Books + Magazines The Backyard Gardener

Published on April 14th, 2017 | by Julie Finn


Crafty Book Review: The Backyard Gardener

The Backyard Gardener

The Backyard Gardener is the green thumb cheat sheet that you’ve always wanted. I can’t say enough good things about it!

If you’re a total gardening newb, then this is a book that you can follow like a manual, from prepping your soil to planting to harvesting to prepping your garden for the next growing season. If, like me, you know just enough about gardening to be dangerous (I can propagate rosemary like a boss and grow all the basil and chard that I’ll ever need, but I once let mint take over my ENTIRE front yard, the birds eat all of my strawberries every year, and I’ve never yet grown a tomato that looked right…), then you can use this book to get you to the next level, letting it convince you to companion plant and amend your soil and stop trying to grow spinach in the middle of the summer, etc.

For instance, my tomatoes? I’m watering them too much when they fruit, and that’s why they all split.

And even though I am not an advanced gardener, I’m willing to bet that if you are, you’ll enjoy reading this book, too. I’ve seen you advanced gardeners chatting together at parties, while I stand between you and try to nod intelligently–y’all LOVE to hear the tips and tricks of other advanced gardeners. You’ll love reading all about water bottle cloches and straw bale potatoes and that thing about blood meal that I do not think that I am going to try, because blood.


To make your gardening reference collection complete, the one thing that you’d need to add to The Backyard Gardener is a great reference that refers to both your specific growing zone AND your specific geographic area. One thing that I really like about this book is that although the author, Kelly Orzel, earned her horticulture degree in Texas (at a rival school to my own Texas university–Boo, Kelly Orzel!), she now lives and gardens in Maine, so her advice is all such that it does translate to all the growing zones, but gardening in Indiana, after growing up in the South, I’ve always found the need to seek out advice specific to Indiana. It’s important to know what’s native and what’s really invasive, because sure, multiflora rose is medicinal and I’m guessing that my property’s previous owner LOVED the way it looked, but it is invasive as hell and is out-competing all the wild black raspberries in my woods!

And now I’m off to correctly plant my spinach seeds for the first time EVER, thanks to The Backyard Gardener!

I received a free copy of The Backyard Gardener from the publisher, because I apparently can’t even plant spinach correctly without a horticulturist sitting me down and telling me to stop feeding it so dang much nitrogen.

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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