I bought my first house 25 years ago. It was an old Victorian in dire need of renovation. The yard was in even worse shape. Previously a rental, the landlord had paved part of the backyard with gravel to create a parking lot. The rest of the yard was a jumble of vines including poison ivy. I was literally starting with nothing. I didn’t even own any garden tools.
Over the next ten years, I tamed the yard. It was a period of trial and error, finding the best tools for the job, finding plants and seeds, learning to compost and most importantly, finally learning to identify poison ivy to which I am horribly allergic. That experience shaped the frugal gardener that I am now.
I wish I had had this book when I bought that house. It would have saved me a lot of time, energy and especially money. Maureen Gilmer has written one of the best how-tos I have ever read. Page after page, I found myself nodding in agreement. Following her clear step by step instructions, anyone can create a wonderful garden with a minimal outlay of money.
There are so many things that I love about this book. She tells the reader what tools to buy, and more importantly, what tools not to buy. She demystifies composting. She makes clear that organic gardening is not just better for the environment but is actually cheaper than using commercial fertilizers. Best of all, she not only tells you what materials you need, she also tells you where to find them. She talks about yard art, drip irrigation, propagation, seed starting and cold frames, all using free or recycled materials.
I only have two small quibbles with the material. She devotes an entire chapter to online sources for tools, plants and seeds, all of which are reputable dealers. What she neglects to mention are the many seed swap sites, that are also well-known and reputable, where you can trade your excess seeds for the seeds you desire for the cost of postage.
I admire the amount of space she devotes to improving and maintaining the health of your soil but she doesn’t go into the no-till method which is thought to be even better for your soil. It also saves you the cost of buying or renting a rototiller.
These are only minor omissions. I agree with everything she says and have field tested many of her ideas myself. I would recommend this book to both newbie gardeners and more experienced gardeners who are looking for ways to save money.
Review copy courtesy of Cool Springs Press