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Book Review: Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener

Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener
How to Create Unique Vegetables & Flowers
by Joseph Tychonievich

Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener

216 pages
Timber Press, 2013
List price: $19.95

For me, the best kind of non-fiction books are those in which you can “hear” the author in such a way as if he were right there before you, telling his “story.” Knowing Joseph Tychonievich personally, gave me an advantage while reading his words in his book, Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener.

But other readers who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Joseph will enjoy his written voice, too. The enthusiasm he has for just about anything he does serves him and his readers) well in his attempt to explain plant breeding to beginners.

When I first saw the title to Joseph’s book, I thought two things:

  1. What a perfect subject for him to write about, and
  2. This could be an academic yawner.

I was right about the first one, of course. Ever since I first met him, I knew he wanted to breed a tomato plant that’s hardy in northern climates. Plant breeding is his great love. But in spite of his enthusiasm for it, I was content to leave that business up to him and others. I’d just continue to enjoy the fruits of their collective labors.

But I was oh so wrong about the second one. Boring? NO. I love knowing the how, why, what and when about many things, and in spite of my doubts that technical information about plant sex could hold my attention, it did just that. Maybe it's because he likens it to baking cookies.

It’s a gift to be able to break such technical things down and present them in a way that's not only fascinating, but also in language simple enough that you don’t need a degree in horticulture to understand it. Joseph tells how to create customized plants that are suited for your garden (it's easier than you think), but even if you don’t want to venture into the world of plant breeding, it’s worth reading the book just to know what truly is going on out there in the gardens we love so much.

Joseph Tychonievich studied horticulture, plant breeding, and genetics at Michigan State University. He is the nursery manager at Arrowhead Alpines.

Read more garden book reviews.
Read Kylee Baumle’s blog, Our Little Acre.