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Strawberries, Gooseberries, Kiwi and Mulberries, white and red Currant, Blueberries are uncommon? Beach >>Plum and 22 varieties are described in a very elaborate way. I could not find anything new, Cornelian Cherry are uncommon, because they do not taste very good fresh from the tree.Maybe the book is for beginners, that do not know any fruit. Maybe the book should have had a different title and description.
I keep this book on my desk because it makes me dream of what I want in my garden in later years. When I first checked it out, I was thinking how fabulous this book was and surely these fruits looks great and must grow really well in California. And then I saw these fruits are hardy here, so up North! I always regarded fruit growing as something unattainable, something they did way down south, with oranges, bananas, peaches... Here, apples. And apples again. Strawberries if you're lucky. But this book opened my mind not only on the fact that we have so much more then apples around here but we have possibilities most of us don't know about simply because we don't find it in markets! What a revelation!
Since then, I got myself the first suggestion in the book, the Juneberry, a great tree that can go as cold as a USDA Zone 3! The first year I planted it, I got 3 cups of delicious berries. It's a success to say the least. I am already planning more introductions of uncommon fruits based on this book and I also became an avid reader of Mr. Reich's blog, a great reference on gardening.
I can't recommend this book enough, if you felt desperate to have fruits in your garden and live up North like me, this book is a must.
This book is so cool. I can't even say it enough. Every new chapter I found myself exclaming "Oooh! I want to grow that!!" It is a very fun and interesting read for the gardener who has it all. It also contains enough practical advice and information for an already experienced gardener to make informed purchasing decisions and get started growing these unusual fruits.
While it is very informative, this book is not an exhaustive resource on any specific plant, so don't buy it if you don't expect to do further research on the plants you choose to grow. I don't consider this a drawback, as no book can be expected to exhaustively cover the cultivation of so many species, but that doesn't stop people complaining.
It's also probably not an ideal book for a beginning gardener, unless you are a beginning gardener who know that you absolutely want a garden full of unusual fruit plants. You probably want to look for something that covers more general gardening how-to's. This book focuses on descriptions and cultivation of the 23 species of fruit plants, and won't help you grow tomatoes.
If you are an avid gardener or botanist, or just interested in plants or fruit, this is a really fantastic read. It would also make a great gift for any plant-nerds in your life. There is a lot of great information on plants that are really hard to find reliable resources about.
In order for me to want a book in my library, it has to be a better reference than the web; and, for me, this book has proved its worth. I would definitely recommend it to gardeners who are interested in unusual fruit (and/or native fruit trees); particularly those living in the temperate US. I purchased this book because I had a number of these plants already; and I thought it would be nice to have a single reference to go to for my clove currants, amelanchier, persimmon, etc. There is also a lot of good information about cultivars - which would be helpful in selecting plants.
After reading Mr. Reich's other book (
Landscaping With Fruit
), i got pretty excited about trying to grow a few of the plants it discussed. However, the 2-3 page description of each was only enough to get me interested, and not enough to guide the actual selection and maintenance of the plants.
To address that problem, i got this book. It contains a subset of the fruits listed in the other book, ignoring the more common plants and instead focusing on the ones for which a gardener might be hard-pressed to find reliable information. (For example: even the edible plants expert at my local nursery had no idea juneberries were edible.)
Each chapter focuses on a specific plant, and provides a thorough overview. Everything from the history to the plant, its growing habits, cultivation techniques, soil and sun preferences, and so on are listed. For the more baffling fruits (pawpaw, medlar, etc) there are even tips on how to get to the edible parts of the fruit. A center section has 50-odd color pictures of the plants and the fruits.
What keeps the book from being perfect is that Mr. Reich has way too much information in some places, and way too little in others. In several of the chapters, there's a protracted discussion of how breeders might want to try to modify the plant to get better, hardier, or tastier fruits. I doubt many backyard gardeners have the sort of time, energy, space, money, and resources to engage in a selective breeding program. Likewise, i doubt anyone planning to engage in a selective breeding program needs a book as general as this. In other chapters, Mr. Reich wastes hundreds of words saying what a few sketches could have shown. The section on how to prune hardy kiwis was baffling, and though it did contain three very simple sketches, they only added to the confusion by having very little to do with the text. (If i'm lucky, his other book,
The Pruning Book: Completely Revised and Updated
, will tell me what i need to know about pruning kiwis.)
While it's easy to skip the sections discussing potential future potential breeding directions, the verbal quagmire in other sections leaves the reader certain that there's something dreadfully important buried within, if only they could untangle the words.
So, in all, if you want to try your hand at growing jujubes or beach plums or several other esoteric fruits, you'll learn a lot from this book. Unfortunately, it may not be the only book you need. And, as always, if you can, find a local knowledgeable person who can save you the trouble of finding out the hard way if any of the diseases or pests mentioned run rampant in your area.
Overall, I thought this book was excellent and contains great information on the uncommon fruits. Specific pruning recommendations for each plant are great because this info is hard to find elsewhere. I'm not giving this book 5 stars because the start of each chapter does not list the zone and size of the described plants. If this information was included, it would be much faster for me to determine which plants I could use without having to scan the chapter or search online.