Friday, December 25, 2009

Book Review: "The Fruit Expert"

I like reading books about gardening methods. The different books all have their pros and cons. Looking at the local bookstores, the garden sections seems to be getting smaller, so it's useful to have a bibliography of useful books. Amazon isn't the same as browsing through a book, it's difficult to tell what you might get.

So here's a review of one that I use from time to time. "The Fruit Expert" by Dr. D.G. Hessayon

Availability: This book is currently available at I don't know current availability at bookstores.

Copyright: 2004

This book is written for the British gardener / home orchardist, although I found many sections useful for my own, Pacific NW garden. It is organized by the fruit type, and includes a forward on planting and an afterward on fruits that can be purchased from the store.

The planting method appears to match with other resources, although the author recommends a planting mix of soil+peat+bone meal. I think that current literature recommends not amending the soil, or not amending it much, because over-rich and over-loose planting mixture can lead to a 'flowerpot-effect', keeping the roots inside the hole and leading to a swampy soggy pocket in the hole. I have never seen that happen either, but now I only add minimal amendment to my planting mix.

Fruit varieties: The author discusses most of the major fruit types, including apple, apricot, cherries, pears, figs, plums, peaches, berries, and soft fruits or berries. The varieties won't generally be appropriate to the American gardener. The pruning section is "OK" but does not discuss summer pruning or backyard orchard culture, which I think is essential for the backyard gardener. The fig section was discouraging, probably due to limited usefullness in the UK. There is nothing on Asian Plums or Asian Pears. I don't know if these grow in the UK. The disease section contains many useful photos. This is not a book for the organically minded.

Overall grade: "C". Interesting for a book that is labeled "The world's best selling book on fruit". The photos are nice to look at. The planting method does not appear up to date. The pruning methods are not up to date or the best for the backyard gardener. The varieties are not useful to the American gardener.

I didn't realize until now, how poor this book is. I actually get it out and read it now and then, but there are better resources for either the novice or the expert.

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