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Review: Preparing A Vegetable Garden From The Ground Up (Stephanie Suesan Smith)

I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write a post for Stephanie last month. She asked me to review her book Preparing A Vegetable Garden From The Ground Up and I was more than happy to.


Gardening books tend not to suffer as much as other genres from the terminal problem of filler. Most of my favourites are big coffee-table types with lots of pictures and relatively terse guidelines.

If only that were the case with books about other topics! I understand why it happens. A writer has a great idea and needs to pad it out to please his publishers and justify charging £8.99. I just wish it weren’t so!

That’s why a lot of writers could take a cue from Stephanie Suesan Smith and her “popcorn books”. This guide condenses oodles of gardening wisdom into 42 pages. It’s ideal for beginners – covering everything from soil types to scientific nomenclature. It also includes a few scrumptious tidbits about container vegetable gardening, such as avoiding planting water-loving plants with those that prefer drier conditions.

What’s covered?

There are eight chapters, each between five and twelve pages, that cover the basics of starting a vegetable garden from scratch. The advice is applicable to all garden types and accounts for those growing in containers, on poor soil and in bigger areas – drip irrigation systems, for example, are covered. You’ll also learn about plant care, harvesting and how to get rid of common pests.

I was pleased that gardeners with smaller spaces were kept in mind. Most people live in cities or suburban areas these days and approaches like Mel Bartholomew’s “square foot gardening” are included.

There is also a strong explanation of how to adapt plant choices to different zones in the context of considerations like chilling hours, hardiness and soil type.

Who is the book good for?

It’s a beginner’s guide. That said, there are little nuggets of advice scattered through the book that make it worth a read for more experienced gardeners. The fact that it can be read in an hour or two is another bonus.

Where to buy?

The book is available from Amazon on both Kindle and as a paperback.

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