Author Colaboration Can Lead to Lifelong Friendship

Both times I’ve collaborated on books with other writers, I’ve reaped the rewards of not only a good experience, but I’ve developed nice friendships as well. As a matter of fact, my friendship with my first co-author, Sharon Whatley of The Strawberry Story: How to Grow Great Berries in Southern Calfiornia, has blossomed over the years into a very close friendship. We’ve been through many of life’s ups and downs together, and I really think that part of the reason we became so close was due to the experience of “birthing” a book together.

When you collaborate, pretenses soon fall by the wayside. You might be a little cautious at first with how you communicate, but before long you’re showing the real you. That’s due to the fact that writing is hard work. It takes diligence, patience and repitiion, as well as checking and rechecking. And just when you think you’ve got everything done and it’s all in order, it’s time to make another change. When the co-authorship is a good one, you grin and do what has to be done.

Fairy Garden Book Cover-5          TheStrawberryStoryebookecover

Of course, one of the good points of having a co-author is splitting the work and you each being able to work to your strengths. For my second collaboration, which lead to the bestseller Fairy Gardening, the design of the gardens falls to my co-author, Beverly Turner, who truly is the “Fairy Godmother of Fairy Gardening.” She created the first fairy gardens 13 years ago when she decided that she wanted a dollhouse as an adult. The gardens she made soon dwarfed the dollhouses, and she found herself making real-life miniature gardens that morphed into fairy gardens.

Of course, I wouldn’t have found out about Beverly’s adult dollhouses or Sharon’s penchant for strawberry jam if we hadn’t created books together. While I’m glad to have written two fabulous books, I’m also glad to have gotten to know both of these talented women.

The Strawberry Story: How to Grow Great Berries in the Northeast is Out!

Written specifically for the Northeast climate, this definitive guide to growing sweet, juicy strawberries reveals the secrets to a prolific berry harvest every year. Learn about the best strawberry varieties for the Northeast climate and even how to extend the strawberry season into fall. Chock full of up-to-date information, including organic growing principles, this book reveals how to get your strawberry patch to thrive season after season. Soil preparation, planting and maintenance are included, as well as an entire chapter on eco-friendly, non-toxic treatments for pests and diseases. The 94-page book includes photos, illustrations, resources and recipes to enjoy the fruits of your labor.


Says David Handley, vegetable and small fruit specialist for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension about the book: “The Strawberry Story is not only a solid, practical guide on growing these fruit in the Northeast, it is also a highly enjoyable read for anyone who has ever wondered where these marvelous berries come from and how they became such a popular treat. I highly recommend it for any gardener’s e-reader.”

Book Available on Amazon in e-book format!

Buy Seascape Strawberry!!

Enjoy a long harvest of strawberries and even year-round production in Southern California by growing the Seascape strawberry, which you can find by clicking here.

The Strawberry Story: How to Grow Great Berries in the Northeast

After lots of research and writing, the next version in The Strawberry Story series is just about out! The Northeast edition is set to appear on Amazon on March 19th. Who would have known how different it is to grow strawberries from one coast to the next. If you’ve ever had difficulty harvesting big, juicy strawberries in your Northeast garden or getting your plants to thrive season after season, this book will clear up all confusion.

It turns out that the varieties you grow and the methods you choose for your area make a BIG difference. There is no one-size-fits all method for all strawberry growing climates. Even the nomenclature is different. Did you know, for instance, that bareroot strawberry plants in the west are known as dormant crowns in the Northeast? Grab your Kindle version of The Strawberry Story: How to Grow Great Berries in the Northeast next week. Also look for free download days, as well as the opportunity to win free plants!


Strawberries in Wintertime and Anytime

The Preface of The Strawberry Story: How to Grow Great Berries Year-Round in Southern California describes how it’s not only possible, but downright delicious, to grow strawberries throughout the year in So Cal.

When I wrote the first edition of this book in 1993 with my co-author Sharon Whatley, I had no idea the staying power of the topic. I knew that I loved strawberries since childhood, and that few things are as sweet and satisfying as homegrown berries. I soon discovered that I’m definitely not alone.

Since its publication, The Strawberry Story has sold more than 5,000 copies, and I’ve spoken to hundreds of audiences about how to grow big, juicy berries right in your own backyard. Over the years since the first publication, I’ve experimented with new varieties on the market, as well as growing strawberries in containers and organically. I’ve found great varieties that make harvesting strawberries year-round possible, and in this book I share those types and how to grow them pesticide-free in any garden.

