I love this book!
Sure, it sounds like an extremely biased opinion to make at the outset of any review but honestly folks this is a keeper!! Not only is it well-organised, well-written and flows beautifully but it’s so practical as well.
For any home gardener who’s ever dabbled, or wished they could, in growing fruit trees within the confines of their yard then the Home Orchard Hanbook is the book for you. It takes you all the way from tree selection (rootstock and fruitwood selection tips), planting, pruning, fertilising and watering. Then it offers a heap of recipes for the bountiful harvest – alternatives to preserving or turning into jam.
The book was written by Cem Akin and Leah Rottke both members of The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. The foundation’s mandate is to plant fruitful trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming, strengthen communities, and improve the surrounding air, soil and water.
While the book was obviously targeted at Western gardeners – those of us who certainly don’t lack from hunger – it does challenge us to rethink how we plant our gardens and why. In a sombre way it’s almost another stab at growing ornamental trees in place of those that offer productive harvests.
However, this is not the intention of the book – merely to encourage people to supplement their plantings with organic produce. It offers practical tips on how to get the most successful harvests by adhering to the basics of growing fruit trees. While seemingly simple, it is an oft missed part of many books that offer advice in fruit trees for the home gardener.
If there were a criticism to make of this book it would be the lack of information on grafting fruit trees. With most home gardens getting smaller and streetscapes diminshing it makes sense that fruit trees need to offer multiple varieties upon the same rootstock – see What is a Fruit Salad Tree? if you’re unsure what I’m talking about. While the book did mention this it offered very little in the way of practical how-to of developing these trees and with a mandate such as the one held by this organisation it did seem a little odd.
Regardless, apart from this one minor criticism, the Home Orchard Handbook does live up to its sub-title “A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees Anywhere”.