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104 of 105 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be more self-reliant - grow lots of food in a small area
[Update: I read the book again; and I wish I had given it five stars rather than four. I cannot seem to edit the number of stars. But just pretend that I gave it five stars, OK? Thanks!]

'Fresh Food from Small Spaces' is an exciting book, an inspirational and informative book. Ruppenthal's main topics are container gardening, sprouting, fermenting, growing...
Published on October 25, 2008 by P. Meadows

versus
108 of 113 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really Disappointing
I ordered this book because it seemed well reviewed and the title is exactly what I have to deal with - square inches.

However, after getting it I have to say this was really a disappointment. To begin with, the book is not well-edited, and the same general observations on gardening are repeated in many different places throughout the book - it felt like the...
Published on November 15, 2009 by J. Caldwell


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104 of 105 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be more self-reliant - grow lots of food in a small area, October 25, 2008
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This review is from: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Paperback)
[Update: I read the book again; and I wish I had given it five stars rather than four. I cannot seem to edit the number of stars. But just pretend that I gave it five stars, OK? Thanks!]

'Fresh Food from Small Spaces' is an exciting book, an inspirational and informative book. Ruppenthal's main topics are container gardening, sprouting, fermenting, growing mushrooms, and small livestock (chickens and bees only), making compost and worm boxes. He lists and describes steps that anyone can take towards helping to build a more sustainable planet and living more lightly on the earth, as well as being more self-reliant.

I was very glad to see a short chapter on 'Survival During Resource Shortages' and one on 'Helping to Build a Sustainable Future'. The 'Introduction' also touches on these topics.

I was also glad to see that Ruppenthal recommends the use of Self-Watering Containers. I know from personal experience (and from being the listowner for a list devoted to Edible Container Gardening) that this is a very, very superior way to grow vegetables in containers.

What the book is *not*: it is definitely not a how-to book. It is *not* the only book you'll ever need about *any* of the topics that it covers. If you buy the book thinking that it is, you'll probably be disappointed. Instead, it gives an excellent general overview and introduction to some very disparate topics. It gives you ideas for things *you can actually do*. The author also points you towards more detailed sources of information on each topic. I doubt if anyone could have written a detailed instructional guide on all of these very different topics.

Major disappointment: the only illustrations are black-and-white stock photos. Some color photos - and more personal photos - would have been a great addition. This is really a very glaring lack. (Shame on you, Chelsea Green Publishers!)

Second major disappointment: no index. I would have expected an index in anything published by Chelsea Green, a quality publisher.

Major plus: The book is referenced, with endnotes. There is a list of resources as well.

I would definitely have given this book my unalloyed praise if it only had better photos and an index. I have no other criticisms. Ruppenthal writes well, too, by the way.

[...]
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108 of 113 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really Disappointing, November 15, 2009
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This review is from: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Paperback)
I ordered this book because it seemed well reviewed and the title is exactly what I have to deal with - square inches.

However, after getting it I have to say this was really a disappointment. To begin with, the book is not well-edited, and the same general observations on gardening are repeated in many different places throughout the book - it felt like the author had to fill space.

There were very broad chapters on how to keep chickens, bees, grow mushrooms, make your own kefir, etc. but without any sort of in-depth knowledge. Mostly, just a vague overview with references. There are good websites referenced throughout the book but overall, anyone with a little time and Google can probably do better to find the same information online, in far more detail.

I had been hoping for a true play-by-play breakdown of maximizing space and food production, but no luck. If you are looking for concise, informative, and practical tips, move on. If you have absolutely no idea how to garden, then maybe this would be a good starting point. But I'm still searching....
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on urban gardening and indoor food gardening to date!, December 17, 2008
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This review is from: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book - I have never read anything like it! I've had so many people ask me what to grow in apartments with low light, and I've always wondered what to say! Really, all I could think of was well, salad greens, maybe some herbs... I knew that lettuce loved the shade, but I never knew there were so many options for growing food in lower light levels and indoors!

