Stella Otto: The Backyard Fruit Gardener

Today's Tip: Mow vegetation short around the base of fruit trees and bushes to reduce winter habitat for rodents.

The BackYard Berry Book: Reviews

Author: Stella Otto

Pages: 288
Size: 6 x 9. Trade paperback
Black & white line illustrations
Resource lists
Trouble shooting guide
Monthly almanac
Glossary. Index.
$17.95 USD

ISBN: 978-0-9634520-6-1

Pub Date: April 1, 1995

Published by: OttoGraphics (Distributed by: Chelsea Green Publishing)

Reviews for The Back­yard Berry Book

…I’ve grown rasp­ber­ries for years and more recently straw­ber­ries, black­ber­ries, and blue­ber­ries. Rasp­ber­ries are rel­a­tively sim­ple if you tie them to a large ver­ti­cal sup­port like a fence, and black­ber­ries are also rel­a­tively easy if you keep them pruned. But straw­ber­ries have to be planted and main­tained in a very spe­cific way for best fruit pro­duc­tion, and blue­ber­ries are an even greater chal­lenge, as they require a lot of organic mat­ter in the soil, excel­lent drainage, and a highly acidic soil. This book addresses all of these issues in a clear, com­pre­hen­sive man­ner, explores var­i­ous prun­ing tech­niques, and has already pro­vided me with some use­ful tips. It’s also edu­cat­ing me on grapes, which is my next chal­lenge. The Back­yard Berry Book includes chap­ters on grow­ing straw­ber­ries, rhubarb, rasp­ber­ries, black­ber­ries, lin­gonber­ries, cur­rants, grapes, and kiwi, and soil prepa­ra­tion, prun­ing, main­te­nance, and dis­ease and pest con­trol for each fruit.”

– Todd Heft,   [ link ]


The Back­yard Berry Book is a book I will be re-reading with a high­lighter very soon. I am hop­ing to re-visit my straw­berry sit­u­a­tion with a new advan­tage! This book was packed with infor­ma­tion on select­ing the right plants and even the trial and error of dif­fer­ent vari­eties. I might even try my hand at a dif­fer­ent berry like blue­ber­ries or black­ber­ries — now that I’m armed with some prac­ti­cal information.”

– Lisa Ruper­tus,   [ link ]


Both the gar­den novice and the more expe­ri­enced ‘green-thumb’ will har­vest bushels of hands-on advice from an expe­ri­enced grower and pro­fes­sional hor­ti­cul­tur­al­ist. The Back­yard Berry Book pro­vides what is needed for any gar­dener to suc­cess­fully grow every­thing from rasp­ber­ries to grapes, cur­rants to kiwifruit and more.…

If you want to grow berries or fruit trees in your back­yard, I HIGHLY rec­om­mend get­ting The Back­Yard Orchardist and The Back­Yard Berry BookBEFORE you make any pur­chases or deci­sion. Stella’s advice will help you pick the best spot, set the soil cor­rectly for what type of plant you are putting in, and then help you care for the plant cor­rectly, to get the max­i­mum fruit and long life from it! rasp­ber­ries to grapes, cur­rants to kiwifruit and more.…

The book duo would also make an excel­lent gift idea for the gar­dener, or back yard enthusiast!”

– Nicole Henke, Bless Their Hearts Mom   [ link ]


How to Select Healthy Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes for Your Fruit Gar­den arti­cle by Stella Otto posted 6/7/13.”

– Nicole Henke, Bless­Their­HeartsMom   [ link ]


Select­ing Healthy Fruit Trees & Berry Bushes arti­cle by Stella Otto posted.”

– Gar­dens West Mag­a­zine   [ link ]


How to Select Healthy Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes for Your Fruit Gar­den Guest Post by Stella Otto posted.”

–   [ link ]


World Wis­dom: Healthy Fruit Trees and Bushes for Your Gar­den arti­cle by Stella Otto posted.”

– Moth­er­hood Moment   [ link ]


…This sim­ple but infor­ma­tive book is a the per­fect gardener’s tool that gives one the con­fi­dence and knowl­edge to actu­ally attempt to grow berries in their yard that they can enjoy and eat for years to come.”

– Conny Crisalli,   [ link ]


Trend #1 Grow Your Own
With the ever-increasing empha­sis on healthy eat­ing, organic pro­duce and sus­tain­able liv­ing, gar­den­ers every­where are try­ing their hand at pro­duc­ing their own fruits and veg­eta­bles. Stella Otto, the ‘Back­yard Fruit Gar­dener’, says the trend is really tak­ing off with younger gardeners.

As the gen­er­a­tion of mid 20s to early 30s grows up, they are com­ing full cir­cle and embrac­ing the roots of their post-hippie gen­er­a­tion par­ents. They are return­ing to the home­stead con­cept, but with a decid­edly urban flair of their own. Many are dig­ging into the urban home­steading and farm­ing move­ment with the intent to become food self-sufficient and eco­log­i­cally sustainable.’

Otto is par­tic­u­larly excited about grow­ing unusual berries not com­monly found in the super­mar­ket, such as:
Yel­low rasp­ber­ries
Other less-common fruit suit­able for the back­yard gar­dener are blue­ber­ries, kiwi, grapes and cur­rants. Of course, every gar­dener needs to choose vari­eties suit­able to his or her own cli­mate and lifestyle.”

