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93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource for the beginning gardener
Twenty years ago I remember discovering Barbara Damrosch's The Garden Primer at the local library. It was full of practical advice dispensed in such an engaging manner and I ended up buying myself a copy. The Garden Primer is a rare exception of a gardening book that can benefit gardeners no matter where they live. It is especially helpful to novice gardeners who want to...
Published on April 8, 2008 by Phillip O.

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating
I live in the the Northeast and a friend recommended this as the go-to resource for gardening in our area. The author obviously loves her subject matter and has years and years of experience. However, this book reads like she has so many years of experience that she can't lay out the most basic of information for beginners and seasoned gardeners. Want to know the...
Published on May 22, 2012 by Ms Margaret


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93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource for the beginning gardener, April 8, 2008
This review is from: The Garden Primer: Second Edition (Paperback)
Twenty years ago I remember discovering Barbara Damrosch's The Garden Primer at the local library. It was full of practical advice dispensed in such an engaging manner and I ended up buying myself a copy. The Garden Primer is a rare exception of a gardening book that can benefit gardeners no matter where they live. It is especially helpful to novice gardeners who want to start a garden but are not exactly sure where to begin.

The first chapters deal with the basics - what plants need in order to grow properly, how to prepare your soil, starting your own seeds, proper planting methods and how to deal with insects and diseases. A chapter on gardening gear covers tools, what to wear and how to organize it all.

Damrosch then goes into plant specifics with chapters on Annuals, Perennials, Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, Bulbs, Roses, Lawns, Ground Covers, Vines, Shrubs, Tree, Wildflowers and Houseplants. Each section discusses how to buy plants, how to plan your site (with some planting scheme plans included), how to grow the plants and maintain them. She then includes an encyclopedia of specific plants with descriptions and basic growing advice. The vegetable section is even more extensive with details on growing and harvesting. If plants are more suited to certain areas of the country, it is mentioned.

Another element of this book that I enjoy are the wonderful illustrations. They are black-and-white, simple and yet so effective. And I'm so glad they kept the illustration of the garden shed on the endsheets. I've always admired that and maybe this year I will finally get my own tools organized like it!

The second edition, which has just been published (March 2008), has been updated to include new varieties of plants, more efficient methods and techniques and more up-to-date trends. More plants have been included, especially native plants which are so popular today. The book is "100% Organic"!

Damrosch claims in her forward that she set out to write a "simple" book on gardening. Her engaging writing style and clear instructions do just that but this 820 page book is so much more than that. It provides a wealth of information for beginning gardeners and has proven to be a book that I return to again and again. I highly recommend it.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Gardener's Guide, April 1, 2008
This review is from: The Garden Primer: Second Edition (Paperback)
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.

Indispensable!

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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of many similar books, I use this one the most, March 24, 2010
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This review is from: The Garden Primer: Second Edition (Paperback)
UPDATE: BUY THE HARDCOVER VERSION OF THIS BOOK! It is simply too large to be bound in softcover. I bought the softcover version about 3 months ago and after only moderate use, many pages have fallen right out.

I bought this book to teach me what the heck to do with the 400+ plant gardens I inherited when I bought my current home. I had little experience with plants, and even less with gardening out of containers. This book has been very valuable and helpful to me, and I refer to it often. I have several (okay, tons) of similar "all-purpose"/encyclopedic gardening books, but this is the one I refer to the most. It cuts through all the superfluous information and tells me just what I need to know, instead of completely overwhelming me. It also has a very handy section on plants (annuals, perennials, veggies, fruits, shrubs, vines, etc.) that are easier to grow than most, with care instructions, idiosyncrasies, varieties to try, etc.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, May 22, 2012
This review is from: The Garden Primer: Second Edition (Paperback)
I live in the the Northeast and a friend recommended this as the go-to resource for gardening in our area. The author obviously loves her subject matter and has years and years of experience. However, this book reads like she has so many years of experience that she can't lay out the most basic of information for beginners and seasoned gardeners. Want to know the optimum temperature for planting pea seeds? It's not in this book. Need to find out what to do with your root knot nematode problem? There's only a fleeting mention of this pest. How does one harden off seedlings that have been started inside without killing them? Only a short, sparse description of this tricky process, without even an acknowledgement that sudden moves from inside to outside can burn a plant to death.

