Book Review: The Backyard Berry Book

April 8, 2011

The Backyard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to growing berries, brambles, and vine fruit in the home garden was written by Stella Otto in 1995. This is a very detailed book outlining growing berries.

Section I is titled “Getting to the Roots – Fundamentals of Small Fruit Growing.” This includes chapters on selecting the right site, plant selection and propagation, berry botany, soil nutrition and pH, pest control strategies, insect: friend or foe, disease identification, and wild pests such as birds. Section II is the beginning to gets into the actual plant species, such as strawberries and rhubarb. Section III is brambles, with a chapter covering raspberries and cousins thimbleberries and wineberries, and second chapter on blackberries. Section IV is bush fruit, including chapters on blueberries, lingonberries, and currants and gooseberries. Section V, is on vine fruit, covering the general characteristics and culture of grapes, bunch grapes, muscadine grapes, and kiwifruit. The last section is devoted to resources, such as troubleshooting, a seasonal activity calendar, nurseries, associations, publications, further reading, glossary, and index.

The first thing I noticed when I picked up this book and thumbed though it is how there were only drawings, not pictures. The book has a total of 262 pages not including the appendix like sections, yet the book has a listing of 92 drawings. This means that every 2-3 pages, there will be a drawing.

I think it is a very informative book, however. It has wonderful graphs telling you went to do certain things for certain plants, talks about different varieties of a berry based on use, disease, and comments, and walks you through pests, soil, and pruning. Admittedly, the drawings are a bit of a turn off, but I think this is a pretty good book devoted to just berry fruit.

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