This book is a nice introductory guide to a great number of topics - basic gardening, growing food in tight urban gardens, growing food indoors, growing mushrooms, fermenting to make kefir or yogurt, sprouting seeds for fresh sprouts, composting without much room, keeping chickens in a small yard, and even a chapter on keeping bees. All of it wonderful for the urban or apartment dweller.

This is really the first book of its kind that I have seen - it is so practical and talks specifically about how to make self-watering planters, and exactly which crops you can grow in what kind of light, and which plants you might be able to grow on a not-quite-so-sunny windowsill. Brilliant, really. It's obvious that Ruppenthal has been doing this for years and really knows his stuff.

What's so crazy is that several of my gardening friends who are now stuck in apartments have been wondering what would grow in their windows, or in containers on their window-access-only balcony. Now I know what to say! I've ordered some seeds to start experimenting myself, and this book is going to more than one person for Christmas!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A locavore's delight, August 18, 2009
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This review is from: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Paperback)
You can't get much more local than your patio, and urban gardening enthusiast Ruppenthal looks after your pennies like they were his own. This slim volume is jam-packed with space and money-saving organic ideas, from the eminently practical to the slightly over-the-top.

"A chicken coop or honeybee hive can fit on a sidewalk, a patch of lawn, or even a balcony...."

In no time he'll have you growing sprouts on top of the refrigerator, mushrooms under the sink and making yogurt on your countertop. And this is in addition to all those delicious tomatoes, fruit trees, berries, cukes and beans you'll be growing in containers, trellises, and terraced plantings in former flower beds.

Ruppenthal starts out with planning for your space, motivation, and light. He then delves deeply into soil mixes, making or adapting containers, seeds and transplants, fertilizer, timing, harvesting. Everything, in short, you need to get started. He doesn't hesitate to suggest other books he's found valuable and offers alternative ideas for gardeners of different skill levels, commitment and attitude.

His enthusiasm is infectious and often dryly amusing. The microwave, for instance, is a handy gardening tool. "If anyone else in your household might object to cooking sawdust in the kitchen, then you might want to try this step when no one else is at home." His sneaky, hidden compost pile is nothing short of ingenious.

