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on April 16, 2008
Barbara Damrosch is a self-confirmed 'old-fashioned dirt gardener.' And, she's does organic gardening to boot. This book is a comprehensive, easily understood guide to all aspects of gardening; it even includes a chapter on houseplants.

I like that Damrosch prefers hand tools over power tools. And, that she uses her hands to pull weeds at times.

The chapter on "what plants need," was terrific--covers the basics and gave me a firm understanding of what plants require to thrive.

The book contains all you need to grow annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, trees, shrubs and vines.


from the author of the award winning book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet.
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This book is an outstanding resource.The book lists every kind of planting a home gardener would ever encounter. I was mainly interested in the food producing plants. However, Damrosch also has advice on; annuals, perennials, bulbs, roses, lawns, ground covers, trees, wildflowers, and even houseplants.
The material is presented in a simple get to the point format, without any needless fluff. Sure, all the information can be found on Google, but this book provides a quick time saving gardeners reference.

A lot of garden books seem to be in more of a coffee table style, with lots of colourful pictures. This book was made with the idea of utility.
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on June 8, 2003
Based on the very positive reviews, I purchased this book, and started reading. I thought it a little odd that she mentioned mailorder companies 'beginning to use plastic', and I was taken aback in the section about mulches that the now ubiquitous bags of cedar mulch were not even mentioned. That's when I checked the copyright date. While much of the information is timeless, and the writing style is certainly entertaining, there are some dated items.
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on June 24, 2004
This book is a great reference, but I found it so interesting, I read it cover to cover. Loved it! It is organized in sections, like: trees, fruits, vegetables, etc. Then the tree section for instance is broken down into types: dogwood, magnolia, etc. Every type has an illustration and describes the requirements of the plants (food, light, soil, zone tolerance, pests, etc.) I am a novice gardener, but I feel that after reading this book I have a very good grasp on how to take care of plants in my new house.
The authors writing is never boring, always pleasant and a few times even cracked me up. She never tells you "you should do this" but gives you a tremendous amount of well-rounded information to make good judgements yourself. I know I'm gushing, but if you are are new to gardening, I honestly cannot imagine a book that could help you more. I feel that the book is complete and I don't feel the need to buy any other books right now to compensate. By the way, there are never any advertisements for specific products like fertilizers in the book. I would tell you if there was anything irritating like that.
I keep the book in my gardening shed so that if I can't remember something, it's close by to refer to. I am actually writing this review because I was looking to purchase this for someone from Amazon as a gift. I had thought of loaning it to them but I just can't be without it for a month.
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on September 11, 2003
Barbara Damrosch has written the tour de force in practical gardening handbooks for the novice and green-thumbed alike.
What is truly impressive in the book is how Damrosch manages to cover so much gardening acreage in one mid-sized book. There are chapters on landscape planning, plant care, gear, buying tips, annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, fruits, bulbs, roses, lawns and ground covers, vines, shrubs, trees, wildflowers, and even house plants. Whew...that was a list. Though it would seem with such an exhaustive table of contents that maybe the gardening reader would get to know far too little about a lot, such is not the case. Once you are done reading trees per say, you feel like you got a fairly thorough branching of the woody subject.
Though, if you are solely interested in vegetable gardening let's say, there are more detailed and exhaustive books out there, but chances are someday you will tire of rhubarbs and radishes and get the thorny point to plant a rose or two, you will find on that piercing day that you pine to have bought Damrosch's green bible.
I reach for this book time and time again with dirt-caked hands. Before you sow and grow, be well-read and what a better place to start than Damrosch's "Garden Primer."
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on May 4, 2001
Barbara Damrosch and her husband, Eliot Coleman, are the type of teachers that I find the most helpful. They stand in your shoes and ask what would I want to know on this subject, then proceed to tell you precisely and in plain language, not only what you want to know but what you didn't even know to ask.
I've taped all their television shows on gardening and have a number of the books both of them have written, but when I walk out in the garden and see a problem, whether it be disease or bug, it is this book that is my guide. I also grab it whenever I'm planting, fertilizing or harvesting most anything.
I just put in grapes, blueberries, blackberries, honeysuckle, clematis and the only book I referred to was this one. Never intimidating, always helpful, if I could only have one gardening book, this would be it.
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on February 6, 2001
After borrowing this book from the library oh, maybe 20 times my first gardening summer, I broke down and bought a copy. It remains the best such investment I ever made. Damrosch succeeds in giving the real fundamentals other books are afraid of; she tells you not only the importantce of the N-P-K ratio, but how nitrogen and phosphorus and potassium actually influence plant tissue, and what their natural sources are. You could treat this book like a correspondence course (I took notes, made lists, quizzed myself!) but you wouldn't have to: it is written clearly and directly for even the casual reader to understand. All other gardening books I've read since have been embellishments to the basics presented here.
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on June 10, 1998
My copy of Barbara Damrosch's "Garden Primer" is splattered with mud and rain and has seeds stuck in the binding. This is not a coffee table book. This is a read it, use it book. There are no pretty photographs; there are no photographs. Just great road-tested advice on soil, tools, flowers, vegetables, shrubs, etc. No one subject is covered in depth, however, it covers every subject well and gets right to most important information. Like the "Joy of Cooking" in the kitchen, this is your all-purpose, when-do-I-plant- the-broccoli, how-do-I-spray-the-roses, where-do-I-put-the-fig-tree, kind of book. Would make an excellent housewarming gift for first time homeowners.
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on December 12, 1998
My copy of "The Garden Primer" is worn, tattered, and never on the shelf with the rest of my gardening books. I refer to Barbara's sage advice for everything. It's has allowed me to try new plants, techniques, and garden designs - all without feeling I don't know what I'm doing. It's like having a master gardener watching over you.
Be forewarned though - she writes most (if not all) of her gardening experience from a Connecticut/zone 5 background. Those in the desert regions of Arizona may find most her advice useless.
Buy it - you'll never need another gardening book again.
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on September 6, 2002
Enough said!
What no full-color photo's? None here & you won't even miss them! This book is written in such an easy to understand manner that it reads almost like a novel. It's the only gardening book I ever got through cover-to-cover! A mix of fun & science that walks you through the wonderful world of gardening and really helps you learn & become proficient at it! So unlike any other gardening book I ever purchased! I learned everything I know about gardening from this book & years ater still use it as a reference when taking on new projects!! : )
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