Customer Reviews: Greenhouse Gardener's Companion, Revised: Growing Food & Flowers in Your Greenhouse or Sunspace
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on June 5, 2004
This is really a reference book. I can't imagine anyone reading it cover to cover. For me, the first 90 pages on green house design and operation were exactly what I needed. In the middle, there are 170 pages of commentary, organized by plant, in which the author makes witty and pointed comments on the utility of growing the specific plant in a green house. For example, on Avocados, he writes: "Before you get excited about homegrown guacamole fresh from your greenhouse, I need to tell you that avocados are difficult to get to produce fruit in a greenhouse." On banana, he states: "Bananas are worth growing solely for the tropical look they bring to a sunspace, and you can also get a harvest from your banana."
Throughout the other 200 pages, Smith offers guidance (and opinions) on just about everything you might want to know regarding green house gardening. For example, he has his own favorite composting technique and cannot get excited about hydroponics. He is excited about manual pollination techniques, though. He likes to have fun in his greenhouse, and his enthusiasm is contagious.
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on September 29, 2000
I have a lot of greenhouse books- the Ortho greenhouse book and the "Expert Greenhouse" book and others. This book is by far the best. I bought the first release and then upgraded to the (2000) "revised edition." What a pleasant surprise! It covers all the bases from setting up your greenhouse to growing specific crops. Now I'm eating fresh salads and home grown greenhouse tomatoes. If you want to too- get this book! It even explains organic - chemical free pest controls!
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on August 28, 2000
This is the most comprehensive text on greenhouse growing that I have found to date. If you're like me and want to build/buy a greenhouse, this is the book for you. It covers construction (kits or homemade) in excellent detail. It isn't a construction "how to" just gives you everything you need to know about the nuances of a greenhouse. It then goes into even further detail on how to operate it. I also found these sections very useful in learning how I want to build the greenhouse itself.
It is very well written and easy to read, including some injected humor. It's a big book and will answer most any question the fledgling greenhouse grower could imagine.
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on April 20, 2001
I love this book and am having such fun reading it. Shane Smith shares himself in such a way that although I've never met the man, I now think of him as a friend! His writing style is easy going and often very funny and personal and the information he imparts is useful, and obviously comes from years of real experience. Running even a hobby greenhouse can be expensive with all the gadgets, yet he gives good and practical advice for those who don't necessarily have the means to buy the biggest and best of everything the manufactures would like to sell you! He tells you what you really need to have and know, and what's just "fluff." I would recommend that anyone with a hobby greenhouse invest in this book.
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on September 16, 2007
Actually the title says it all. I wish I had time to read lots of books
about greenhouse gardening but I don't. An experienced gardener, I'm new to greenhouse gardening and struck gold when I bought this book. It isn't dumbed down and is fast and fun to read.

The book doesn't begin at square one but does explain the important differences between gardening in an outside
garden and a greenhouse. One example; the reason fans are needed during the day (while photo synthesis is taking place) is to prevent a CO2 deficient envelope from surrounding the leaves. Also, explaination of
how to pollinate in an environment with no birds or insects is helpful.
Varieties of vegetables and flowers are discussed and why certain ones are
better suited. Trouble shooting and "when things go wrong" chapters are
good. Also, I learned more than I thought was possible about light and the different qualities of light plants need. Again, advice on when a
less expensive alternative will work was very welcome.

I'm so happy I bought this book BEFORE our greenhouse is complete because
the chapters on design and environment have given me a master plan for the space we have. Also, throughout the book are money saving ideas and
words of warning from experience. This author knows his subject inside out, is very good at communicating and doesn't use 100 words when 50 will do. Buy the book-you won't be disappointed!
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on May 12, 2000
This book is like having a good neighbor with a greenhouse or mentor always at your disposal. I really liked how the glazings (what covers the structure)are explained and the new developments in technology that are now available. Benefits and drawbacks of each type of glazing are explored. Great examples about getting the maximum use out of greenhouse space (both in how/what to grow and simple tricks-of-the-trade that only comes with a lot of experience. The information is presented in a detailed but easy to understand manner and is very well organized. You gain experience of the pitfalls other people have gone through like which types of wood preservatives kill plants, without loosing the money. There are good sections on propagation, veggies, flowers (including basic orchid culture) natural insect controls, pruning for best production, etc. I liked all the Appendices expecially all the greehouse supply sources with toll free numbers and web sites all listed. This is a very updated book with lots of goodies. You can tell that the author is someone who really "walks the walk".
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on August 25, 2007
This book is an absolute MUST for any Northern gardener!

Before I start raving about the different indispensible topics covered in this book, I will also mention that in the spring of 2006 I also bought "Gardening in Your Greenhouse, by Mark Freeman".

I`ve waited a year - virtually two growing seasons - and I'm ready to give my review(s). This is my first and only review so far on this site.

A year ago this spring, I had just ordered my 6 ml. polyethylene steel frame greenhouse & I read Freeman's book first. I was so discouraged I almost cancelled the order. When you live in Northeastern Vermont, the climate is jokingly referred to as "10 months of winter & 2 months bad skiing" (zone 4/sometimes 3 depending on the year). The whole point of having a greenhouse is to extend the seasons but Freeman's view on this subject seems to be; "Don't bother! When it gets cold it gets cold and unless you want to spend a fortune, you'll just have to live with it."(Not a direct quote but that's the gist you get from his book).

