Title: What’s Wrong with My Fruit Garden?
Authors: David Deardorff and Kathyrn Wadsworth
Strong points: Much of the book is presented in chart form. Near the beginning of the book, you will find a chart organized by problem type. This provides quick initial suggestions to help identify the possible source of your fruit garden problem.
Weaknesses: The many photos that are part of the charts are rather small; limiting their use as clear, accurate illustrations of the problem. Some photos are atypical, in my experience, of what some of these problems generally look like.
The plant problem solving guide is somewhat redundant and a bit counterintuitive in its presentation. Rather than starting with apple and apricot, as does the plant profile section that precedes it, the problem guide starts with avocado. Apples occur later; lumped with pome fruit. Apricots and almonds are lumped in stone fruit. This grouping would be accurate but perhaps not something that a novice looking for a quick solution would be familiar with or expect. Less universally grown fruit such as banana, guava, mulberry, olive, and others receive almost more page space than the most common, more universally grown home garden fruit.
Many of the pests mentioned repeatedly (aphids, mealy bugs, and ants being prominent) are not usually primary and significant pests in well-maintained home fruit gardens. Readers would be better served if significant, recurring pests were emphasized.
Green thumbs rating:
If you are looking for a quick overview guide on what may be wrong with a plant in your fruit garden, this book would be an easy place to start. If you are a novice in need of fairly extensive guidance much of the material is quite brief and lacks explanations that will help you gain a true understanding of fruit growing. For experienced fruit gardeners looking for a deeper understanding of how to identify and correct problems in you fruit garden, there are other books that could serve you better.
The authors’ gardening experience is portrayed to be mainly in the southwest and west coast of the United States. This shows up in the book by inclusion of some warm climate fruit that are not typically covered in many home fruit growing books. For gardeners in these regions the information is likely to be welcome and helpful.
The authors’ approach to growing fruit 100% organically is laudable. Unfortunately they gloss over the reality that doing so takes considerable commitment, knowledge, and understanding of interactions in the natural systems. As is the case with many “organic only” books, this book glosses over some of the downside of adopting this philosophy hook, line, and sinker. Trapping, for example, is useful for awareness of pests’ presence, but is rarely effective for true small-scale control. Pepper spray may not be required to have a safety label, but is highly caustic to the user if not handled very judiciously. Several “organic” permitted materials, sulfur and copper as cases in point, can be quite phytotoxic to plant tissue when used during hot weather. They also build up in the environment and are detrimental to numerous beneficial organisms in the soil. This very important information is not mentioned until the very last pages of the book.
When I first picked up this book I had great hope that, being authored by a PhD botanist with plant pathology experience, it would offer lots of detail to really add to home gardeners’ knowledge base. Unfortunately, it fell short of my expectation. Overall, this book provides insufficient detail for those seeking to become truly effective and knowledgeable organic fruit growers. It may help the novice start getting their hands dirty.
ISBN: 978–1-60469–358-4 (trade paperback)
# of pages: 311 pgs.
Appendix: Short section of resources and recommended reading
Publisher: Tiber Press
Publication Date: 2013
Price: $24.95 (paperback)