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Garden Lifestyle

The Heirloom Life Gardener Book Review

This holiday season, I've become wrapped up in a book that's tailor-made for my reading pleasure: The Heirloom Life Gardener.

  • The Heirloom Life Gardener by Jere and Emilee Gettle
    Photo/Illustration: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • 'Golden Midget' Watermelon
    Photo/Illustration: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • The Gettle family.
    Photo/Illustration: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • The Seed Bank in Petaluma, California
    Photo/Illustration: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

This holiday season, I’ve become wrapped up in a book that’s tailor-made for my reading pleasure: The Heirloom Life Gardener: The Baker Creek Way of Growing Your Own Food Easily and Naturally. As someone who’s become so smitten with heirloom and open-pollinated vegetables that I’ve penned a book on them myself, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on something written by some of the top heirloom trendsetters today, the founders of The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, Jere and Emilee Gettle.

What I’m enjoying most about this book is that it offers the unique perspective from farmers whose whole life is absorbed by the subject. The authors have traveled the globe in search of rare and nearly extinct vegetable varieties. They’ve sampled food from foreign cultures and became more energized by meeting the farmers and gathering historic seed.

The Heirloom Life Gardener begins with what heirloom vegetables are and why you’d want to grow them. It moves on to how Jere Gettle was practically born a farmer and his natural progression into life as a seeds-man. One of the chapters gives a taste of the authors’ adventures as they traveled the globe in search of rare and nearly extinct vegetable varieties. They’ve sampled food from foreign cultures and became more energized by meeting the farmers and gathering historic seed. I was thrilled to find a chapter that gets into the “how to’s” of gardening. Not because I did know how to before, but I didn’t know how they gardened and which techniques they use to find success.

It’s one of the that I love writing here at Vegetable Gardener.com. I thoroughly enjoy hearing how other people tend their gardens — because there’s always more than one way to get it right. Next comes a basic section on seed-saving and there’s even a chapter that addresses the popular city (urban) farming. The second half of the book is devoted to a growing guide for vegetables from A to Z. In this section the Gettles offer more specific information on start, growing, harvesting, and seed-saving vegetable types.

I met Jere and Emilee Gettle at their gorgeous satellite seed store “The Seed Bank” in Petaluma, California, which was built in the 1920s and was, for many years, an actual bank. The young entrepreneurs are leading the world in the self-sufficient parade, both with kind and unassuming demeanors. The Heirloom Gardener is a window into the soul of The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company and into the hearts of the family that runs it.

The New York times said “Gettle is the Indiana Jones of seeds.” After having the pleasure of meeting Jere, I think it’s an incredibly appropriate description.

The Heirloom Gardener: The Baker Creek Way of Growing Your Own Food Easily and Naturally by Jere and Emilee Gettle

Hardback: 227 pages

Publisher: Hyperion (October, 2011)

ISBN:  978-1401324390

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