Mitchell Beazley, London, August 2001. Distributor: Trafalgar Square, P.O. Box 257, Howe Hill Rd., North Pomfret, VT 05053. $15.95, 6x9, paperback, 192 pages. ISBN: 1-84000-153-4.
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Growing Fruit is a revised edition of a well-written book on cool-weather fruits first published in 1980. Mr. Baker is a highly regarded expert on this type of gardening.
The book is well-organized and provides all the basics needed to grow the standard fruits that are customary in England. The first section of about 40 pages includes a glossary and discussions on climate, siting factors, garden planning, soil and drainage, tools, pests, diseases and weeds and some remarks on greenhouse growing.
Following this the book gives a fruit-by-fruit discussion of choosing, planting, cultivating and harvesting. Cultivars popular in England are recommended. The next section of about 50 pages covers various soft fruits including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants and gooseberries, grapes, melons and a few less-popular ones such as blueberries, cranberries, worcesterberries, jostaberries and bilberries.
The rest of the book is devoted to tree fruits including apples, pears, plums, cherries, figs, peaches, apricots, mulberries, elderberries, quinces and medlars. The last part of this third section covers cobnuts, filberts, Spanish chestnuts and walnuts. A few comments on kiwi, cape gooseberries, passion fruit and citrus have been added. More than 300 nice line drawings illustrate a variety of gardening operations.
This book provides detailed directions for growing most standard temperate-zone fruit under prevailing conditions in England, and would probably be useful in much of the central U.S. -- the sort of book to give a neophyte gardener. It is not particularly applicable in more extreme climates -- very warm or very cold areas. It is not strong on exotic fruits. The English are famous gardeners, however, and there is always something to be learned in a study of their methods.