Review: Backyard Berry Book | Backyard Orchardist by Stella Otto

If you want to add fruit to your edible landscape, the Backyard Berry Book and the Backyard Orchardist are excellent primers.

backyard berry book

Stella Otto certainly knows fruit. A professional horticulturist and former orchard and farm market owner for 25 years, she’s grown just about every fruit that’s possible to grow in Michigan. In the Backyard Berry Book and the Backyard Orchardist she shares her expertise in simple, clear terms that the novice gardener will understand, and the intermediate gardener will appreciate. Each book is full of illustrations, charts and specific instructions for growing the most common fruits in North America.

The Backyard Berry Book

I have quite the edible landscape: raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and cherries. Raspberries are relatively simple if you tie them to a large vertical support like a fence, and blackberries are also relatively easy if you keep them pruned. But strawberries have to be planted and maintained in a very specific way for best fruit production, and blueberries are an even greater challenge, as they require a lot of organic matter in the soil, excellent drainage, and a highly acidic soil. This book addresses all of these issues in a clear, comprehensive manner, explores various pruning techniques, and has already provided me with some useful tips. It’s also educating me on grapes, which is my next challenge.

The Backyard Berry Book includes chapters on growing strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, lingonberries, currants, grapes, and kiwi, and soil preparation, pruning, maintenance, and disease and pest control for each fruit.

Buy on Amazon: The Backyard Berry Book: A Hands-On Guide to Growing Berries, Brambles, and Vine Fruit in the Home Garden


backyard orchardist book the Backyard Orchardist

Many people get excited in the spring when they see an apple tree at their local nursery. “Oh honey, wouldn’t it be great to have fresh apples?” Sure it would. But novices are under the impression that fruit trees are as easy to grow as willows.

Most fruit trees come embedded with high maintenance and potential pest problems – if you haven’t educated yourself about best practices for growing that specific fruit, you may end up disappointed, with a lawn full of rotten fruit. But when you learn the basics of tree care for the specific fruit you wish to grow, your harvests will be amazing.

Backyard Orchardist gets into the nitty-gritty on growing apples, pears, sweet and sour cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, and other tree fruits. It also includes sections on growing fruit trees in containers, disease and pest identification and prevention, pruning, how to deter wildlife from eating your fruit, and harvesting and storing. It does not include citrus fruits like lemons, oranges or grapefruits (they can’t be grown in Michigan where the author lives).

A great set of books from a person who’s spent her life doing exactly what she’s written about.

Buy on Amazon: The Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden


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About Todd Heft

Todd Heft is an organic gardener and freelance garden writer who lives in the Lehigh Valley, PA and has gardened for most of his life. When he isn't writing or reading about organic gardening, he's gardening. His first book, "Homegrown Tomatoes: The Step-By-Step Guide to Growing Delicious Organic Tomatoes In Your Garden" is available on Amazon now. Google

One Response to Review: Backyard Berry Book | Backyard Orchardist by Stella Otto

  1. Devon Sutton says:

    Even a small garden can yield heavy crops of fruit. The choice of what to grow is governed by the family’s tastes and by the amount of space you have. When making your plans, bear in mind the area a tree will occupy at maturity. To save space, consider planting multi-grafted trees, which usually have two to four varieties on the same plant. These are compatible for pollinating. Varieties grafted onto dwarfing or semi-dwarfing rootstock also save space – many grow well in large pots. Trained as espaliers, fans or cordons, fruit trees can make effective screens against walls and fences. In the early years, grow salad crops or strawberries between trees to make good use of the ground. As the trees mature, they will cast too much shade for you to grow crops under them. You should also decide on a balance between soft fruits and tree fruits. The soft berry fruits are produced on bushes, canes or low-growing plants. They bear crops sooner after planting than fruit trees and often give a better return for the area they occupy. Fruit trees will eventually produce heavy yields in good seasons, and the surplus can always be preserved.