Friday, August 3, 2018

Book Review - Grow What you Love by Emily Murphy

I was going to do a Gardening / Herb Book of the month, however I cannot read a book in a month.  Between the teaching ,and the gardening, and the harvesting, and the making of herb products, and the writing of blogs and newsletters, not only for myself but for several organizations, I just cannot read a book in a month, so I am going with a book a quarter and if I finish early then I will add in a few extra.

I am starting this with a book I received in a contest giveaway in the Spring.  It is Grow What You Love: 12 Plant Families to Change your Life by Emily Murphy.  I have always liked chatting with her on twitter @passthepistil, through #gardenchat so when her book came out I was thrilled to get involved in promoting it.  She spoke at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, as well has doing a Q&A on #gardenchat.  She also has a blog and if you follow her on twitter she links back to great articles regularly, or you can just check it out - Now that things have calmed down, I pulled the book out and began to reread what I started in the Spring before prepping for the Garden Walk became a “Thing” in my life. 

I have been carrying this book around with me this year.  Popping it open to read when I am bored or waiting for something.  I even had some fun entering a Chicago Flower and Garden Show swag giveaway with a picture of me reading it in my newly created book nook in the garden.  I enjoyed this book because of its easy-to-read style, but also the useful information.  There is nothing I dislike more than “nothing new here” or useless details about herbs.  This book, I am happy to say, suffers from neither of those issues.

Grow What You Love is organized by topic rather than plant.  I like that, as when it is plant organized I never seem to read the book, I just read the plants I want to learn about and skip over the other plants even if there is information there I might find useful. Those types do make good reference items however and I do refer back to them. 

Here is why I think you will love this book also:

She starts with the basics of how to get started in gardening.  If you have never gardened before you will find her easy to understand information very helpful and if you are a seasoned gardener her information on soil and composting is a must read.  She is great at walking you through the steps of something, like Hot Composting.  The “Emily’s Notes” found throughout the text are wonderful for directing you to better use the resources in the book and know your plants better. Like the suggestion to add Strawberries to your landscape planting because the foliage is lovely in the fall.  Who thinks of Strawberries in Fall?

One of the many "workshops" in the book.
The subtitle of the book is 12 plant families to change your life.  The plant directory gives you family groups like tender herbs and winter greens that force you to explore these topics and in the process find plants you might not have attempted to grow before (Varieties to try).  She even suggests individual cultivars to try. That is what makes this book accomplish its title.  Grow What You Love.  She explores the why a plant is good to grow along with the how of growing the plant.  You can delve deeper into plants you know while contemplating experimenting with those you don’t. 

Varieties to try and a related recipe!
Her advice to know the rules of gardening so you can break them is the best. And the Workshops in the book that will have you transplanting and rooting plants like a pro, among other tasks, are so nicely laid out in steps anyone can follow them and be successful. 

No book on gardening that contains herbs would be complete without a few recipes and this book does not disappoint.  Not only is there how to make candied violets and your own seed starting mix, you will learn to make a Savory Galette in easy to follow steps.  I had hoped to show you my version of this recipe, but I forgot to take pictures because we consumed it so quickly as it smelled awesome.

So sweet she even signed it for me!
The summer vegetable recipes, especially those using squash are on my agenda for the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that.

I hope you take my advice and check out a copy of Grow What You Love by Emily Murphy (Firefly Books Ltd, 2018)

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