From a favorite gardenblogger comes Sugar Snaps and Strawberries


AndreabookAndrea Bellamy, author of the Vancouver blog Heavy Petal (tagline "from the West Coast Urban Organic Perspective") has a book out, which is reminding me of the early days of gardenblogging and how much I enjoyed reading hers (yes, there was a time when I was a loyal reader of gardenblogs; today, not so much). 

Heavy Petal launched in June of '05, so it was one of the few around that inspired me and unwittingly encouraged me to start my own, a month later.  I have fond memories of her wedding, the launch of her snazzy new blog design (by husband Ben, I believe), and of course, her pregnancy

Some of the more intriguing categories on Heavy Petal include "Raving and Whining", "Resistance is Fertile", and "WTF?", which she says is for the bitchy voyeur in us all.  (Thank you, Andrea, for daring to use a controversial acronym so prominently!  Gardenbloggers can be soooo well-behaved.)

To catch up with Andrea I perused her blog category "The Book" and learned that writing a book had long been one of her dreams, as evidenced by a "mortifying" video taken on the night of her high school graduation.

The videographer asked everyone to say where they were going to be in 10 years, and I said something about living in a VW van and creating world peace. I KNOW. And I was completely sober. But I also said I was going to write a book. And now, just a few years later (ha!) I can check that off my list. Done. 

Sugarsnaps Though not without trepidation: "What if there’s an error? What if someone doesn’t like it? It’s so much scarier than hitting 'publish' on a blog post. This thing is in print." 

That's exactly my reaction to the notion of writing a book, except for the part about doing it anyway, despite how scary it all is.  But thankfully Andrea forged ahead – while raising a baby, no less – and the result is this marvelous book that's   entertaining, extremely useful, and lovely.  I recommend it highly. 

There's a short (too short) bio of Andrea on the Timber Press website, but from the back cover of the book we learn that she's studied both garden design and permaculture, and has been gardening since childhood.  She's "an active guerrilla gardener and a proud steward of a plot in her local community garden."  She also gardens on the balcony of her family's third-floor apartment, so is well qualified to instruct us in the art of growing food in small spaces.

Just leave a comment and I'll choose one at random (so don't worry about being clever).  Suggested topics include growing food, why you need the book, or best of all, anything about Andrea and Heavy Petal.  Entries close 6 p.m. Eastern this Friday the 14th.


  1. I need this book to pull me out of deep winter denial! I spend my nights dreaming about peonies and potatoes and my days wandering around in a hibernation haze.

  2. Oh I have been waiting and waiting for this book to come out! I am a HUGE fan of Andrea and a long time reader of Heavy Petal. She is a very down-to-earth and honest writer as a blogger and so I look forward to reading her book cover to cover.

    If you have not read her blog, be sure to check it out.

    Yeah Andrea! Whoot!

  3. All of these things are my favorites!

    1. Peas are my favorite vegetable. I love peas. LOVE them. My pea-adoration far exceeds what is usually normal for something like that.

    2. Strawberries are my favorite fruit, but only the small, from-a-local-garden type, not giant, populates-the-grocery-store-in-winter type.

    3. Edible gardening is my favorite kind. So much so that I proposed, developed, and maintained (along with some awesome volunteers) an Edible Landscape at my previous job.

  4. “Simple Solutions” is the part that catches my eye. I’m a newb at urban gardening, just laying my first patches of sheet mulch, just researching my first varieties of thornless blackberries. Would love a copy of this book to ease and encourage my struggles.

  5. One of the things I enjoy most about you Ranters, is your generosity – taking the time to keep all of us informed about everything going on in the gardening world, including turning us on to things like other great writers and their blogs & books. Life is good! Many thanks.


  6. As a longtime reader of Heavy Petal, I’m rooting for Andrea and her book!
    I’m all sorts of black thumbs when it comes to growing in small spaces… my 124sq ft garden-in-the-ground does magnificently but the containers on my porch? Kaput. [One’s a wine crate!]
    I love reading many gardener’s takes on container and small space gardening! [finding every little bit on full-to-part sun in my backyard? yeah…]
    Simply cannot wait for this book to come out!

  7. I love Peas and Strawberries! And I’d love to read a book about how to grow them in small spaces, such as my deck. I have some strawberry starts my builder gave me that he took from plants that his grandmother got from a neighbor oh-so-long-ago! I have no idea what to do with them, other than keep them alive! Help!

  8. To damn cold to write anything clever! It’s been 5 here at night the past few days without enough snow for insulation. Bring on March!

  9. After 20 years of growing food on 50 acres and living in the country, I have a little retirement fantasy of moving to a culturally-rich big city and living in a tiny house or apartment. But the fantasy falls flat when I think how limited I would be in my gardening endeavors. I can’t imagine living where I could not grow at least some of my food (and hopefully flowers too). Andrea’s book sounds like it might re-awaken my fantasy!