– Michelle Ull­man,   [ link ]


Berry good reads. Have you col­lected a bunch of tiny hotel soaps? Put them to work keep­ing deer away from your berries. Drill a hole in them and twist tie them to gar­den stakes. Or, spread lit­tle bags of human hair around. Stella Otto calls this ‘tank­age’ in The Back­yard Berry Book. She cau­tions that trail­ing or semi-erect black­berry roots must be kept in the dark before plant­ing, even on cloudy days, to keep yields high. But she sheds light on bram­ble pro­duc­tion that will keep you in cob­bler. You’ll love her easy trel­lis designs.

Otto’s com­pan­ion book The Back­yard Orchardisttaught me some prun­ing tips and how to spread branches with tooth­picks or clothes­pins so a fruit tree can spread out for bet­ter bear­ing. She goes with the thought that life with­out cher­ries is the pits, and shares how to grow them along with apples, pears, etc. She makes it sound so easy, but I cau­tion that patience is required as one awaits suc­cu­lent bounty on the branches.”

– Dar­ragh Doiron, Port Arthur News   [ link ]


Stella Otto is quoted exten­sively in ‘Grow­ing Edi­ble Vines’ article.”

– Jes­sica Wal­liser, Hobby Farm Homes   [ link ]


Like grapes, kiwis are vig­or­ous grow­ers and need to be prop­erly pruned, trained and trel­lised. Good infor­ma­tional sources for their care and main­te­nance include Stella Otto’s The Back­yard Berry Book: A Hands-on Guide to Grow­ing Berries, Bram­bles, and Vine Fruit in the Home Gar­den.”

– Jes­sica Wal­liser, Hobby Farm Homes   [ link ]


‘Beauty & the Feast: Dis­cover 8 eye-catching vines for your gar­den and back­yard that are as deli­ciously fruit­ful as they are beau­ti­ful’ by Jes­sica Wal­liser appears in the March/April 2012 issue of Hobby Farm Home. Stella Otto is quoted sev­eral times, along with men­tion of her books–Back­yard Orchardist and Back­yard Berry Book.”

– Hobby Farm Home


Stella Otto was inter­viewed 5/12/11 by Martha Stew­art Liv­ing gar­den edi­tors Tony Bielaczy­con theHome­grown radio show. Home­grown is live every Tues­day at 9 a.m. ET and Thurs­day at 1 p.m. ET on on Sir­ius 112. ”

–, Home­grown   [ link ]


In the late 20th cen­tury, unfor­tu­nately, berries are seen pri­mar­ily in the super­mar­ket at cer­tain times of year, and while this is wel­come, it used to be that every­one had a few berry bushes in the back­yard: some cur­rants, some goose­ber­ries and a few rhubarb plants. In The Back­yard Berry Book: A Hands-On Guide to Grow­ing Berries, Bram­bles, and Vine Fruit in the Home Gar­den, Stella Otto explains how to bring this tra­di­tion back and raise lush crops of berries and fruit with point­ers on soil nutri­tion, plant nutri­ents and mulching that will make your home-grown berries the envy of folks who only see them in the super­mar­ket. This mouth-watering book will get you going.”

– Pool House Designs   [ link ]


There are so many prob­lems that I con­tend with in my gar­den that I can get the answers from a book or magazine.…There are many great books out there that might be worth check­ing out for your own library or at the library.…including The Back­yard Berry Book by Stella Otto.”

– Stephanie Bethke-DeJaegher, The Inde­pen­dent, South­west­ern MN’s Daily News­pa­per   [ link ]


If you’re dream­ing of har­vest­ing mouth-watering small fruits in you own backyard,…read this book!
If you’re already try­ing small fruit pro­duc­tion and har­vest­ing a peck of problems,…read this book.
Stella Otto tells you how to grow the famil­iar and the more exotic, for big results in a small space.”

– Jan Riggen­bach, syn­di­cated colum­nist, Mid­west Gar­den­ing and Mid­west Liv­ing magazine


Stella Otto has done it again! When we reviewed her first book, The Back­yard Orchardist, we wrote ‘What we like most about this book is that it isn’t intim­i­dat­ing. Stella Otto doesn’t act like some expert-from-on high; she gen­tly and con­vinc­ingly enables us to real­ize that, yes, we can grow fruit suc­cess­fully.” Ditto for The Back­yard Berry Book…you should by all means read this book.”

– Hor­tIdeas


…packed with reli­able meth­ods and details of berry grow­ing one sel­dom encoun­ters in books twice this one’s size. Otto pro­vides such a thor­ough guide to the all-important first step of prepar­ing a site for berries, that it actu­ally can serve as pri­or­ity read­ing in start­ing any kind of gardening.”

– Gene Logs­don, author of The Con­trary Farmer


If you’re even con­sid­er­ing grow­ing fruit, you’ll find Otto’s two books price­less resources. They con­tain every­thing you need to get started.…except the plants.”

– Lynn Byczyn­ski, edi­tor, Grow­ing for Market


Likely to be much-thumbed as a ref­er­ence by the green-thumbed crowd.”

– Small Press


One of the best books on grow­ing berries I’ve seen in a long time.”

– Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger


Writ­ten in plain hands-on lan­guage, clear and pur­pose­ful draw­ings, the defin­i­tive how-to guide to small fruit gardening.”

– Back­Home


…enjoy­able to read, easy to refer to.”

– Fruit Gardener


Gar­den Book Club Alter­nate Selec­tion
Rodale Organic Gar­den­ing Book Club Alter­nate Selec­tion
Fea­ture excerpt in Coun­try Jour­nal mag­a­zine
Reviews in news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines and trade pub­li­ca­tions includ­ing Amer­i­can Home­style & Gar­den, Bet­ter Homes and Gar­dens Deck and Land­scape Plan­ner, Book­list, and Blooms­bury Review