"The Greenhouse Gardener's Companion" on the other hand gives you all the tools you need to beat back the elements and enjoy the fruits of your labor when everything outside that flimsy sheet of plastic has long since died.

Shane Smith goes into extensive detail on how to build "Thermal Mass" in your greenhouse - the natural, non-electric heat sinks that will keep your greenhouse warm; barrels of water, jugs of water, brick, stone, gravel, etc. He also tells you exactly how to calculate just how much water (or other materials) you'll need to keep your greenhouse above acceptable growing temperatures using the square footage and the thickness of the glazing and of course your growing zone. He also gives spectacular examples of his research; sub-zero conditions and the actual temperatures inside greenhouses using appropriate thermal mass; e.g. a solar greenhouse in Wyoming on a night with -30F temps. with a 15mph wind & the temp inside the greenhouse at 32F heated only by thermal mass.

In the summer there's the opposite problem - how to keep the greenhouse cool. Smith describes the science of airflow & how to calculate the size and position of your lower and upper air vents to naturally siphon the heat through the space and create a natural cooling system (without fans!).

Unfortunately, I had set up my greenhouse before I read Smith's book, or I would have done a lot of things differently (at that point I had only read Freeman's book and was working on dogged determination and not much else). If I had read the "Greenhouse Gardener's Companion" I would have also put insulation around my 3-foot deep gravel base for instance. I had installed 6 vents near the bottom, which didn't seem to do anything to disperse the heat - but once I put in new vents according to Smith's calculations, the greenhouse virtually cooled itself. I do run one household fan near the upper vent but today I forgot; the outside temperature was 85F & the greenhouse temperature was only 92F. Need I say more!

Smith's book also covers all the essentials of greenhouse gardening including the unique problems of pollinating in a closed space and recommends self-pollinating varieties & other tricks to get things growing robustly. One of the other reviewers has suggested that no one would actually read this cover to cover, well I did, and it was a worthwhile read.

But the proof is in the pudding isn't it? In my zone, planting frost tender plants isn't recommended until the first or second week of June, with frost still possible. Well, I had almost all my seedlings in flats in my greenhouse by late April (this being my first spring I held back a little - I did keep my frost tender seedlings inside). On the other end of the scale, last fall we had tomatoes from the greenhouse in late October, and salad greens in November. This year I've added more thermal mass so who knows?

My conclusion: if you're a gardener who wants to keep growing when the nay sayers say you can't - buy The Greenhouse Gardener's Companion.
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on April 20, 1999
I built a greenhouse last summer. Without this book I would still be struggling to get things right. Whenever I was confused or frustrated, this book was there to help out. If you are considering a greenhouse, GET THIS BOOK. If you already own a greenhouse, GET THIS BOOK. Everything you could want to know is covered. It is amusing and written in plain old garden speak. You will recognise in the author, a fellow gardener with dirty fingernails, just like yours!!!
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on January 16, 2000
I found Shane Smith's book very, very helpful. I have just started gardening in my greenhouse and use his book as my greenhouse gardening bible. It is an excellent guide to all aspects of greenhouse gardening. I've followed his methods for seed starting, polinating and propagating as well as watering, moisture control, soil mixes and more. I started tomatoes by seed in October and now in January have tons (well, almmost) of green fruit on leafy, luxurious plants. And I live in northern Idaho!
Shane does repeat himself many times for which I am thankful. I need repetition in order to remember a little of what I am reading/studying. How else would one remember tomato mosaic disease suffered by tomatoes and pepper at the hands of smokers or that by overwatering you can suffocate your plant's roots and kill them. Did you know that plants benefit from carbon dioxide; a substance lacking in the greenhouse? Thank you for repetition, Shane!
This is a must-have guide for greenhouse/cold frame, sunroom gardeners. Oh yes, don't forget to peak at his photo in the back. You'll get a sense for the man's character!
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Last year I didn't even know anyone who owned a greenhouse and now I have a successful one. This is so much fun! I have Romaine lettuce, spinach, onions and garlic as well as an assortment of tomatoes and squash, and it's January! It was so nice to go into my greenhouse during the record-breaking Oklahoma Christmas Day Blizzard of 2009 and visit my vegetables, who took it in stride.

One think I love about this book is, it handles the problem I am facing TODAY. I just look in the index and find what I need. Before I installed the greenhouse, I learned what I needed to know (I hoped). Lots of information about the materials and how to select the right ones for your greenhouse. I learned about lighting, air circulation, and heating.

When I was ready to start growing from seeds, I found what I needed to know, everything from ordering, sowing, etc. I learned about greenhouse thermometers, heaters, and fans. Amazingly, almost all of my seeds sprouted and now the plants are growing. When my squash bloomed and needed artificial pollination, in January when there were no bees handy, I looked in the index and even found pictures of how to pollinate squash, exactly what I needed. Now my hand-pollinated squash and cucumbers have edible fruit.

I particularly benefited from the light and temperature requirements, specific for each plant variety. I found out which ones required more light, and I place them in the greenhouse accordingly.

This is a very handy book. It won't be one I will lend to others or give away. This one is a keeper!
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