  10. I need this book because I have already ordered seeds, cleaned my seed starting area and read all the gardening books I got for Christmas and we will have snow until April at least. And I have been reading Heavy Petal for a long time.

  11. Yikes! I wandered away to visit her website and almost forgot to come back!
    This is the second great blog I’ve found through you guys (Hunter Gardener Angler Cook being the other)in just the past few months. Again, I find myself wondering how I never managed to come across that site before?!
    I’d sure love to win this book….my fingers are crossed!

  12. I don’t remember how I knew about this book but it is in my Amazon wish list along with Michele’s book and the new Rick Darke book, both of which I learned about at Garden Rant. I use the wish list to remember what I want. Haha I guess that’s what a wish list is!
    I think you should give the book to Diana. She needs some hope!

  13. I’ve been thinking about growing more than just pretty things. I like the idea of books by authors from my region. Regional advice is more likely to be accurate for where I live.

  14. This is my year of getting real about the vegie plot. Fortify the ramparts against the legions of plunderers. They have not been willing to share and so now neither am I. Buy a truckload of manure and use it all. Get out the canning jars.

  15. Garden Rant has me inspired to grow my own fruits and veggies, but it’s neither affordable nor practical for me to live somewhere with a lot of space. I’d love to learn about gardening on my apartment balcony! 🙂

  16. Wait, you mean this snow won’t last forever? There will be green shoots poking through warm earth once more?

    Hard to believe while looking out from my windows.

  17. Gosh, I was reading Heavy Petal before I even found Garden Rant. Andrea still teaches me things I don’t know!

  18. Thank you so much for the fantastic review and very kind words, Susan! You know you’ve hit the big time when you’re featured on Garden Rant: awesome It’s been great growing up in the blogosphere with you 🙂

  19. Congratulations to Andrea, it looks like a wonderful book, & thank you for introducing her to us–now I have to check out Heavy Petal. (Love the name.) And, I dunno–but to me thoughtful gardening & world peace are surely connected!

  20. Wow – I live in a small space but a new one with potential for edible landscape…so of course i NEED and DESIRE this book:)
    Deborah, garden columnist Indianapolis Woman magazine SIGHHHHH

  21. I just discovered Heavy Petal and Andrea this week due to our frigid temperatures and cabin fever——LOVE her!

  22. I’ve been reading Garden Rant for some time now and enjoy it a great deal! I haven’t yet read Heavy Petal but will certainly check it out now. I too write a gardening blog and aspire to write a book. Andrea has proven to be a good inspiration for both. I’d love to read her book!

  23. I would love to get a copy of this book. I went to the blog ‘Heavy Petal’ – what a great name – and I already learned something.
    I’m going to try to plant zuchini in containers. Maybe that way I can hide them from the squash vine borers that have found my garden.

  24. I’m new to gardening and I appreciate the straight forward, non-precious way Andrea talks about gardening. I started growing my own food last spring and I made my own garden markers. I just opened an etsy shop if anyone wants to see them ( Thanks for all the good info!

  25. Love how realistic everyone is here! It always surprises me how some of my customers who grow their own food are so snooty…I always think, “You know that’s dung, right?” We all need some moments of clarity these days.

    Keep up the good work!

  26. Oh, I have always loved Heavy Petal! It’s the only west coast gardening blog that I have found, and I just went from a huge garden to a teeny tiny one, so I would love this book!

  27. Hey! I want to do that, too! Be creative… have another pregnancy (or give birth to a garden blog)…. have dreams that come true! All the best to you, Andrea! Thanks for the inspiration!

  28. Thanks for this site and all the recommendations of new gardening sites to visit. I can now garden electronically during the winter months. More garden addictions, more garden stuff to buy, more to plant. This spring sleep will be highly overrated. Good thing I picked up a head flashlight Saturday so i will be able to garden in the dark.

  29. Thanks for letting us know about this blog (looooooooove the name!) and this cool new book. I’m with the others who have expressed that yearning for spring that only the deepest darkest January days can bring on.

  30. I definitely need every bit of perspective I can get on food gardening in the Pacific Northwest – I would love to have this book!

  31. Am i too late…we have been helping people cover their gardens for one our rare freezes here in Houston! I love GR…it makes me feel connected when I am here alone with my computer working on designs. This book looks like one i need to put on my wish list. I am taking a 10 week class in urban vegetable gardening this spring…i am so excited!

  32. I think I should get this book because I have a 9 year old daughter who gardens with me and 2 of her favorite things to grow (and eat) are Snap Peas and Strawberries! I’ll have to run out and buy the book anyway, I think.

  33. I recently started a vegetable garden without guidance other than what I can glean here and there. This is one of the reasons I have found Garden Rant. I have sort of learned by doing. Some successes and some failures. But, they have all been mine. I would soak in the information in Andrea’s book and it just might help me not make my next mistake…till further down the road!

    P.S. Keep up the good work!

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