A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. ~James Allen
I am very excited about this book review. It isn’t every day I know the author. And she is quite the author of her own blog and her new book, How To Reap The Most From What You Sow. I thought it would be fun to meet the author before I reviewed her book. And she graciously agreed to an interview. So without further adieu, meet Gardening Jones or GJ as she is known to many friends and fans….
How did gardening get your interest?
My father is a flower gardening enthusiast and I inherited his love for the outdoors and working with the soil. It was when my son was diagnosed with borderline hyperactivity that I turned my attention to growing natural fresh food, and preserving the harvest.
What inspired you to write this book?
While I am thrilled to see that there are increasing numbers of people who are turning to growing their own groceries for a variety of reasons, I was dismayed at the amount of misinformation that is on the internet. There are also many people who seem to want to make growing your own food complicated, and really it isn’t hard to do at all.
A simple straight-forward how to manual, on a specific topic such as ‘increasing your harvest’, is a positive addition to the information I already have available on the blog and the videos on YouTube.
Why did you decide to self publish?
After a great deal of research I found that most publishing companies won’t even consider this topic of publication until you already have been published- a Catch-22 that steers the new writer directly towards self-publishing. I also knew it would save a lot of time and make me able to get the info out that much faster- hopefully in time for the harvest season.
What is the most interesting vegetable you have grown?
The answer to that would change every fall as, like many other gardeners, I love trying new veggies. The first was probably Kohlrabi, I had never heard of it before. Last year there were Vietnamese Fuzzy Gourds in the garden, really a glorified Zucchini but fun to see. This year I am trying Broom Corn and Kale Walking Stick- to see if I can craft some useful items from the garden.
What do you think is the hardest vegetable to grow?
Of course that depends on where you live, but for me it’s Okra. Not just difficult, I have never been able to grow it. This year I hope will be different, as I received a lot of great advice from my friends on our page Gardening (in real life). No fancy-schmansy magazine type gardening pictures there- just real gardens worked by real people, and practical advice learned by doing.
What do you think is the easiest vegetable to grow?
Just kidding, I would say Zucchini. Actually the first piece of hands-on practical gardening advice I received from a farmer was “You want to grow zucchini? You need two things- an old pile of manure, and a seed.”
It doesn’t get any easier than that.
I keep my garden clean and simple and use practical information I have learned from those much older than I am; from people who grew their own food before there were chemicals to use, and without the help of TV shows, commercials and the internet to tell them what products to buy. I grow organically because I can.
Likewise I aim to keep information on how to grow food simple; how to deal with pests, also simple; and most certainly, putting your food by- simple.
My desire is to help bring food gardens back to the everyday person and to make it rewarding enough so more people will join in.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a vegetable garden?
Do it! Start out easy, get your hands dirty. Find a gardener or two who are willing to help get you started -we really are a sharing bunch.
Ask questions, but if you find your answers online- check at least 2 sources. Pretty soon you’ll find out who you can turn to or what sites you can depend on.
Most importantly, relax and enjoy yourself… remember, all it takes is a zucchini seed and an old pile of manure to be a gardener.
GJ is quite a character, honest as they come and you can see an accomplished gardener. I have learned more from her Facebook page, Gardening (in real life), her FB Group, Gardenaholics Anonymous, and her blog than any book (except maybe her new book). I frequently turn to GJ for help when I am starting a new veg or having trouble with a tried and true veg in the garden. She makes it so easy as you will see when you read her book.
How to Reap the Most from What You Sow: Simple tips to get more produce from what you’re already planting.
by Gardening Jones
Paperback: 46 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (May 25, 2012)
Amazon Price: $11.99 (Paperback)
In a Few Words
The premise of the book is to provide you with interesting tidbits about growing fruits and veggies. By using these tried and true techniques you can be assured of an increased yield from your garden. I am still a novice veg gardener so I will take any advice from an experienced grower that I can get. And these techniques come right from GJ with her 30 years of gardening as well as from her heritage of experienced gardeners. She has included what seem to be the most popular grown food items including fruits, herbs and mostly vegetables. This is not a how to grow veggies book, but how to grow them better book. I can grow a tomato, but if I want to get the most fruit out of the plant, I can follow her very important suggestions (which I intend to do) to ensure more fruit will be produced. Tomatoes are tricky to grow here so I need to get the most out of these treats as I can before the cursed blight comes a callin’.
What I Liked
GJ has arranged her book in alpha order so you can easily find what you are looking for. She has words of wisdom in every section. Things like, how to easily plant those tiny carrot seeds so you don’t waste one seedling or planting your lettuces in a shadier area so once the heat comes, they won’t bolt or taste bitter (did that and I am loving it). Of course I could have used some of these ideas before I started my garden….like give beans more room. Well mine are tightly planted now, but I still hope to see some beans grow. Next year I am spreading them out more.
I also love the fact that she has included some interesting veggies such as Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, kohlrabi and horseradish. These are plants GJ has grown successfully and she thinks we should grow if we have the room. Of course I keep finding ways to add more room.
Not So Much
If you are an experienced veg gardener, I don’t know if this book will help you, but I think it is worth the money to discover some more gardening wisdom especially if it means more veggies from your plants. And who doesn’t want more homegrown veggies? The only negative thing I can say about the book is that it is too short. OK this is not really a negative. And it was so interesting and useful that it left me wanting more. More tidbits, more interesting facts; actually so much more information I realized GJ could probably write additional books if she so chooses (and I hope she chooses) to continue to help each of us become better gardeners.
GJ quotes her father in her book as saying,
“A plant’s only purpose is to grow enough to reproduce. That’s it. Plain, simple. If you encourage or even threaten that, you can get it to produce more.”
So as GJ puts it, “By using the way a plant reproduces you can produce more.” These simple words hooked me, and had me reading about veggies I do not grow, but I bet I will be trying them in the future.
You couldn’t find a better teacher and mentor than GJ, and she continues to nurture more gardeners with this delightful book. I like any book that is easy to read, concise and to the point especially where practical matters like veg gardening are concerned. This book definitely meets my criteria for a great veggie gardening book.
“Did you know that pollinators are responsible for pollinating nearly one-third of every bite of food we eat, or that the global value of crops pollinated by bees is estimated to be nearly $217 billion? These invaluable creatures are facing troubling declines in the U.S. The Pollinator Partnership (P2) is the world’s largest organization dedicated exclusively to pollinator issues, supporting bees, butterflies, bats, birds, and more; and P2’s efforts are working to reverse and prevent declines.” Pollinator Partnership
Next up on the blog: There is still time to get in a post for Seasonal Celebrations revealed on the 21st. I hope you will join me for the Seasonal Celebrations meme.
As June ends, it will be time to look at another Simply The Best native plant growing in my garden.
I hope you will join me for my posts, every other Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. There will be a new post tomorrow.
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