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The Garden Primer: Second Edition

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  649 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Now the beloved classic is revised front-to-back. The new edition has gone 100% organic, which in Barbara Damrosch's hands also means completely accessible. It reflects the latest research on plants, soils, tools, and techniques. There is updated and expanded information on planning a garden, recommended plants, and best tools. Ecological issues are addressed much more ext ...more
Hardcover, 832 pages
Published February 28th 2008 by Workman Publishing Company (first published January 10th 1988)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 07, 2012 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is THE quintessential go-to book for gardening questions. Damrosch takes it to the next level--but only if the reader needs to go there. It works for the beginning gardener, listing plant by plant, the basics required to grow it. For the advanced gardener, she includes soil breakdowns and pH, along with pests and how to treat them. She takes the reader from beginning to end--the best basic tools, how to care for them, how to store them. There are designs in the book, tips that seem off the ...more
Dec 13, 2013 MissingHenryMitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who believes he or she has a brown thumb.
Shelves: how-to
This is one of the first gardening books I ever read. It gave me an excellent gardening foundation, and from that foundation I gained the confidence to begin experimenting with plants.

Yes, it's a big, thick book. It covers (forgive me) a lot of ground. Beginning with chapters on planning your property, surveys of what plants need, and what gear gardeners require to help meet those needs, Damrosch provides clear and practical knowledge that novice gardeners can put to use immediately. From there,
Jun 30, 2014 Nova rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fairly good overview of everything gardening has to offer and is definitely a good place to start for some basic information. It is by no means all encompassing, but I found it lacking in part by the attempt it made at being broad.

For one thing, this book assumes you are a homeowner who can do what you wish with your yard for gardening space. It very briefly touches on container gardening and small space gardening but they are mere paragraphs with little to no information on the topi
Molly Mccarty
Jul 18, 2016 Molly Mccarty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must go to book for any gardener. Between three of my gardening friends, we have agreed that this is one resource we would not be without.
I recently audited the Master Gardener course and I used this as a weekly adjunct to the material we covered in class. In only one area, that of Native Plants and Prairie Gardening, did I not find corresponding material in this book to match our lessons. Such a gardening emphasis is relatively new, and my copy is dated 1988.
Still highly relevant and
Nov 15, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is my gardening bible! It's thorough and well-written.

Region is important in gardening books. The Garden Primer is written by a New Englander and is very well-suited to my small, urban, MA garden. People always tell me I have a green thumb, and I have to respond, "I just read a lot before I started digging." What I mean is, I read this book cover to cover, and have read it many times in pieces since then. The best garden reference book I own, and a great way to get started if you're n
Apr 13, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not something that one would generally expect to find witty, inviting, and readable just for the sake of reading.

It was.

The author has an engaging voice, and breaks down gardening into the simplest of terms for even the most incompetent novice. (aka: me) Her descriptions of the desired texture of the soil, or what a certain kind of pest looks like are so accurate that a picture would be redundant. Her little wry comments had Steve double checking to make sure I was actually reading
Sep 03, 2014 Hana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gardening
I grew up spending summers on the Jersey Shore (the one in the US). My mother was wild about gardens and I seem to have inherited the longing for the feel of the soil and the sun on the herbs. But it was Barbara Damrosch's book that taught me to really study gardening as a science as well as a just a joyful art.

