Home & Garden

The Backyard Gardener – Kelly Orzel

I received an e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for my unbiased review. 

4 Stars

I recently bought my first house and it just so happens to have raised garden boxes already. So when I saw this book pop up on NetGalley, I thought, “What timing!” and requested the ARC.

In reading this book, I learned a lot about gardening – soil, plants, bugs, additives, tools, etc. I did end up spending a lot of time looking up new terms. “What is a cucurbit?” From a technical writing background and a beginner’s standpoint, I wanted the author to define terms to me in the text or as sidebars. She did occasionally define a term, and often when she did she’d repeat the definition more than once.

Definitions aside, this was a great book with a lot of useful information. I wouldn’t recommend it for casual reading, but if you’re planning to have a garden for the first time, it’s a great place to start and keep as a reference. I really loved the monthly “garden checklists” the author included at the end. It’s helpful to have a monthly guide. As soon as I’m done tearing back the overgrowth, I’ll be using them to help me plan my garden.

If I could ask for one other thing, it would have been sample garden plans. For example, if you have just one box, here’s what to grow together; if you have two boxes, grow these; and so forth. She describes in the book what kinds of plants grow together, but it’s still overwhelming to try to pull all that information out of the book and build an actual garden plan for the first time. 

A version of this review first appeared on Goodreads on April 5, 2017.


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