Book Review | Harvest, by Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis
One of the joys of growing up is you get to decide what to eat…or maybe that’s just me because I love food. I have been working to expand the types of food I eat and the ingredients that I use. Admittedly, this is easier said than done when there are some foods that just make you feel like you are home. I dream of living in a place where a garden could be a reality and I could grow fresh fruits and veggies, be cool enough to can some of them, and be a neighbor who shares her harvests, but as of now that is not my reality and I am honestly not sure whether I have a black or green thumb.
When the opportunity to read Harvest came up I jumped on it and I wasn’t disappointed.
This book is filled with some gorgeous photographs of 47 different plants paired with descriptions of the plant and a project or recipe that can be done with it. From arranging branches or flowers, food and drink recipes, to how to make plant dyes and medicinal balms, this book has a little bit of everything.
Harvest is broken down into three main sections: Early, Mid, and Late, beginning with rhubarb and ending with calendula. Each plant has a description of the plant, favorite varieties from the author, what conditions the plant grows in, tips, and suggestions for ways to use the plant. For some plants, such as elderberry, there are warnings of how/what to use because of sensitivity, or because the plant is harmful when not used or prepared correctly.
I found this an easier read than I expected due to a more conversational tone to the descriptions than a dry textbook feel.
Also the pictures account for just shy of half the book. Let me tell you I would have wanted this book for the photographs alone. I was swooning over the crispness and the colors David Fenton captured, and kept trying to feel the pages for the textures that I saw. Needless to say this made me look silly and was highly ineffective.
There were a few issues for me though.
I wish the pictures had labels for which variety plant was being highlighted. This is especially true for the pages that had multiple suggestions for varieties. I could do an image search and compare but that takes a lot of extra time. If they didn’t want to label, a picture index would have worked for me as well. There was also some redundancy in the language; specifically about when to pick the plants and why. For some pages it had me wondering if it was filler content to complete the page.
I had the biggest issue with the USDA zone map not being included in the book.
When I first read to reference page 206 for the zone information I expected a map, but when I went to it I found the website instead. While the website is more comprehensive than what you could put in a book, I kept finding myself trying to flip to see the map. I wanted the instant gratification of knowing whether a plant would grow well or need some extra loving, or just a pass for where I live and my imaginary garden.
One of my favorite things I learned would be how lawns came to be.
Originally they were status symbols. The authors really fill out what a yard could have if we grew less grass, and I love it. An important reminder is to always have your soil tested. This ensures you grow food where there is a lack of heavy metals or other contaminates in the soil, and instead use other soil for non-edible plants.
Overall, I would recommend this book and appreciate receiving a copy of this book from Blogging For Books to review. Until I have my own space I will continue to build my imaginary garden and pretend I have the greenest of thumbs.