This book has lots of basic but very detailed and helpful practical advice. Thanks to Damrosch, I grew the earliest peas in the neighborhood in the first garden I could call my own in Ma
Garrett Zecker
This book is a fantastic, all in one compendium for the modern gardener. It is full of advice on building, fostering, feeding, flora, and just about every aspect of gardening. It is great - if you are just starting out, or you have been gardening for a while, this book is really and all in one resource for you to use in the garden and in the living room. Really helpful! Would rate it more, but it is almost like rating a dictionary - a dictionary is a dictionary. I will say this, though - it beat ...more
Aug 26, 2016 Jakob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the absolute bible for gardening. I had gone through a few other books before my mother sent me her copy of The Garden Primer to no real satisfaction. Most of the books I read were immensely basic to the point I felt they were possibly written for kindergarteners.
The Garden Primer is basic yet in depth to the point that you'll feel confident in what your doing when you dig your hands into the earth. Definitly a 'must read' to those looking to get into gardening.
Jun 02, 2011 Kellie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, outdoors
I picked this up because it is the book that my friend who I thought knew everything about gardening refers to. Surprisingly, a novice like me can understand it too. Very simple and straightforward. The introductory chapters are worth reading through if you are a newbie - about soil, garden planning, etc - but this is also the book you want on your shelf to refer to about particular plants and what they need once you get rolling. Love it.
Mar 07, 2009 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gardening
This is a GREAT book. The version I have was printed a long time ago, I don't know if there is a newer version out there. The only thing that could be better is that she gives you places to order different catalogues, flowers, etc. and there aren't any websites. :) It has information for every type of garden: vegetable, fruit, flower, shurb, tree, wild, herb... I think I'm going to buy it I liked it so much.
Apr 14, 2016 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Okay, I will admit that I didn't sit down and read this book cover-to-cover, but I did start it and read in detail the parts that I found particularly interesting and relevant and skimmed through those that weren't. I know next to nothig about gardening and needed a solid, comprehensive guide to get me started and this fit the bill.
Oct 11, 2007 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to start a garden of any kind
Shelves: gardening
Began using this book in 2002, and I continue to use it as my gardening bible. It has so much good information for when to plant, how to treat, when to harvest, ph level of the soil, how to prepare the soil, etc. Everything you need to know to garden, minus local info about weather, but you can find that easily online. I have a local book, but I use this much more frequently.
Oct 25, 2010 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist, garden
An necessary reference for organic gardening- answers fundamental questions, offers wisdom about what plants need, how to plan your landscape, what garden gear is essential, how to choose and purchase plants, how to harvest bountiful vegetables in your region, and how to keep indoor plants in good health. Comprehensive but well-organized, so it doesn't feel overwhelming.
Jackie Gately
Aug 13, 2015 Jackie Gately rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book twenty years ago to learn the basics when I bought my home. Just purchased the new edition of "The Garden Primer" for my son, who also enjoys gardening. It's a must-have for any serious gardener. Covers all the basics, from soil and nutrition, to detailed growing guidelines for vegetables, fruits, perennials, annuals and more. A keeper and lifetime reference.
May 14, 2015 Clarke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book, 411, borrowed, e-library
I really enjoyed using this book as a reference. It was simple and easy to use. Although the drawings were black and white they were clean, yet detailed and pleasing to the eye. Now why not 5 stars? I would've liked more information, colored pictures, and troubleshooting. Although I got this from the library is still own a copy.
David Ward
The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch (Workman Publishing Company 1998) (635). This volume is an extensive catalog of small articles on every imaginable topic about gardening. The sheer number of topics comes at a price: the articles are extremely general in nature. My rating 6.5/10, finished 2005.
Christa Cordova
Feb 12, 2012 Christa Cordova rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Packed full of great advice, focused on organic gardening practices. I feel that my thumb is opposite of green, yet I'm hoping the knowledge I gained from this book will get the garden of my dreams off to a good start!
Mar 12, 2009 De rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An invaluable but verrryyy looooong book. I was primarily interested in the vegetable section which was very well written in a commonsense fashion. (finally someone says how often to water and why!) I think my garden will be better than ever this year!
Jul 17, 2014 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent basic primer on everything organic gardening. GREAT for a beginner but still comprehensive. Taps into common-sense and tried and true farmer's wisdom. I got this from the library, renewed it twice, and then finally just bought it because it is definitely a great reference to have!
Apr 29, 2009 Tish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've found this book very helpful while planning and working in my garden. The advice is simple and easy to understand and organized in a way that makes looking information up easy. It's a great book for any gardener.
Kathy Kenney
Have actually read most of this book, at least the beginner chapters about how to garden, then about vegetable garden. Seems invaluable and I would definitely like to own. I'm a beginner gardener, and this would be a wonderful reference book.
Jul 04, 2008 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just started a garden and this book has been invaluable. If you want to take care of a few house plants or grow food for the neighbors, I highly recommend it. But get the new one she just published this year-updated and more organic info.
Oct 16, 2007 Meghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: new gardeners
Shelves: gardening
When I first started gardening, I found this book very helpful. It covers all the basics of gardening with ornamentals, veggies, and herbs; is easy to read; and makes gardening feel less overwhelming and more do-able.
Jan 18, 2009 Chris marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The previous owner of our new house kept a nice vegetable garden and I'd like to keep it going. Gretchen and I ran a little veggie growing experiment last year and it convinced me that we should that it's worth the effort (and that I needed to learn more).
Probably shouldn't have attempted this as a cover-to-cover. There was a lot of good information and a lot of long lists of vegetables, pests, etc. Better as a reference book than as an introduction to garden, which was more what I wanted.
Nov 22, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gardening
ONe of the best garden books I have came across. It is complete and can tell you how to grow anything organically! I loved the way it was organized. I plan on buying this for my own library and future reference.
Jan 02, 2016 Wilma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not read every page of this book but I did read most of it. It is a lovely encyclopedia of gardening, plants, houseplants and the like. I will definitely keep this on my shelf for reference.

Good writer and obviously a wonderful and devoted gardener.
Apr 16, 2011 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very helpful, especially for my first time gardening on my own. I'm planning on buying my own copy so I don't have to keep renewing it at the library.

Edit April 2011- I was bought this as a birthday present this year. Hooray!
Jul 04, 2013 Brett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book if you're as clueless in the garden as I am. Tips for everyone, from beginners to advanced gardeners. And the explanations are pitched just right.
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Barbara has worked professionally in the field of horticulture since 1977. She writes, consults and lectures on gardening and farming and is owner of Four Season Farm, an experimental market garden in Harborside, Maine.

Barbara writes a weekly column for for The Washington Post called A Cook's Garden. She is also the author of The Garden Primer and Theme Gardens and her writing has been published e
More about Barbara Damrosch...

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