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Book Review: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Food

April 21, 2009

Growing Food GuideI thoroughly enjoyed Jean Ann Van Krevelen‘s new book Growing Food: A Guide for Beginners.  You don’t have to be a horticulture specialist to figure about what this book is about, the title says it all.  After the super detailed content section, which makes for easy reference later on, she starts off the book with a thought provoking question, “Can you survive without a grocery store?”  Oh man, at this point I would be up $@%# creek!  Since the book targets beginners, Jean Ann does an excellent job explaining the basics of starting and caring for an organic garden, pest and diseases, and Top Eleven vegetables to know and grow.  You can buy the paperback book (139 pages) for $17.95 at or the kindle version for $9.99 on

Jean Ann is all about organic gardening and supporting your local community, but she gratefully acknowledges our crazy job expectations, the information overload epidemic and child rearing expectations as possible reasons for why many of us are not wanting to spend hours in the garden.  However, the current state of the economy and latest scares of food contamination have motivated many families to reconsider the idea of growing their own food.  Jean Ann has come to our rescue by creating a one-stop, interactive resource guide to growing your own food to save money, provide for ourselves and improve our nutrition.

What’s different about this garden book?

For a beginner, focusing on the basics is so important to avoid leaving the reader feeling overwhelmed and easily defeated.  I appreciated Jean Ann’s layered approach to information: Here’s what you need to know, but not everything there is to know, about starting an organic garden and here’s some extra resources to help you “dig” a little deeper.  Her book is brought to life with links to various multimedia resources, including podcasts and videos.  I’m a total skimmer, visual learner and would rather gather information on the internet in 600 words or less, so this book is perfect for someone like me.

Jean Ann doesn’t expect her readers to immerse themselves deep into the world of organic produce overnight.  She suggests to maybe start out with a nightly salad mix.  In my opinion, growing your own food is the easy part; it’s the preparation, consumption and storage that’s hard to manage.  In her Top Eleven list, Jean Ann provides tremendously helpful information about planting instructions, common pests and diseases, different preparation methods, special information and even special recipes for every vegetable.  Mmm, I can’t wait to get started!

I truely love feeling connected to my food and the earth in this very nurturing process — Jean Ann Van Krevelen

More about the author

Jean Ann started gardening about 10 years ago after the death of her grandmother.  After the standard acknowledgment and copyright pages, you happen upon her dedication page, which made me a little teary-eyed one day it was so touching.  You realize the connection she made through gardening with the two most important women in her life, her grandmother and mother.  Jean Ann understands the meaning of the word community.  You can find her all over the internet chatting with her tweeps on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks.  Her book contributors include the gardening world’s best of the best, as well as everyday gardeners who are members of her groups.  Noted garden contributors include Margaret Roach, Amanda Thomsen, Mary Ann Newcomer, Susan Harris and Debra K. Prinzing.

Did you find this review helpful?  Drop a line and let us know.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2009 7:49 am

    Wow, thanks for such kind words! I really appreciate the thoughtfulness you put into your reading. The passage about my grandmother and mom was very meaningful to me as well. I only hope I can inspire my kids in the same way.

    Thank you so much for reading this book with an open heart!

  2. May 5, 2009 9:09 pm

    Nice blog about book reviews.

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