Sugar Snaps and Strawberries, a review

Sugarsnaps and Strawberries by Andrea Bellamy

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries is the cutest title I’ve seen for a gardening book in a long time. It bucks a marketing idea which floats regularly around the web:  you must always mention your brand everywhere, in your book title, in every conversation, etc. Although a good concept, such repetition can also be boring. I’m glad Adrea Bellamy bucked the trend.

You go girl.

Andrea covers the basics in her first effort, and it is a good read for those just getting into gardening. I think I’ll pass my copy on to my NGBF Aimee because she says she’s going to garden this spring. She’s all fired up about it in fact. She’ll need a good book to help her.

I also dig the rock n roll vibe Andrea creates with her talk of guerilla gardening, but what else would you expect of someone who named her blog, Heavy PetalSugar Snaps and Strawberries is heavy with garden eye candy taken by Vancouver photographer, Jackie Connelly. Her pictures show how gorgeous and cool gardening can be and should be idea starters for anyone who is planning their spring garden. The trend toward breaking up the page with a collage of photos reminds me very much of blogging itself. Bloggers are known for showing their passion with words and pictures. Andrea’s first loves are vegetables and fruit, and it makes sense for her first book to focus on these. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and that’s what we need to get people on the gardening path, don’t you think?

Sour cherries from my tree

Her story of youthful energy and gardening while having a baby intrigued me when I first read her blog. I stayed around for the good writing and clever ideas. When I had three toddlers running around, I still gardened, so I admire her ability to combine motherhood and work.  The book has several pictures of her daughter Lila, to whom she’s dedicated the book, along with “future gardeners everywhere.” This is important. As I’ve said before, it’s crucial we get our kids involved in gardening. My children are now teens and tweens, and those days I spent with them in the dirt when they were small are precious to me. When they tell someone how to grow something, or that compost is good for the soil, well . . . it’s a great moment.

I like the idea that gardening (especially food production it seems) is a trend among twenty and thirty somethings. It is no longer just a hobby only for those over 55; although we should all learn from our mentors (I’ll be one soon enough) and then pass this knowledge on to our children and grandchildren.

Andrea begins logically with assessing your site and asserting you can grow edibles anywhere. You definitely can, and her ideas for turning a quiet corner of the yard, front or back, into a vegetable patch are great. I also like the attractive charts throughout, like the one on Common Site Problems.

She is an organic gardener, and she spends all of Chapter 6 discussing soil and showing some at home tests you can perform. I was a bit surprised that a soil test performed by the county extension office wasn’t covered, but maybe she doesn’t do that. Maybe British Columbia doesn’t have county extension offices. I don’t know.

I especially liked the section on insects which emphasized predators like ladybug lions and showed a photo (hurray!) because these larvae are so different from adults and are often squished by unsuspecting gardeners.

In short, Sugar Snaps and Strawberries has plenty of essential information presented in a most attractive manner. Although Andrea lives in Vancouver, and I’m a resident much, much further south, her information is basic enough to apply to most conditions across the U.S.

Her ideas about how you can grow plants almost anywhere, and her excitement about her subject rings true. It’s a great book for beginners and for those of us who need winter eye candy.

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20 comments on “Sugar Snaps and Strawberries, a review

  1. Pingback: Sugar Snaps and Strawberries – a Book Give-Away! | Behnkes Gardening Blog

  2. Donna

    Thanks for the review, I too have been following Andrea on her blog and really do believe she will have great success as a garden book writer, judging by her writing style on the blog.

    I thought your cherries looked yummy in that bowl. My husband loves the sour varieties.

  3. Darla

    Sounds like a delightful read!

    1. Dee Nash

      It was Darla. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  4. [email protected] Hoe and Shovel

    Hi Dee,
    The title is indeed charming. You’ve done a great review and the book sounds delightful. From the start I’ve been mixing vegetables with ornamentals and integrating them in unsuspecting places. It just seems more natural that way. The more folks know about these methods the more we utilize our gardens to the fullest.
    Always enjoy a good pictorial of bugs and larva, too!

    1. Dee Nash

      “Always enjoy a good pictorial of bugs and larva too.” Meems, you crack me up. I guess I must also.

  5. Nan

    Thanks for this review. I may get it for my daughter who plans to have her very first garden this year!

    1. Dee Nash

      Nan, I think this book would be a very good choice. It’s good information in an attractive package.

  6. Linda Vater

    Just put it on reserve at the library (they have copies on order). Thanks for the heads up, friend.

    1. Dee Nash

      Linda, she gardens very much like you. I think you’ll like some the design features.

  7. gail

    Now here’s a book I wished I’d had 20 years ago. Had it been available, I am sure I would also be growing vegetables along with the native plants I love. This book will a perfect after Christmas treat for my niece and her three children~gail

    1. Dee Nash

      Me too Gail. She really puts it into perspective doesn’t she?

  8. Andrea Bellamy

    Thanks for the great review, Dee! I had such fun writing this book, and I’m glad it shows! And I’m so happy you’re passing your copy along to a new gardener.

    Cheers,
    Andrea
    PS: BC does not have county extension offices (nor counties, for that matter!) but they sound fantastic! Labs here charge an arm and a leg for soil tests.

    1. Dee Nash

      Hey Andrea, see I knew there was a good reason. I figured it was something like that.~~Dee

  9. Ivette Soler

    Dee – what a great review of a great book! It is so beautiful, and I ADORE Andrea’s writing style. I love that you point out how it covers the basics, making it a great gift or investment for the young gardener, who often has to contend with gardening in small spaces.
    Yay Andrea! Yay Dee! A book lovefest!
    XOIvette

    1. Dee Nash

      Thanks Ivette. I love Andrea too. What a good writer she is.

  10. rebecca sweet

    Thanks for such an in-depth review, Dee. I’m SO looking forward to reading Andrea’s book – if her writing is anything like her blog, I know it’ll be a smashing success!

    1. Dee Nash

      I agree Rebecca. She’s a very good writer, and her pics of her daughter are so sweet.

  11. commonweeder

    I just got my copy and I haven’t gotten any further than enjoying the eye candy. Sweet and seductive.

    1. Dee Nash

      Pat, that’s a very good way to put it. Sweet!