Gardening with Emma: Grow and Have Fun: A Kid-to-Kid Guide, by Emma Biggs – Book Review
Gardening with Emma: Grow and Have Fun: A Kid-to-Kid Guide
The theme of Gardening with Emma is stated best by its author, “Our job as gardeners is simple: have fun in the garden while we figure out the best way to help our plants grow.”
Emma Biggs is a twelve-year old passionate gardener who lives and gardens in Canada with her dad, Steven Biggs, who happens to be Emma’s co-author. She also has help from her brothers who are featured in the book and seem to embrace the “have fun in the garden” aspect. The book includes interviews and recommendations from leading gardening experts on the topics of tomatoes, foraging, native bees and more.
Part of the appeal of Gardening with Emma is the vivid photography showcasing kids and the things they’re most interested in, like bugs, dirt, playing in the garden, funny plants, and more. This is definitely not a book showing neatly manicured, magazine-worthy gardens!
Added to that are the engaging and entertaining illustrations by Bob Hodgson that ably explain gardening concepts and capture a child’s attention without being overly childish.
Emma intended this book to be a “Kid-to-Kid Guide,” but whether you are young or old, new to gardening or very experienced, you will learn from and enjoy the gardening journey Emma has created.
Chapter One – Garden ABCs
In this chapter, Emma leads the reader on a journey of gardening basics. Her subject matter includes a description of good soil, when to water, how much light a plant needs, seeds to grow and those to avoid. Foraging weeds that are edible, along with good bugs vs. bad bugs are also in this first chapter. Plus, the reader will get to see first-hand the supplies Emma deems necessary for every gardener.
Chapter one finishes with three do-it-yourself projects any gardener would enjoy. They include a bug vacuum, an insect hotel (great for native bees), and an incubation station for growing countertop caterpillars.
Chapter Two – Great Gardens for Kids
The gardening journey with Emma continues as she defines the best type of garden a kid can have – very simply, it’s a space where they can have fun!
For example, she highlights the recommendation that a color garden should include the colors you love by featuring Oliver and Kim’s purple garden. She also describes young entrepreneurs, Lina and Ella, who grew their own flower stand through their cut-flower garden. And her discussion of a “tickling garden” takes a unique view of those plants that can be used to tickle those who may be working in the garden with you.
Emma is a tomato lover and has grown as many as 68 different varieties in one season, including Mortgage Lifter, Sun Gold, Cherokee Purple and Sunrise Bumble Bee just to name a few. There’s no such thing as “too many” when it comes to having fun with your garden.
Emma concludes her garden ideas with suggestions for growing a pizza garden, a garden for all the senses (especially sound), having giants in your garden, and ways to incorporate bees, birds, bugs and butterflies into the gardening experience.
After Emma has enticed you to try your hand at a new type of garden, she gives another do-it-yourself recipe – this time for making a hypertufa pot. And if you have the energy for another fun project, Emma describes how to grow an above ground garden using straw bales.
Chapter Three – A Bit of Practical Advice
No gardening book would be complete without some advice about what works, what doesn’t, and the best ways to do things.
If you’re just starting out, you will need to decide if your garden is going to be in a pot, a raised bed, a box or the ground. Emma covers the ins and outs of each option and then guides the reader on the journey of starting seeds, planting outside, and plant propagation.
The do-it-yourself project in this chapter is a cold frame, which allows the gardener to extend the growing season. (This is a very important concept for those in cold climates with short growing seasons.)
Chapter 4 – Fall and Winter Garden Fun
I was sorry to get to the last chapter since the journey with Emma is fun, colorful and inspiring.
Her final chapter gives advice on fall clean up, composting, and planting for next year, and features Emma’s family enjoying the harvest with cider making and harvesting pumpkins.
The final do-it-yourself project for winter enjoyment is growing microgreens indoors – who says gardening stops when snow arrives?
Emma concludes with a reminder to feed the birds during winter by showing examples of nesting boxes, types of feeds and suet.
Gardening with Emma is worth the purchase for the pictures alone. Adults who garden can quickly get caught up in the rules, the science, the shoulds and the should-nots. Emma Biggs does an excellent job reminding adults why they began to garden in the first place – for the fun of it. But perhaps the biggest gift Emma gives with this book is inspiring young gardeners to be good stewards of nature, to grow plants and, most importantly, to have fun outdoors.
Where To Buy
This 144-page paperback volume is published by Storey Publishing and is available for purchase through Amazon (where it’s also available as a Kindle edition), as well as other online retailers.
Last update on 2020-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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