Book Review of Backyard Gardening by Peter Greenfield

I really liked how Mr Greenfield began his book by comparing, with specific examples, the conventional farmer to the organic farmer. He explains the very different the approaches are from the moment they think of planting, long before the seeds are actually in the ground. He then moves into the four major principles that govern organic farming. Then he introduces how to take it a step further to permaculture.


Each chapter has a similar simplistic breakdown whether talking about types of soil or the challenges of weeds. This makes this book ideal for the gardener who is dreaming of what they want to design, the farmer who has begun gardening but wants more efficiency and/or balance, or one who has been farming for decades. Each chapter has an overview and explanation. Then it is broken down into subheadings of what may work best and how one goes about evaluating and improving their land. Something like crop rotation is not mind blowing, but it can be overwhelming. He breaks it down to four grow seasons and it seems completely simplistic, especially after reading why it is so important to soil health, and preventing pests. Or that radishes deter cucumber beetles so planting them together is beneficial.

The writing is clear and direct, explaining both the background and the basic information. The layout of each chapter with the text features and the sub sections make it very easy to read. The book can be read just as it’s written or one can go back to a particular chapter and quickly find the information wanted by skimming through the headings. 

Clearly this book can be read for educational purposes cover to cover, but then kept as an exceptional resource for years to come. I find that while I know a lot of companion planting pairings, there are so many more that I don’t know or that I have forgotten. And while learning about mulching is important for the beginner gardener, I might focus more on rereading the section of harvesting and saving my seeds. This is a strong, all-around resource for gardeners. Overall there is a feeling of imminent success available to all gardeners through simple steps and a well thought out plan.

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