Most gardeners prefer to spend the bulk of their time outside gardening. They consult books to gain valuable information like when to plant what and how to deal with pests. A book that lays out this information in an easy to read, easy to access format is so much more helpful than a text like "The Garden Primer." I'm sure the author is a nice person and I don't doubt that there are people who will keep this tome by their bedside for a little pre-sleep reading (especially in winter when the garden is dormant). But there are better resources out there. If you're seduced by the word "organic" in this book's description and obsessed with having a book marketed as being exclusively eco-friendly, Tanya Denckla's "The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food" is both concise and thorough. If you want a book that spells out the basics of vegetable gardening (organic or non-), then Mel Batholomew's "Square Foot Gardening" is actually quite helpful.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the first edition, May 14, 2008
By 
G. Foster "organic gardener" (Gardiner, New York United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Garden Primer: Second Edition (Paperback)
I have long been a fan of the first edition and was pleased to hear the author on the radio recently. The second edition is newly updated and includes many details for organic gardeners which I enjoy. It is comprehensive in nature and well organized. It is the definitive garden book. You just can't do better.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My go-to gardening book, October 22, 2010
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This review is from: The Garden Primer: Second Edition (Paperback)
I've had the original version of this for years and have been eyeing the updated version. I was a little skeptical about getting a reference book for my kindle (I did buy the kindle version), but I am not at all disappointed. The sketches are all in place and it is easy to manuveur through my favorite, all-encompassing gardening book. There's never been a question I haven't been able to find an answer for in this book. I appreciate Barbara's down to earth advice and I know that she lives the life of a full time gardner. Very glad to have the updated version, still reading through it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garden Primer, August 31, 2009
This review is from: The Garden Primer: Second Edition (Paperback)
This is, without doubt, one of the best and most comprehensive gardening books I have ever seen. Not only does it include a wide variety of plants but it tells the best growing conditions for them , I found this lacking in many other gardening books. I am so impressed with the information and extensive knowledge shared by the author that I have ordered 4 volumes for Christmas gifts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I need to buy another copy, first one fell apart from too much use!, February 6, 2010
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This review is from: The Garden Primer: Second Edition (Paperback)
I think they should have called this one the "Garden Bible" because it is the answer to virtually all your gardening questions. It is not only really informative, but also funny to read - very entertaining!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource, May 3, 2008
By 
Patrick J. Drohan (Oneonta, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Garden Primer: Second Edition (Paperback)
One of the best all around garden resource books I own. Certainly worth the money.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent "HOW TO " guide for the beginning gardener, March 8, 2009
By 
Tara L. Beard (Middle Tennessee) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Garden Primer: Second Edition (Paperback)
Wow, this garden guide is packed with a wealth of information, and at a terrific price from Amazon. The book begins with an in depth look at proper soil preparation - which is the key to plant growth. Need help planning your landscaping? Find out in chapter 2. Need to know what tools are necessary for gardening? Read chapter 3. Need advice on annuals vs perennials? Chapters 5 and 6 are a must read.

We were interested in building a couple of rasied bed gardens this year. The garden guy at Lowe's recommended this book to us and raved for 20 minutes about his success using the tips found in the book.

If you are interested in planting a garden, but have little knowledge or experience, this book will be helpful. There are over 150 pages packed into chapter 7 on VEGETABLES. Detailed planting and growing info is given for just about any vegetable.

You can also learn how to successfully grow fruits, herbs, flowers, ground covers, vines, shrubs, trees, wildflowers, roses, bulbs, and even houseplants.
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The Garden Primer: Second Edition
The Garden Primer: Second Edition by Barbara Damrosch (Paperback - February 28, 2008)
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