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May 13, 2023

The 30-Minute Gardener by Greg Loades ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

The weather has warmed and time to get outside. The thoughts of summer BBQs and pool parties get you through the work week, but then you look at your yard - do you see a paradise, a personal oasis from the world? Or do you see endless hours of mowing, watering, pruning?  In his new book, Greg Loades walks you through a way to cultivate a 30-minutes a day gardening habit that will have you finding daily respite.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of nonfiction book The 30-minute Gardener by Greg Loades
May 2023; Timber Press; 978-1643261331
ebook, print (232 pages); nonfiction

I've always enjoyed being outside but I haven't always been a gardener and often have a love-hate relationship with my yard. I picked up Greg Loades's book because I was hoping to find tips on how to get to only 30 minutes of gardening a day. However, this book is more about starting a gardening habit. So if you are wanting to get outside more, find enjoyment in your yard, and connect to nature, then this book would be great for you.

As a new gardener reading this book, you should keep in mind a few things - some Loades mentions and others I think he should have. 

One, remember that geography matters. Loades is in England - the multiple mentions of courgettes should clue you in since in the U.S. we call the summer squash zucchini. If you are in the northern portions of the states then your climate might be similar to his. However, for me in the deep south, I would have to shift some of the things he mentioned up a few months (we don't grow beets in the summer in the South - we plant them in either April or September). 

Two, the size of your yard also matters. He advocates using a manual-powered push mower but does recognize for large yards that it isn't feasible. It can take me 2 hours to mow and that isn't even mowing my entire property. Watering my garden which is just a small portion of my front yard took 45 minutes. 

Three, some projects in the garden take time to set up so you are going to want to spend more time doing them than 30 minutes a day - it takes me 15 minutes to get the saw and extension cord set up when I cut bamboo which has taken over about half of my property. I tackle this project when I have a few hours to devote to it. 

That being said, Loades gives some great advice for getting started in the garden even if it does seem overwhelming. During the first year of the pandemic, I saw how much progress could be made with just 30 minutes a day. I cleaned the English ivy out of my side yard by going out every day and pulling it up for 30 minutes. 

Another piece of advice that I wholeheartedly agree with is treating your gardening as an experiment. My failed attempts at gardening such as the time (also during that first year of the pandemic) I built a raised bed with cement blocks and filled it with expensive soil only to have the bamboo that I thought I had dug out re-grow. I decided that I just wouldn't ever have a vegetable garden after that (I had grand plans of adding 7 or 8 raised beds in that area of my yard). But then, as Loades advises, I started viewing my garden as a science experiment. As I'm a scientist so this came naturally to me. It looks a lot like trial and error but no experiment is truly a failure if you can learn something from it.

If you liked me rambling about my garden adventures in this review, then you will probably like Loades's book. Garden people can't help but talk about their gardens. And Loades shares plenty about his own garden adventures.

There are also plenty of pretty pictures of beautiful plants. The chapters are short so you might consider starting your 30-minute gardening habit by sitting outside reading a chapter or two of this book. 

Chapters 4 through 7 are focused on the season. As this book comes out at the end of spring, you might want to skip winter and spring and start right with summer as Loades provides suggestions for seasonal tasks that you might want to do. And then read the chapters for Fall, Winter, and Spring so that you will be prepared as we enter those phases of gardening.

While this book is geared for the new gardener, as someone who already has a 30+ minute garden habit I found validation in my methods as I had already discovered many of the things Loades includes in his book. So whether you are just getting started or wanting encouragement on her journey, you will find The 30-Minute Gardener useful.

Buy The 30-Minute Gardener at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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