Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Review: The Backyard Orchardist and The Backyard Berry Book by Stella Ott

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received these books, free of charge, from  KSB Promotions,
for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about them.

Earlier this month I shared a wonderful guest post from Stella about selecting and planting healthy fruit trees and bushes, and today I have a review of both her books: 

backyard  orchadist book cover
First up-
The Backyard Orchardist: A complete guide to growing fruit trees in the home garden

For every gardener desiring to add apples, pears, cherries, and other tree fruit to their landscape here are hints and solid information from a professional horticulturist and experienced fruit grower. The Backyard Orchardist includes help on selecting the best fruit trees and information about each stage of growth and development, along with tips on harvest and storage of the fruit. Those with limited space will learn about growing dwarf fruit trees in containers.Also, included appendices include a fruit-growers monthly calendar, a trouble-shooting guide for reviving ailing trees, and a resource list of nurseries selling fruit trees.

The book is super easy to read and is literally packed with EVERYTHING you need to know about raising fruit trees in your back yard! We recently planted crab apple and Mayhaw trees in the backyard and already have fig, plum, satsuma and kumquat trees, So we were REALLY interested in reading the book and determining what we needed to do to keep our trees healthy and to help them produce more fruit. For example, I learned that we need to THIN out the plum tree when the plums are the size of my thumbnail, or it will cause it to produce fruit every OTHER year only. Didn't know that- but explains why it hardly had any plums last year and is loaded this year! The pruning and fertilizer chapters are also very informative, and have helped us with all of our fruit trees, even the ones not listed in the book (satsuma/kumquat)..

Some of the best diagrams and charts in the book show what pears and apple trees can be cross polinated and are disease free. Both of these are really great to help you make the RIGHT (and budget conscious) decision on what trees to plant! She also has a whole chapter for container gardening for those that don't have large back yards.If you want to grow fruit trees, THIS is the book to get! 

and now 

backyard berry bookThe Backyard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to growing berries, brambles & vine fruit in the home garden. 

Both the garden novice and the more experienced "green-thumb" will harvest bushels of hands-on advice from an experienced grower and professional horticulturalist.The Backyard Berry Book provides what is needed for any gardener to successfully grow everything from raspberries to grapes, currants to kiwifruit and more. 

The focus of this book is on Otto 'small fruit'- fruit that does not grow on trees but as a cultivated, perennial crop on small plants, canes, bushes, or vines. This includes strawberries, rhubarbs, brambles (raspberries and blackberries), blueberries, lingonberries, currants, gooseberries, grapes, and kiwi fruit. 

This is a really great reference book for the beginner who wants to grow berries in their backyard, garden, or container on the deck! Like the previous book, Stella gives excellent advice on which varieties to purchase, based on your needs and soil and zone area. The chapter on soil ph balance has plenty of handy diagrams and really helps you figure out what your plants need! For instance, I learned our blueberries probably didn't make it last year due to a water issue with the soil. Now we know for next year that we need a suitable irrigation to make sure the roots get lots of water at least once a week, as they don't draw water like other plants do. The insect and wildlife chapters are essential, as berries are like candy to pests and animals alike! 
We set up grape plants this year and these chapters have great advice on trellises and upkeep. The included trouble shooting section at the end of the book offer some last minute advice as well.

If you want to grow berries or fruit trees in your backyard, I HIGHLY recommend getting both of these books BEFORE you make any purchases or decision. Stella's advice will help you pick the best spot, set the soil correctly for what type of plant you are putting in, and then help you care for the plant correctly, to get the maximum fruit and long life from it!

The book duo would also make an excellent gift idea for the gardener, or back yard enthusiast!

About the Author: Stella Otto is the author of these 2  Benjamin Franklin Award books, as well as many feature articles, that offer practical, ready to use advice, and have appeared in Organic Gardening,Kitchen Garden, Hobby Farm Home, Country Journal and other national publications. She has also enjoyed sharing her expertise on numerous segments of "Home Matters" on the Discovery Channel and various gardening radio programs. She has over 16 years of hands-on experience as an orchard and farm market owner. Learn more at

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