Strawberry in pot

I am not shy about my fondness for one strawberry in particular—Seascape. On many occasions, no matter the season, I can go out and pick at least a small handful of these big, tasty berries. One of my favorite Seascape harvests of all time occurred on a Christmas morning several years ago.

The kids sat poised to pounce on the presents under the tree while I went into the kitchen to get my morning tea. As I waited for the water to boil, something red and inviting in the courtyard caught my eye. Could it be? Stepping outside into the clear, crisp sunshine, I spied ripe berries in my pot of Seascape. Breakfast! Pinching the tasty delicacies from the plant, I popped one after another of the five berries into my mouth, savoring the juicy goodness of my own present. When the kids called from the living room asking what was taking so long, I cried back with a full mouth, “Stay in there, or you won’t be opening anything!”

Of course, growing strawberries is also a great gardening activity to enjoy with kids, and my children have definitely had their share of fresh, homegrown berries.

My hope is that this book will help you grow and enjoy your own sweet strawberries on Christmas morning and throughout the year.

The Birth of a Book–And a Series

Books that fill a definite need by removing a vacuum in a subject area tend to resonate. And that’s exactly what happened with The Strawberry Story series. Back in 1993, the original book for Southern California was conceived when two strawberry-loving gardeners/authors realized that no book on growing them in the mild So Cal climate existed.

“The fact that there weren’t any other books on growing strawberries in Southern California wouldn’t have been all that strange if it wasn’t for the fact that 85 percent of strawberries grown in the U.S. are grown in California,” says the book’s co-author Julie Bawden-Davis.

“While conducting research on how to successfully grow strawberries in Southern California’s mild climate, Sharon Whatley and I were surprised to find that most of the information on the subject was written for other areas of the country,” says Bawden-Davis, who is also a public speaker. “The lack of information didn’t help us figure out how to grow strawberries in our own backyards, so we decided to write a book on the subject.”

Since that first printing of the groundbreaking book—which sold more than 5,000 copies—Bawden-Davis has shared with thousands of Southern California home gardeners how easy it is to grow strawberries year-round in their backyards.

In 2012, Bawden-Davis realized that gardeners in other areas of the country would be equally as interested in growing tasty berries in the home garden, so she decided to launch The Strawberry Story series. The result is the upcoming Spring 2014 release of two new books in the series, including The Strawberry Story: How to Grow Great Berries in the East, which will be released in March 2014.

“The response to the Southern California version has been phenomenal, so it seemed like a logical next step to cover the rest of the country through a series of books,” says Bawden-Davis. “There are books out there offering general blanket information on how to grow strawberries and even berries, but the fact is that climates vary greatly when it comes to growing berries,” she says. “There are definite varieties that should be grown in each area of the country. Knowing the right varieties to grow in your climate is critical to success.”

The Strawberry Story series fills a definite void in the market by telling readers exactly how to grow delicious homegrown berries in their particular regions.

Book Signing!

Meet the author and get a signed copy of the newly revised The Strawberry Story: How to Grow Great Berries Year-Round in Southern California. Julie will give a short presentation on growing strawberries year-round, and she’ll have year-round strawberries for sale.

Read all about the presentation in the Thursday, July 11th edition of the Orange County Register.

Where: Old Towne Orange Farmer’s & Artisans Market

When: Saturday, July 13th 10:30-11:15 am


The Newly Revised Strawberry Story is Out!

With more than 5,000 copies sold, this second edition of, The Strawberry Story: How to Grow Great Berries Year-Round in Southern California, shows novice and pro gardeners alike how to grow sweet, juicy strawberries throughout the year in Southern California. Learn the best types for growing in the Southland, how to create the perfect environment and how to plant, care for and propagate these tasty fruits. A chapter is dedicated to battling pests and diseases. You’ll also learn the best ways to harvest and store strawberries, and recipes give you a delicious way to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Says Curtis Gaines, UC Davis Innovation Access – Strawberry Field Representative about the book:

From my perspective working with California commercial strawberry growers and nurseries, this book is a great resource for the home gardener. The Strawberry Story is a beautiful and simple book that will show Southern California sun-loving gardeners how to grow, harvest and preserve healthy and tasty berries.

Available on Amazon in print and e-book formats!

For an autographed copy of The Strawberry Story, send a check for $14 to, PO Box 224, Orange, CA 92856.