If you are a gardener just embarking upon the horticultural journey of growing vegetables or fruit in the Inland Northwest, this book is quite simply the best reference you can find. Tonie Jean Fitzgerald starts out with the basics that every gardener should know about the unique soils and climate of the region. Next she gets down to the specifics of planning and planting a vegetable garden, including how to raise transplants from seed and what varieties perform best in area gardens.

She follows up with a chapter on pest control from pesky insects to damaging diseases, providing sound advice on how to limit the use of pesticides in the garden. After vegetables comes backyard fruit production from berries to grapes, apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums, and apricots. She reveals the mystery of successfully growing these bearers of luscious treasure.

Fitzgerald should know quite a bit about gardening in the inland region. She has been a WSU Spokane County Cooperative Extension faculty member since 1985, providing educational programs to local gardeners and farmers. She credits her wealth of gardening knowledge to working with Master Gardener volunteers since 1979. That must be why the information is so down-to-earth and easy to understand.

This handy reference is not filled with glossy pictures, as are many gardening books; instead, it’s illustrated with delightfully artistic line drawings. It’s also packed with straightforward advice and handy tips. One useful tip, for example, helps gardeners ward off aching backs. When digging or hoeing, Fitzgerald recommends taking frequent “back breaks” by lying flat on the ground and bringing both knees up to your chest, stretching your lower back muscles. The easy-to-read charts and lists interspersed throughout the book are also very helpful. The book is a virtual step-by-step road map for both beginning and experienced gardeners of the region.

— Marianne Ophardt, WSU area extension faculty

Tonie Jean Fitzgerald
WSU Press
Pullman, WA
2001