Not just for the beginner, this quirky highly informative gardener's treat has ideas for every gardener, all of them direct from Ruppenthal's personal experience.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars most other reviewers seem to be right, April 14, 2009
By 
Joe Who'sit "readerman" (Pleasant Grove, UT USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Paperback)
It seems to me that all of the others who have reviewed this book are accurate, yes it covers a lot of different aspects of small space food production, but no, the topics are not covered deeply enough to make you proficient in any. I really liked this book because I have not read much about any of the topics covered, so it gave me a great overview of many different subjects I will be studying, and reading about over the coming months and years. If you are new to the topic of small space food production, like me, then you will do yourself a huge favor by reading this book. If you already know of the specific topics you are interested in then buy a book (or books) specific to your area of interest.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book literally changed my life., March 6, 2010
By 
J. Hanes "Gavagai" (Prague, Czech Republic) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Paperback)
This book really did change my life. I've been interested in producing my own food at home for many years and thought I never could because I live in an apartment in a cold city. A because of this book, I learned that I actually could. I started easy making yogurt first, then milk and water kefir, then sprouts and kimchi, and I'm also growing fruits, herbs, and other veggies according his recommendations and am about to start my mushroom farm. My wife won't let me have the chickens or the bees, but her parents live on a small farm, so we can get both of those. I've literally cut my grocery bill by at least a third, probably more and it doesn't take much work and I very much enjoy it. It took me a few weeks to get everything done right and I was a little afraid to try some of the fermented foods, but now I'm absolutely crazy about it. What better way to get super healthy, super cheap food and protect the environment and your health at the same time. I don't exaggerate when I say this book changed my life and I reread it constantly and have dived into the different topics more deeply. If you're into being relatively self-sufficient, want to start a new and pleasant hobby that pays back big dividends, want to eat healthy good tasting food, and save a good chunk of money to boot, you can't do better than living the recommendations found in this unique book. It's an invaluable source and if more people followed this lifestyle, we'd all be much better.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Using our small spaces!, March 20, 2009
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This review is from: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Paperback)
This book was a fantastic purchase for an apartment dweller like myself and offers many different ideas about how to grow your own food in small urban settings. Recommended for anybody looking to increase their sustainability/ healthy produce production in small ways (shelves in the laundry room? -- grow mushrooms. Top of the fridge? -- grow sprouts. Shady balcony? -- grow leafy greens.) This book offers explanations of not only what, but detailed descriptions of how to grow the food items you decide on. And it's fun to read.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No real coverage of indoor gardening, February 4, 2009
This review is from: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Paperback)
Perhaps I just misinterpreted what this book would cover, but I was disappointed at how little information was available on raising food year-round. The "year-round" really only refers to fermenting and sprouting. There is a page devoted to the work of Eliot Coleman who gardens in greenhouses outdoors in Maine, which really isn't small space gardening. There are passing references to growing peas and beans, herbs and small fruits indoors but no suggestions beyond setting them in a sunny windowsill (which really doesn't work for most of the country).
I was hoping for a detailed discussion of growing lettuce on a light stand, overwintering pepper plants, etc.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great for total newbies, February 4, 2010
By 
ilex (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Paperback)
but as an experienced small-space gardener and home food producer, I didn't learn anything new. It is nice that container gardening, fermenting, chickens, sprouting, and emergency food storage are all in one book, but each chapter offers only an overview. At the end he gives resources for further reading, but most resources he lists are books I already own. If you're completely new to small-scale home food production, it's a great, easy-to-read resource. But if you already know the topics, you probably don't need this book.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Utterly lacking diagrams & illustrations, November 16, 2010
This review is from: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Paperback)
When I saw this book at a local Green conference it caught my eye right away - hey, I'm an urban apartment dweller and journeyman gardener that would like to grow food for his family and this book should be right up my alley, right?

Complaint #1: my primary complaint above and beyond anything else would merit at least a star or two better rating from me if fixed, and that is the absolute and mind-boggling lack of illustrations. The author (an attorney, mind you) describes a few different systems for such things as DIY self-watering containers, sprouting setups, and composting systems; but instead of showing you 2 or 3 helpful schematics or even photos of each, he describes them at length over the course of several pages - yet the descriptions are *not* sufficient to build something from, and there are no pictures of them at all. It's almost as if he realized that the book would be too short if easily explained through pictures so he decided to "fluff" it out with pages of words where one illustration would suffice. The author makes a point in the preface of saying that he's either tried or seen firsthand all systems described in his book: if that's true, then you'd think showing us what the heck he's talking about wouldn't have been a big deal.

Complaint #2: misrepresentation/misunderstanding of hydroponic & aquaponic systems. He has a beef against hydroponics particularly due to [what he says is] its unreasonable energy footprint but omits the fact that A) not all hydroponic systems require electricity, B) those that do can be powered renewably and without pollution, C) that aquaponics is not beyond the realm of comprehension for the average person, but in fact something of a self-regulating system when done properly that requires as little maintenance as most small to medium sized gardens - and with the benefit of providing fish to eat and filtering water for other uses. Not only that; he chastises home hydroponics practitioners for using electricity to make food, and then a few chapters later goes on to recommend an electric sprouting machine. (!)

Complaint #3: as stated in many other reviews the coverage of some subjects is amazingly vague, such that I would hesitate to call this a guidebook so much as a kind of loose compendium of ideas on the subject of home food production. Considering the verbose detail he goes into in some sections it's a bit incongruous & disorienting to shift the editorial depth of focus from the very detailed to the very fuzzy. In tandem with #1 above this makes for maddening reading, where what you really want to know is mentioned and glossed over quickly, while things that are less compelling get detailed, legalistic blather for pages & pages.

Definitely a library or 2nd hand book at best.
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Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting
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