our dream world, while still young and job marketable, some of us leave a lucrative position in a job that others may envy, and we go off to the woods to find peace and tranquility. Of course, no one really does that, do they? Margaret Roach did.

Her new book, and I shall have some peace there, speaks of the desires in all of us. Perhaps her memoir isn’t your story, but the day to day life that makes such a drastic departure from what she had lived every day for 15 years as the editorial director of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, is part of that proverbial human condition.

Roach’s story resonated with me, as one who left regular employment in 2003, knowing my lifestyle would have to change, if I were to be able to grasp the brass ring that had dangled elusively before me for so many years. But I am married and have the luxury of another income. Roach did not.



Kudos to Margaret (I feel like we're on a first-name basis after reading her book), for taking the risk and listening to the inner voice that called, assuring her that it was what she needed to do. The voice was a whisper at times, but still she heard it and persisted until she came through on the other side. This is the story of her return to a love of writing, nature, and the garden.


Margaret Roach has been a columnist at the New York Times, fashion editor at Newsday, the first garden editor for Martha Stewart Living magazine, and the editorial director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. In 2008 Roach left New York City for her home upstate, where she is a consultant and avid gardener, keeping fans up to date on her blogs A Way to Garden and The Sister Project. Roach is the author of A Way to Garden, named Best Garden Book of the Year by the Garden Writers' Association of America, and Groundcovers, part of the Burpee American Gardening Series, and co-authored The Natural Habitat Garden.

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The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

Crocuses: A Complete Guide to the Genus

Crocuses: A Complete Guide to the Genus
by Jānis Rukšāns

280 pages
Timber Press, January 2011
List price: $45.00




It's not often that you see a book that claims to be a complete guide about anything that truly is complete, but Crocuses: A Complete Guide to the Genus lives up to its title - at least for now. As is the case in the rest of the botanical world, new species are being discovered all the time. Currently, there are around 100 species of crocus found the world over and every one of them is in here.

My experience with crocuses is not unlike that of other gardeners. I knew of the commonly available varieties - those rays of sunshine that usher in spring with charming, delightful delicacy. In recent years, I was introduced to the fall-blooming species, including Crocus sativus - saffron crocus - from which the spice is taken. This book contains 300 color photographs and they alone opened my eyes to the richness of the genus, of which I'd previously had no idea.

Rukšāns is one of the foremost authorities on crocuses and not surprisingly, has a crocus cultivar named for him. (It's gorgeous, with stripes on the outside of its petals.) He wrote Crocuses in language that can be understood by the everyday gardener, but this book will likely be more appealing to those who wish to gain a more detailed and thorough look at the genus. 


Jānis Rukšāns has been growing bulbs since age twelve and since 1991 has operated his own bulb nursery in his native Latvia, specializing in rare and unusual bulbs. He has taken part in several expeditions searching for new bulbs throughout Europe and Central Asia.






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The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.