Review of “The Heirloom Life Gardener” (and a giveaway)
Today’s post is going to be a little different than usual. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds was kind enough to send me a copy of their book “The Heirloom Life Gardener” to review, so I’ll be doing that here. Plus, I have a giveaway for you (also from Baker Creek! YAYYYY!!!) and a freebie for everyone who enters the giveaway (that way you won’t feel so bad if you’re not the winner, amiright??)(NOTE: Giveaway ended 03/20/19)
Although I was not compensated monetarily for this review, I was given a free copy of the book and product to give away. However, all opinions are mine and were not influenced in any way.
If you really don’t want to read my book review (but you do, I did a fabulous job, LOL), you can just skip to the end to enter the giveaway (Giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Renee G, our winner!)
So, first, for the important stuff.
Title: The Heirloom Life Gardener Authors: Jere & Emilee Gettle with Meghan Sutherland Published by: Hachette Books (New York/Boston), April 2015 ISBN: 978-1-4013-2439-1
And if you’re moved to buy the book after my wonderful review, you can do that here.
I’m going to tell you right off the bat that this book rocks! Beautiful pictures: Check. Engaging story: Check. Useful information: Check. Yup. Everything you’re looking for (or should be).
I actually considered giving away my copy of the book to a second winner, but nope, I’m gonna be selfish and keep it. However, I may at some point in the future do another giveaway for the book…..hmmm….maybe just for email subscribers…..we’ll see!
First off, Jere clears up the confusion about the term “heirloom”. It isn’t a set-in-stone term, but usually means that a plant is open-pollinated, has some type of history, and typically tastes much better than its hybridized counterparts.
Open-pollinated, by the way, just means that a plant isn’t a hybrid. If you plant seeds from an open-pollinated plant, the next generation will look just like the parents. Not true of a hybrid plant.
As for history, heirlooms are usually at least 50 years old and have accumulated wonderful stories over the years. For instance, the author talks about the Mortgage Lifter tomato. Why such an unusual name for a tomato? Turns out the man who developed it in the 1940’s sold the plants for $1 each and was able to pay off his $6000 (!) mortgage in 4 years.
As for taste? If you’ve never had an heirloom tomato or zucchini, you just aren’t gonna get this one. They’re a completely different animal than their grocery store counterparts. Remember, grocery store vegetables are grown and selected for uniform shape, size and color, not taste (hence why most grocery store tomatoes taste like the plastic packaging they come in).
Grow the heirlooms. Eat the heirlooms. Make your tastebuds happy.
Early Life/Birth of Baker Creek
In the next few chapters, Jere talks about his early life. “Little House on the Prairie” anyone? Seriously, if you’ve ever wanted a simpler, homestead-type life, this chapter is going to get your little heart going pitty-pat. Trust me, I wanted to run right out and find myself a nice little country homestead.
Amazingly, Jere founded Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at the age of 17 – in his parents’ house. His mom must have been quite the long-suffering individual. He quickly outgrew that venue though, much to his mom’s relief, I imagine, and built his first store right down the road.
Things have expanded a bit since then, and they now have a place in Petaluma, CA as well called the Seed Bank, and (much to my surprise!), they own Comstock Ferre Co., right down the road from me in Wethersfield, CT! I haven’t been to Comstock Ferre in years, but now that I know who owns it, you know I’ll be paying them a visit very soon! Any excuse to buy more seeds!
If you’ve never been to Comstock Ferre and you live in the area, here’s their website. Pay them a visit, I’m going to!
Traveling the World
Wouldn’t you love to travel to Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand, all over the place just to discover different ancient cultures and their plant varieties? I would! Well, Jere did it! He brought home multitudes of different seed varieties from all those places.
Of course, this was pre-9/11, so it’s possible you (or I) would get arrested if we tried to do it now. <<sigh>> Well, it was a nice thought, but I’m too cute for jail.
How to Garden
An entire section here on how to get a garden going, soaker hoses, crop rotation, beneficial insects. He also gives a quick crop-by-crop harvesting guide, among other things. Really good information for beginning gardeners. Hmmm, nope, change that. Very good information for ANY gardeners! Maybe not quite as fascinating as his world travels, but more practical.
Vegetable by Vegetable Guide
And here is the real meat and potatoes of the book. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the first half of the book, the stories and anecdotes were wonderful, interesting reading, but the second half? Every gardener everywhere should have this book!
From amaranth to watermelon (in case you’re wondering, zucchini is under summer squash!), you get info on the history of your crop, growing tips, pests & diseases, seed saving tips and cooking tips. 129 pages of awesomeness!
My favorite part of this section were the tips on saving the seeds of each individual veggie. I’ve saved a few seeds in the past, but not to any great extent.
The thing is, seed saving is an awesome idea. Yup, the money savings are great, but there’s more. If you save the seeds from a particularly well-performing plant this year and grow them next year, then save the seeds from a well-performing plant that year, etc., within a couple of generations, you’ve got plants uniquely suited to your little corner of the world.
At that point, you’ve successfully created a landrace (doesn’t that sound special and official?) It simply means a plant that has adapted, through time, to its particular growing environment, from climate to rainfall, even to pest resistance. Really, it becomes the ideal crop for you. What could be better?
I hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Jere & Emilee Gettle’s awesome book. I believe you’ll find it as valuable and fun to read as I did, so I hope you’ll give it a try.
Thanks, as always, for reading. Feel free to pin the below pic on Pinterest if you’d like.
Otherwise, smile and have a crazy organic day!