• Backyard Gardener by Kelly Orzel

The Backyard Gardener
Signed Copy



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* Signed by Kelly Orzel *

Grow delicious (and gorgeous!) vegetables, herbs and flowers in your backyard with this comprehensive guide. The Backyard Gardener is every organic gardener’s must have, rife with mouthwatering photographs, helpful planting suggestions, and tried-and-true techniques.

Dive deep into crop rotation. This is the key to the organic kitchen garden—and how the book is organized. Each section provides detailed guidance on everything from germination, succession and companion planting to how-to harvest, store and preserve your vegetables, herbs and flowers. Learn about innovative growing techniques (have you ever grown a potato tower? Or heard of straw-bale gardening) to old-fashioned—yet super effective—season extension practices that make the most of small-spaces and growing in less-than-ideal conditions.

From raising healthy vegetables, controlling pests with homemade remedies, starting and saving seeds to Kelly’s fantasy sheet mulch recipe and maximizing the space in your garden, you’ll have everything at your fingertips to be successful right out of the gate!

Product Details:
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Lyons Press (April 1, 2017)
Language: English
Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.5 x 9 inches

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April 1, 2017

When I sat down to write The Backyard Gardener I thought that, all the important things I’ve learned about growing, I’ve learned by sinking my hands deep into the dirt and just gardening. Gardening isn’t nearly as complicated as some may think. The only prerequisite to be a successful gardener is a love of plants. Plants are resilient and I’m a believer that a garden should evolve over time. If something didn’t thrive in a spot one year, dig it up and grow it somewhere else the next, or try a different crop. I’m not ashamed of my mistakes—or as I call them, experiments—in the garden. Many times these were the moments in which I learned the most.

In the winter, when I’m planning my garden, I want it all. I have fantasies about fruits trees, vegetables and herbs in excess, and flowers blended seamlessly together in a way that evokes English cottage gardens, something both beautiful and productive. My notion of what a kitchen garden is, is eclectic, following the lead of its gardener. Mine is meant to provide food, flavor and beauty for me and my family. What you need to ask yourself is, what should it be for you? Grow what you enjoy. There is no greater waste than raising Brussels sprouts when you have no intention to eat them or flowers you won’t cut.

And don’t be fooled into thinking you need lots of space to grow. Most crops can be grown in small spaces or containers if they’re the right size. Bad soil? Improve it. Then there are ways to make the soil work two—or three—times as hard throughout the season by succession sowing, plant stacking and companion planting. These are a few of the growing practices which have been passed down from generation to generation, but are being lost over time. I am encouraged to see younger generations picking up a trowel and digging about the yard, patio, where ever, because it’s so important to keep these gardening traditions alive. There is a reason that my grandmother advised me to follow my peas with broccoli—it works!

While here is no substitute for good ol’ trial and error in the garden, a good garden book can be a wonderful guide/tool. Over the years I’ve discovered that there wasn’t a single book that had it all. Or worse, sometimes the books I read contradicted each other. Personally, my favorites tend to be British. Using organic growing techniques, they employ a holistic approach, which I’ve used and perfected in my own garden. This book is a compilation of everything I’ve learned from experimenting, friends and a great deal of reading. My hope is that The Backyard Gardener speaks to you and inspires you to become a more successful gardener.

I laid out this book the same way I garden. The first couple chapters help the amateur (and even the experienced) gardener learn their way around the garden. They cover the basics: soils, tools, what plants need to thrive and how to propagate them. In Chapter 4, I explain my favorite, and most used, organic growing techniques for the garden, what they are, what they’ll do and how they do it.

Chapters 5 and 6 are the biggies: fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Here is where I take a massive detour from the other kitchen garden books on your shelf. Organized into sections based on how they should be planted in the garden. (I never understood why others don’t this, when it makes so much more sense.) While most authors cover plants alphabetically, I divided the plants into groups based on their familial relationships and cultural needs. Legumes, brassicas, fruits, roots, leaf perennial and other crops. When grown together in a specific sequence, fertilization will almost make care of itself! Learn to let your garden work for you—not the other way around. \

A month-by-month garden chore guide sums up annual tasks. When should I be starting my seeds, harvesting asparagus, planting onion sets or cutting back my rhubarb? This section provides a roadmap, telling you when you’re on the right track—when you’re not. Your schedule can always be tweaked and altered, but having a place to start is invaluable.

My garden is still evolving. Each year I test new dahlias and basil varieties, but always save room for staples like my ‘San Marzano’, ‘Costeluto Genovese’ and ‘Supersweet 100’ tomatoes. The beds will get rotated, but I may move underperforming peonies to a sunnier spot, or adding seaweed to my compost mix just to see what happens. This is what a garden should be, a place to derive beauty, inspiration and delicious food.

This is not simply a garden reference book, I wanted to tell the story of the garden. I’ve combined scientific facts with personal experiences, anecdotes and time-honored tradition to be your guide.

Anne Shirley, of Anne of Green Gables, said, “Tomorrow is fresh, there are no mistakes in it”. The same is true for the garden: there will always be a next season. So go out, get your hands dirty and happy gardening!