Book review: Sugar snaps and strawberries.

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries:  Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Garden – Andrea Bellamy (2010, Timber Press, Inc., Portland)

This beautifully-photographed tome is a must-have for wannabe small-space urban gardeners:  it’s a comprehensive how-to manual that details all of the necessities for creating an aesthetically-pleasing and highly productive food garden on a balcony, deck, courtyard, driveway, or small yard.  Containers, of course, are the cornerstones of Bellamy’s designs, but she also offers construction plans for raised beds.  All the gardening nuts and bolts are covered:  light, water, soil, amendments, fertilizers, siting, pest control (organically, natch!) and all of the cultural requirements from sowing to pruning to harvest (including a really great section about saving seed and deliniating the terms “heirloom” and “hybrid”).

About one third of the book is devoted to the food plants themselves, with brief, detailed portraits of standby greens, herbs, tomatoes, root veggies and small fruits – and some surprises, such as mushrooms and grains.  I’m a bit astonished that Bellamy has included larger plants such as apples and corn on this list (particularly the latter, about which she writes, “Unfortunately, corn, also known as maize, is not suited to growing in very small places.”   I’m not quite sure it belongs here, especially as she doesn’t mention that it can be grown as shoots, which may be more appropriate given the theme of the book.  In her defense, though, a small yard can support a few corn plants, soooooo).  All in all, however, the plant selections are excellent small-space choices and many of them can be grown even in geographical locations with limited frost-free days.

Written in a easy-going, very accessible manner (and as an aside, I LOVE the fonts and layout!), this is THE primer for small-space gardeners looking to get started on their first food garden…it’s well worth purchasing as a reference tool.


Bellamy is the creator of the blog Heavy Petal, which can be found here.


Related posts:  The Book of Little Hostas.

How to Grow Your Food.


  1. It would be hard to grow corn in a container but if you’ve got a yard with good sunlight you can grow it. I did it in my raised veg bed in HP. Not sure I’d try it here in the gardening Mecca of Swan Hills but you can grow it.

  2. Hi Sheryl,

    Thanks for your review of my book! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    I understand your point about including larger edibles – corn definitely doesn’t belong in a container! That said, the book was intended to be fairly comprehensive, so I tried to include edibles suited to small yards as well. Although I gotta say… apples (appropriately dwarf-rooted apples) do very well in containers! And I’ve successfully grown corn in a raised bed with as few as 12 plants. It’s all trial and error, right? 🙂

    Happy gardening,

    • Hi, Andrea, thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I definitely have to rethink my (narrow) views on corn being a large-scale crop! And, yes, I agree that apples can be suitable in containers, although it’s not really something we do much of here in chilly Alberta, unless there are provisions for overwintering. Your book is an excellent, highly informative read and I would recommend it to anyone!

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