Friday, March 22, 2013

How to Buy the Right Plants, Tools & Garden Supplies by Jim Fox: A review

This is a short book, but it is chock full of advice and information for gardeners on everything from how to read and understand a plant tag to choosing the best tools for your purposes and where to site and establish your plants where they will be happiest. It gives us some common sense rules that, if followed, will help to make us successful gardeners.

The book is divided into seven chapters, starting, quite logically, with one that reveals what you need to know before you buy anything. Things like your climate zone, soil types, what purpose your garden will serve, and how much money you can spend on it. That last one, in my experience, is the toughest and the bottom line keeps getting erased and rewritten once you get into it.

The writer, Jim Fox, a gardener with forty years of experience, goes on to tell us how and where to buy plants, how to judge the health of plants, how to select the best tools, how to make your plants happy by planting them in the right place, and, finally, what it takes to keep the plants growing happily.

The suggestions that Fox gives seem so obvious that I found myself repeatedly slapping my forehead (metaphorically, anyway) and saying, "Why didn't I think of that?" But, in many cases, I hadn't. I'll give you just one example. 

Fox suggests taking a big manila envelope, writing the year on the front, and then placing all the tags of the plants that you plant that year in the envelope. If you felt the need to make it more complicated you could write the date that you planted it on the tag. But, really, what a simple and simply elegant way to organize a record of your garden. As a gardener who constantly has to wrestle with the chaos of her records, this is one idea that I plan to implement immediately!

This little book is full of such ideas. I think it would be a perfect purchase or a perfect gift for a beginning gardener. It could save him/her many of the stupid mistakes which I have made over the years. 

But it is never too late to learn something new in the gardening game, and, although I have almost as many years' experience as Jim Fox, I learned quite a lot from his book. I'm glad it came my way.

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. The book is on sale now.)

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