From the title, Sugar Snaps and Strawberries (Timber Press, 224 pages, $19.95) sounds like a frilly coffee-table topper filled with glossy photos of impractical projects crafted in the name of DIY ("Put a bird on it" anyone?). You're wrong. This book won't yield any mantle-cluttering knickknacks. Instead Andrea Bellamy, the woman behind the popular West Coast garden blog Heavy Petal (heavypetal.ca), has gathered her seeds of wisdom into a new manual for the urban gardener. She's creating a book that's easy on the eyes and focuses on something it seems like every Portlander craves: a no-brainer edible garden.
Bellamy, whose blog bounces from topics like making your own quince-infused booze to how to turn compost, understands the need to be conservative with space. Unlike the Martha Stewarts and Ina Gartens of the world, with their behemoth country homes on many sprawling East Coast acres, Bellamy lives in a townhouse in Vancouver, B.C., where she has several small gardens tucked away—on her balcony, in the townhouse's communal yard, and even along the alleyway behind the building.
The home and garden writer shows how to feed oneself off the land you own, rent or otherwise occupy, no matter how tiny the plot. If you were not blessed with green-thumbed parents or an innate ability to keep things alive, you'll no longer be forced to scour About.com for instructions on how to blend the ideal soil mix to grow beets or how to keep red wiggler worms digesting your compost. She even read The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insects and Disease Control so you won't ever have to. Gorgeous pictures and simple instructions both inspire and guide readers through the planning, planting and harvesting of a garden.
Pretty much all you have to do is buy some two-by-fours, follow her seven easy steps to making a raised bed and consult her list of the 10 easiest edibles to decide what to plant and eat. Then get down on your knees and pray for sunshine, people.
GO: Andrea Bellamy reads at Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651. 7:30 pm Monday, March 7. Free.