dig it!

This is the first April weekend in Kansas that we don't have snow or ice in the forecast, so my mind is wandering to the garden, which in my case is a collection of pots, some with last year's garden disasters still there. But this year I have more hope, because I have Alex Mitchell's Beginner's Garden. 

Mitchell has been gardening and writing about gardening for 20 years. And although this was her first book, she recently went back to it to refresh it and update it for today's beginning gardener. She has lots of great tips for working in small spaces and makes it super easy to get started on a tasteful, tasty patio or balcony garden. 

Beginner's Garden is packed with great ideas to get started quickly (or slowly) with ideas on specific plants to try, from veggies to herbs to flowers. Arugula and lettuces, new potatoes, beets, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, even pumpkins and squashes can be grown by a beginner in a pot or a small raised bed. 

Mitchell walks readers through the seasons, talking about what to do when. She includes very specific strategies for dealing with the bugs and diseases that can affect each plant and even about some of the other garden villains she encounters, such as slugs or cats. 

There are shopping lists so that you don't even up with a bunch of stuff you won't need (and don't need to waste your money on) as well as ideas for design and recipes, so that you can share your garden with all your friends. She gives lots of ideas for personalizing the garden and adding special touches like string lights (although I've always preferred the British term "fairy lights"), and then serving your friends and family a bruschetta topped with tomatoes straight from your garden or mojitos made with fresh mint. 

All of Mitchell's years of experience come through in her down-to-earth advice, and her breezy writing style makes everything sound so simple and accessible. And she offers lots of options, so readers can feel like they can make their own garden path to best fir their space and their lifestyle. Although I tend to kill my garden every year either by over-or under-watering (I do get help with that from Mother Nature, so it's not all my fault, just mostly), I am inspired to try again. And I love her idea of setting up an automatic watering system, because that could give me a fighting chance against high summer in Kansas, which seems to scorch everything I plant (that I haven't already flooded). 

So if you're like me, starting over every year, or if you're trying a garden for the first time, or if you just need workable ideas for you small patio space, then Beginner's Garden is an excellent resource. Highly recommended for anyone struggling to set up a small garden and keep it healthy through all the growing seasons. 


Galleys for Beginner's Garden were provided by Fox Chapel Publishing through NetGalley, with many thanks.