Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener: How to Create Unique Vegetables & Flowers (Anglais) Broché – 4 avril 2013
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I recently learned of this book and since I still had some birthday gift-cards burning holes in my wallet, I had to find out what it had to offer. I particularly wanted to compare it with Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's & Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding & Seed Saving by Carol Deppe, a book that changed my life. I think the comparison of the two books is very relevant since they largely cover the same topic, how anyone can breed plants for their own use and enjoyment in their own backyards. I've owned "Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener" for two days and have just finished it. After reading it, I have to say that this is a good book, but Deppe's book is by comparison a GREAT book. Both books have their strengths and both are absolutely worth reading, but this is the lesser, lighter of the two.
What I suspect Mr. Tychonievich was trying to do with this book was make plant breeding accessible to any gardener without intimidating them with high-falutin' language. He does this by trying to simplify plant breeding and genetics into common language and using a many analogies rather than resorting to scientific or genetic jargon. This is a valid approach, and he makes the point several times that you can be a plant breeder without knowing anything about genetics. History is on his side, every major crop species ever domesticated was done so by people that almost certainly couldn't read.
The problem with his approach is that he has to bend over backwards many times to avoid using any "technical language" that might frighten readers away. This is most apparent in chapter 4 "Genetics Made Easy; and Why it Matters". He starts out comparing genes to cookie recipes, which is a fine analogy. Then he jumps quickly to a brief mention of Gregor Mendel and his classic pea heredity experiments, then back to the cookies. Then we get another analogy about the children a Japanese person and a Swede might create, then Border Collies, then back to the cookies again. All those clever analogies and he still can't explain basic genetic principles without resorting to a few genetics words like heterozygous and homozygous. Some important scientific terms are very useful in explaining genetics because the words have precise meanings that analogies can only dance around. I feel this would be a better book if Mr. Tychonievich would USE more of the correct scientific jargon, define it clearly, and then apply those terms to clarify his points. Mr. Tychonievich has a degree in plant breeding and genetics, he KNOWS this stuff. It is clear that omitting the technical language was a deliberate choice, in my opinion he went to far and weakened the book's usefulness.
This book would be a great library book in the gardening section. An avid gardener might read it and become intrigued to begin some small plant breeding efforts. Once they get hooked on breeding their own plants however, this book is going to fail them because it lacks sufficient specific information to make it worth returning too. By comparison I refer back to Deppe's book constantly for a variety of information.
That isn't to say that this book doesn't have its strong points in comparison to Deppe's. One of them is it's broader scope. Mr. Tychonievich doesn't limit himself to food crops the way Ms. Deppe does. There is a strong emphasis on ornamental plants, particularly flowers, which is totally lacking in Ms. Deppe's work. In chapter 7 where he gives specific examples of plant breeding with different plants, he covers far more ornamentals than food species. A gardener who is mainly interested in flowers and ornamental plants may find this very compelling.
I hope that after reading this review I have not given anyone the impression that I dislike this book. I think it is a good book, but that it could be much better. I also feel that Mr. Tychonievich is a great writer and clearly loves plants and plant breeding. I encourage him to keep writing, and when the time comes to revise this book, to do so with more boldness. Anyone who loves plants enough to want to breed them and make them better will not be afraid of a few big words. Expand this book, complete with more concrete details and examples. Tell us about the results of the many and various breeding projects that have only been mentioned in passing in this version.
As I said, even if you don't have a garden nor have room for one (mine is maybe 900 sq ft at best and I still have room to breed, the book tells you how if you don't have fields available to you), you will at least see how easy it would be for agribusiness to produce a variety of flavorful fruit & vegetables if consumers demanded it - if you don't know, you won't demand. Now you know.
Note: for the record, Kim Rupert is a Southern GENTLEMAN, not a "she" as stated in the book and has bred some really fine new cultivars that merit planting in more gardens and landscapes.
I stumbled across Joseph's writing when he began posting a garden blog. He was still in university, at the time, pursuing a post-graduate program. I was impressed how he created posts in an effortless and entertaining manner. On his site, he used words as a cartoonist uses pen and ink to insert his thoughts and feelings into the imagination of his readers. For a scientist, that is a remarkable and enviable talent.
I felt his enthusiasm for plant breeding and was inspired by his vibrant approach to both gardening and life itself. His deceptively simple yet original use of language allows readers to feel his pulse and share in the adrenaline racing through his body.
In short, Joseph is a natural born communicator who leaves his readers smiling. His enthusiasm for all things botanical is palpable in almost everything he writes. He has an original voice and uses it effectively. With simple words to create powerful imagery, he has created an endearing style of writing that reveals a warm, joy-filled personality. His followers can't help but grow fond of him even if they have never met him in person.
From the moment he appeared online, Joseph attracted the eager attention of gardeners, bloggers, writers, and horticultural professionals. He brings a smile to the faces of his fans and so moves those who have met him that some wish he were part of their family. Joseph is a reminder that if one chooses a career out of passion, every day can be a celebration of life.
Joseph is a talented scientist and communicator. Very few garden writers touch people's hearts as deeply and effectively as he does. That is why his book deserves our attention.