Tag Archives: The Art of Gardening

The Art of Gardening (Book Review)

Susan Vinskofski, author and gardening genius behind the blog Learning and Yearning, generously gave me a free copy of her ebook, The Art of Gardening, in exchange for my honest review. I liked the book so much that I decided to become an affiliate for it as well. Please be assured that I only endorse products I know and love on this blog-and this book definitely fit the bill!

I first met Susan through a mutual friend who thought that we would get along since we both grew and preserved so much of our own food. Our friend was right- my husband and Susan both had an affinity for lasagna gardening, she and I both had a blogging history, and we all had a passion for eating fresh, nutritious, well-sourced food. It turns out that Susan is also a master gardener (something my hubby has wanted to do for a long time) and the author of this fabulous book: The Art of Gardening.

The Art of Gardening Building Your Soil


What will you find inside Susan’s ebook? Easy-to-follow advice for building rich, healthy soil, a clear, helpful guide to understanding seeds (and some of the most common garden crops), and creative ways to enjoy the harvest in your real-food kitchen. The information is accompanied by Deb Hamby’s gorgeous oil paintings, which is enough in and of itself to make you want to grow all kinds of appealing plants.

Susan covers the basic aspects of building soil- composting, lasagna gardening, soil components, and mulching. She discusses controversial practices like the use of peat moss and rototilling with precision and grace. And consistently, she encourages the use of whatever sustainable, inexpensive local resources you can get your hands on.

For example, when sourcing wood chips to mulch your garden, Susan discourages the use of bark- or recycled wood-based (and expensive) commercial chips. Instead she recommends wood chips that are full of the good stuff- branches, leaves, needles- i.e., food for your soil. Does she send you to a specialty site to order pricey 5 lb bags of the stuff? No. She gives you a local, friendly solution that won’t cost you a dime : “Call a local tree service and ask if they would be willing to deliver a load of these chips to your garden. They often have to pay a fee to dispose of the chips and are more than willing to drop them off if they are in your area. Be kind, and offer them some of your garden produce; you never know, you may make a new friend.”

Susan covers all things seeds- seed types, sources, and why plant diversity is so important. She reviews GMO and organic seed issues, but doesn’t muddy the waters too much with the muck of the controversy. Instead, she gets right down to business by walking the reader through the how-to of seed starting, planting, and saving. And of course, Susan discusses how to care for your garden. (Ah, the fun part!)

But the section that plays most to my belly and taste buds is the A-Z veggie guide at the end of the book… with accompanying creative recipes! Whether I was drooling over the idea of grass-fed burgers topped with sweet onion butter, or dreaming of parsnip cake with orange-infused whipped cream, Susan’s book made me inspired to make use of my garden produce in new and delicious ways. I can hardly wait for our harvest so I can cook some of these!

The Art of Gardening is a great starter’s guide for beginners, and is full of sound advice for experienced gardeners. My hubby and I are somewhere in the middle, as we’ve been gardening together for about six years now, and starting our own seeds for the past three years. However, we’ve always said that you make mistakes and learn something new every year. Well, I learned a lot of new things from this book! Every chapter in The Art of Gardening offered some knowledge previously unbeknownst to me. I bet that implementing some of Susan’s tricks will save us a lot of trouble in the years to come.

Susan empowers ALL prospective gardeners to be successful- not just those with a gorgeous plot and fancy amendments. She says in her first chapter that she wants “to teach you to build a garden in such a way that the original soil you have to work with will not be what determines your end result.” And that is exactly what she does.

Want to get your own copy? Susan is currently offering 25% off the price of The Art of Gardening through May 31st, 2015, with the code SPRING entered at checkout. You won’t regret this wholesome , inspiring read! Click here for more details.

Learn to Create A Healthy Garden

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Good Pickins’ #26

Sunshine, sweet sunshine. 60 degree weather, fresh greens, first fishing trips down at our stream, and lots of MUD. The first few really warm days we had, V would run outside with her arms high in the air, squealing and laughing. That’s exactly how I feel when I get to this time of year too.  April 2015 002This week, my friend Rachel shared what’s on her nightstand, and she inspired me to give you a “nightstand edition” of Good Pickins’. Here are the books I’ve got my nose in recently:

The Odyssey– I recently finished rereading Homer’s Odyssey as part of the classical education program for adults outlined in Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Educated Mind. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this “Great Book” as a thirty-year old, compared to when I was a disinterested teenager. What’s better? My husband and his 7th & 8th graders were reading it at the same time, so we got to have nightly discussions on it!

The Resilient Farm and Homestead– My husband bought this book after hearing Ben Falk speak at an organic farming conference a couple of years ago. Pretty soon after, he was digging up the yard to put in swales and small ponds supplied by spring water, as well as burying rotting logs underground. Turns out he was inspired by Falk’s innovative permaculture- based agriculture at his research farm in Vermont, Whole Systems Design.


I’m finally getting around to reading the book myself. Falk shares principles for developing a sustainable, versatile, and resilient homestead on your own property. The book has the makings of a richly informing college textbook, with just the right amount of conversational tone to keep it interesting. I’m enjoying absorbing all the ingenious suggestions and gorgeous photographs throughout the book.

The Art of Gardening– Susan of Learning and Yearning graciously gave me a copy of her e-book for review. I am about a third of the way into it, and I have to say that it is a clear, well-written guide to soil-building, seed selection, gardening- and of course, eating the harvest too! This book, beautifully illustrated by Deb Hamby, is 25% off through May 31 with the code SPRING entered at checkout. Keep an eye out for a full review in a couple of weeks. 🙂

How Children Fail – by John Holt. I’ve been paging on-and-off through this educator and author’s book on what really can make or break a students’ grade. His views on how trust and mistrust, fear, and expectations can greatly color a student’s school experience are eye-opening- and convicting. Well worth the read for any educator- home or otherwise.

With that, I’m off to enjoy some fresh air and clucking chickens. Enjoy your Saturday!

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