Book Review The Heirloom Life Gardener

Let The Heirloom Life Gardener by Jere Gettle show you how, from novice to experienced gardener, we CAN all grow our own healthy and nutritious fruits and veggies.

The Heirloom Life Gardener l Grow your own fruits and veggies with heirloom seed l Homestead

Baker Creek Seed

First of all, if you live in the area be sure to visit the Gettle’s seed store, at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed company. My last move took me within easy driving distance of Baker Creek. At Christmas time I was able to happily amble through the store, imagining what each of my garden friends might love to grow. Baker Creek is, in short, seed nerd heaven.

The Heirloom Life Gardener was so helpful to me as a gardener and homesteader that I actually included it in the resources section of my own book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. With over 400 pages of DIYs, how-to’s and homestead helps over a myriad of topics, there’s bound to be something of interest to a gardener like you! For a free sample of the book, simply email me at Click below for more information.

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The Heirloom Life Gardener is a Seed Man

The New York Times Magazine called Jere Gettle the “Indiana Jones of seeds” and he surely is that! The work that he, his wife and his staff do to preserve heirloom seeds from around the world is so worth our praise and patronage.

Emilee Gettle, Jere’s wife, has a great blog called Heirloom Girl that you may want to check out. They also produce a very well written magazine called The Heirloom Gardener, many copies of which are sitting in my bathroom right now.

The Gettle’s also organized the Heirloom Seed Festival in California, which just enjoyed it’s second year. Anyway, they rock the seed world and I’m glad they’re on our side! So, I was so excited when they published The Heirloom Life Gardener!

What’s in The Heirloom Life Gardener?

So, on to the book The Heirloom Life Gardener, written by both Jere and Emilee. 

Garden Drool Pictures

Ok, you want to know how the graphics are?

Simply lovely.

There are lots of them, too, and they include shots of the Gettle’s adorable little girl, Sasha. There are a lot of photos of the same type of veggie, but different varieties so you can get an idea of all the possibilities. There’s also a nice photo-tutorial page for saving tomato seeds.

Beginning as an Heirloom Life Gardener

This book is a good one for beginners because it covers the basics of growing any veggie in a simple, engaging way. T

he Gettle’s are organic gardeners so you won’t have to wade through a bunch of conventional/chemical gardening advice only to have to alter everything in your head. You can take this info straight to the garden and use it.

There’s typical information on:

  • irrigation methods
  • fertilizers
  • growing techniques

Keep in mind that all recommendations are given with an holistic approach in mind.

Jere also includes a little prose about his travels in search of quality, heirloom seed for your reading pleasure and his anecdotes are captivating. He’s searched high and low on several continents and the man knows his seed; a fact that is reflected in their seed catalog as many choices are really very unique.

Plant Biographies

The bulk of the rest of the book is made up of individual bios of each veggie plant Gettle highlights. That’s 128 pages of information, to be exact!

Each vegetable or fruit has several sections in it’s breakdown:

  1. A little history
  2. Growing tips
  3. Pests/diseases
  4. Seed savinng
  5. In the kitchen

For instance, under corn, Jerre writes:

“Corn is a truly American vegetable that originated in Mexico and was developed into a staple crop over the course of thousands of years from a wild grass called teosinte. It is one of the main botanical backbones of many cultures around the globe, for its taste, nutrition, and how easy it is to grow.”

He goes to talk about the struggles they’ve had with their seed corn, keeping it GMO free. Corn is a wind-pollinated crop and you need to grow a good deal of it to save seed. Mr. Gettle describes how it’s getting harder to find places they can grow it and keep it pure!

He also talks about making hominy and tortillas with your home grown corn – the possibilities are endless.

Seed Saver Easy

May I just say how much I LOVED having the seed saving information right there. I didn’t have to go grab my copy of Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth book to remember how to save seed from each of the varities that Gettle was describing. I just made a note right in the margins of The Heirloom Life Gardener on whether or not I wanted to try saving the seed that year. You write in your books, too, yah?

This year turned out to be biennial year in my garden and I’ve got carrot and leek seeds ready to harvest. Squee!

Seed House Recommendations

To be an heirloom life gardener you must have a full blown seed addiction, I think. The Heirloom Life Gardener has a wonderful heirloom seed house list in the resource section at the back of the book.

I love this about the Gettles – they’re actually recommending high quality seed houses other than their own!

Their main goal is that you learn to garden and garden well, using high quality heirloom seeds. They also hope that you will learn to save those seeds. I think that makes them good people, don’t you?

The beauty about this book is that you can easily begin from where you are. If you’re not ready to start saving seed yet, no worries! Work on getting really good at growing up that crop of eggplant, or salsify, or whatever.

If you’re trying to stock your pantry with home-grown fruits and veggies, awesome – do that! The Heirloom Life Gardener can help you plan and prepare.

All around awesome people who create amazing resources for us gardening nerds – especially us heirloomy, organicy, holisticy gardening nerds!

Side Note Books

Incidentally, the Gettle’s are vegan and just put out a vegan cookbook called The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook.

I don’t own it yet, but Emillee shares a few recipes from the Cookbook in their magazine and on her blog and they look yummy! I’m not vegan but I love good vegan food and quality cookbooks for vegans can be hard to find.

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10 thoughts on “Book Review The Heirloom Life Gardener

  1. This was my first year growing Baker Creek seeds and I have to say they out performed all the others. The plants were less susceptible to pest and disease problems and the grew steady despite the lack of rain. I grow organically, sustainably and holistically, and am completely sold on heirlooms now. I also own their book and am a subscriber to their magazine. The information is very useful and inspiring, making me wanting to try new varieties in the garden each year. I am also an avid seed saver, passionate about preserving non-gmo varieties. Great post, I’m glad I found your blog!

    1. Isn’t amazing how well they do? I love their seeds and never grumble about paying more because I know it will be a one time purchase since I KNOW their plants will thrive. Thank you for your kind words; I love your site, as well!

  2. Corn is what I’m most excited about for next year’s garden. I went and followed Baker Creek every which way. They are at the top of my list now. So happy they ship to Canada!

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