Review: Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere

To complement the Kumquat tree that I bought my husband for his birthday, I also bought the book Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere by Laurelynn G. Martin and Byron E. Martin.  True to form, however, I ended up reading the book and just giving him the highlights.  The book itself is by Storey Publishing – a name I tend to trust – and is 160 pgs.  It is a quick read that I finished cover-to-cover in just a few hours and is broken down into five parts plus an introduction, glossary and resource guide.

Introduction: Enjoying an Indoor Edible Oasis

Part 1: Citrus Fruits

Australian Finger Lime
Calamondin Orange
Citron
Citrumelo
Grapefruit
Kumquat
Lemon
Lime
Myrtle-Leaf Orange
Orange
Sunquat
Sweet Lemon
Tahitian Orange
Tangerine
Temple Orange

Part 2: The Rest of the Tropical Fruit Basket

Acerola
Australian Beach Cherry
Avocado
Banana
Dragon Fruit
Dwarf Pomegranate
Fig
Guava
June Plum
Miracle Berry
Naranjilla
Noni
Olive
Orangeberry
Papaya
Passion Fruit
Peanut Butter Fruit
Pineapple
Pineapple GuavaRose Apple
Sapodilla
Star Fruit
Tree Tomato

Part 3: Coffee, Tea and Chocolate

Chocolate
Coffee
Tea
Yerba Mate

Part 4: Sugar and Spices

Black Pepper
Cinnamon
Sugarcane
Vanilla

Part 5: Plant Care

Getting Started from the Bottom Up
Maintaining Your Plants
Propagation
Pests and Diseases
Troubleshooting Guide

Each entry contains multiple color drawings and photographs on glossy 9 1/2 X 9 1/2 paper.  The entries are very uniform in structure making it simple to find whatever information I need quickly and easily.  Each plant sports a two-page spread where you will find the following:

Basic introductory information
Varieties appropriate for containers
Plant Particulars such as size and form, bloom season, fruiting season, family and origin.
Growing requirements such as light, soil, minimum indoor temperature and outdoor hardiness zone.
Fertilizing and pruning information.
and
Potential problems related to pests, foliar diseases and root diseases
Many fruits also include recipes for use.

As an inspiration, I really enjoyed this book.  I discovered a citrus plant that will actually grow outdoors in my Zone 7 yard and found many others that I would love to try my hand at growing in containers.  The layout is perfect for perusing and the information is basic enough that I am able to quickly determine which plants would be worth my time and effort to try.  I particularly loved the pictures and the color drawings of how each plant would look in the home.  I wish, however, that they had included size-comparison diagrams for each plant.  Yes, I can see that the plant will go in a pot – that is what each of the color drawings looks like.  However, what I would have preferred to see would have actually been pictures of the scale of the mature plant in relation to the rest of my home.

While there was a lot I enjoyed about this book, I really don’t think the authors quite deliver what the title promises.  The truth is that many of these plants need far more than a sunny window, water and fertilizer, which is what the authors imply.  Many, in fact, require consistently high heat and light or a lot of space before they will even consider fruiting.  I expected much more in the way of personal growing experiences as well as, at least a rudimentary introduction to artificially heating and lighting tropical plants indoors if one so chooses.  I was also a bit disappointed that there was no “further reading” section.  Because this is very much an inspirational book that gives only the bare minimum of care instructions, I would have at least expected a list of resources where I could find more detailed information.

Pros

Eye candy
Great inspiration
Basic information is neat and well organized in order to find information quickly and easily
The authors advocate a strictly organic approach to disease and pest infestations.
Photos show both pictures of the fruit but also includes color drawings of how the plant would look in your home.

Cons

No information whatsoever on artificial heating and lighting
Very little in the way of anecdotal information
No “further reading” section
No size comparison between individual plants and the average living room setting

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    You couldnt be more on the money

  2. 2

    find pdf said,

    Some intriguing post

  3. 3

    Exceptionally well written post..


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