Preview: This post shares my review of The Family Garden Plan by Melissa K. Norris.
Disclaimer: I received an advance digital copy of The Family Garden Plan for free to review. Subsequently, I purchased a paper back copy for my bookshelf. All opinions are my own.
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Determining How Much to Grow & Starting Seeds
The Family Garden Plan starts off with explaining how to plan your garden. Melissa gives lots of great ideas on how use the space you have to grow as much as you can. She shares how to determine the amount of each crop you should grow. There is a chart in the book that has suggested amounts of fruit and vegetables to plant per person. It is a great chart to help ensure that you don’t end up with 300 zucchini and 5 green beans.
One thing I want to mention though…If this is your first year growing a garden, please do NOT try to grow all your own food. You will be overwhelmed and end up hating gardening. If you haven’t grown a large garden before, start off SMALL. (I’ve got plans in my Resource Library that you can access for free just by subscribing to my weekly newsletter.)
Melissa discusses zones, micro-climates, and season extenders. She also gives you lists of cool season crops and warm season crops so you know what plants will do well in the spring and fall versus which ones are summer only crops.
Next, Melissa discusses seeds and how to start your own plants from seed. If you want to grow some unusual vegetables, you definitely need to know how to start your own seeds. She also includes a seed starting and planting chart so you know when is the best time to start your seeds.
Caring for Your Garden
Up next is a section on caring for your garden. This is often overlooked in many gardening books. Melissa includes organic pest control methods and even an all-natural spray to get rid of the bad bugs. The book also covers mulching methods and composting.
The only thing I that I have to disagree with is the use of hay as mulch in your garden. While Melissa does mention that hay may have weed seeds, as hay farmers, let me tell you…You do NOT want to use hay as mulch! Straw, maybe. Hay definitely not. It is full of weed seeds and you will be pulling weeds all summer long.
Harvesting & Preserving
Chapter 6 of the Family Garden Plan discusses bringing in the harvest and how to know when it’s time to pick your fruits and vegetables. There is a wonderful chart that explains how to determine if your crops are ripe and the best preserving methods for that crop. The chart is 7 pages long, and it includes most common vegetables and fruits. This was definitely my favorite part of the book!
There is a whole section on planting perennials such as fruit trees and berries and another section on herbs and edible flowers.
Finally, Melissa ends the book with a chapter called “Advanced Topics.” These topics include soil testing, a soil amendment chart, a crop rotation chart, and information on companion planting.
What I Learned From The Family Garden Plan
Overall, I feel this is a really well done book. I’ve been gardening for over 15 years and I learned several new things. She gave me some ideas of how to turn an unused east-facing side yard into a garden and what would grow successfully there.
The charts are so helpful, especially the harvest and preserving chart. I learned that you can harvest celery one stalk at a time if that’s all you need. I also learned how to cure potatoes properly.
This book will give you many new ideas on ways to increase your harvests if you are ready to take the next step in growing more food.
While I do feel that The Family Garden Plan will benefit beginning gardeners, I think it is especially written for someone who is hoping to grow a large portion of their own food. The book is full of beautiful pictures and so many charts that even experienced gardeners are sure to learn something new from this book.
If you would like to purchase your own copy of The Family Garden Plan, you can buy it on Amazon now.
I’ll wrap up my review of The Family Garden Plan with a quote I found particularly inspirational. – “A garden will teach you many lessons, and only some of them are about food.” Amen to that!