292 of 294 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2002
Finally, here's a book on container gardening that focuses on vegetables (and also herbs, fruits and edible flowers). I was tired of looking through tons and tons of books on container gardening that were full of stuff about houseplants and flowers but had zilch when it came to the edible stuff. Was vegetable gardening out of bounds for apartment dwellers like me? I thought so till I came across this book. This book is a godsend for people who want kitchen gardens of their own but who can only garden with containers.
The book has no photos, only illustrations (but then again, who needs another coffee table kind of book with pretty pictures and little content) but it has lots of good advice and instructions. It starts off with the basics (container types, soil, fertilizing, pests etc.), then it moves on to a hefty section each on vegetables, herbs, fruits and edible flowers. Each section has a number of entries with detailed instructions on the particular veggie/herb/fruit/flower in question. These include stuff like planting, fertilizing, soil depth, plant size, light requirements and so on. Interspersed throughout the book are interesting projects, for example, creating a garden for children or a kitchen garden with an asian/italian/greek theme. All in all, this book is extremely useful and a real treasure.
169 of 170 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2003
When I started growing a vegetable garden in containers on my balcony, I looked to several books for guidance. Bountiful Container was the most helpful.
Boutniful Container addresses garden basics such as equipment and fertilizer, but the bulk of the book is specific information on a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruit, and edible flowers. Each plant is addressed for several pages, with information such as when to plant, sun and water requirements, general care, and varieties suitable for containers.
One unique feature of this book is that they actually address container depth for every plant listed. I was amazed at how few container gardening books spent any significant time on container selection. For instance, I learned that salad burnet, a small plant, requires a deeper container than many larger plants in order to allow its taproot to develop (lo and behold, I was able to grow it for a change!). It disusses the advantages and disadvantages of several container materials, and addresses issues such as reducing the weight of oversized containers.
One frustration I had with other container gardening books, was that they assumed you had at least a small yard in which to plant and much of their information was useless for people who were limited to containers. Not a problem with this book.
Bountiful Container is beautifully written, and the information is well organized and easy to reference. I highly recommend it.
139 of 141 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2002
The Bountiful Container is simply a delight -- with it on my bookshelf, I now have the courage to move beyond my tiny pots of basil and jalapenos to the exciting world of zucchini and sugar-snap peas. The detailed discussion of specific plants is invaluable (now I know why my tomato plant did so poorly last year); general commentary on soil additives and the differences between plot and container gardening are informative without being overwhelming. Moreover, the text is interspersed with design projects that are as appealing to the eye as they will be to the stomach. This book is ideal for the casual container gardener who is more concerned with produce than Latin plant names.
87 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2006
This book is wonderful! I spent hours last Feb at various bookstores, going thru gardening books, trying to find one about container gardening that didnt spend all of its pages showing pretty containers and discussing the ornamentals you could plant in them. I want to grow food and spend my money on the plants, not the pots. With the help of this book I grew a tomato and pepper this past spring and now I have beets, radishes, spinach, peas, beans, carrots and lettuce in for the fall and everything is looking lovely in their cheapo terra colored plastic pots from Home Depot and growing like crazy! They take a neutral view on organic/conventional and provide instructions for both methods, there aren't lots of pictures but sooo much information. It's not a pour miracle gro on everything and it will be healthy book at all, they give you real tips specific to each plant, (ie: peppers like sulfur so put a book of cardboard matches in the pot) and everything is very easy to find and very dummy proof, no agriculture degree needed. I once killed an aloe vera plant and now I'm growing rosemary!
72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2003
Most of the book(300 pages worth) is spent covering each type of plant, spending 2-6 pages on each. I liked all the specifics on sowing/transplants, care and harvesting. As a beginner I felt much better equipped with the information I found here than in other sources. Instead of generic "plant 4-6 weeks after last frost", they discuss day and night temperatures, something I can measure by putting my digital thermometer outside. And the fact that it focuses on growing just edibles and only in containers is very valuable.
Recipes and suggested groupings are scattered throughout. The lack of photos didn't bother me, since I know what I eat looks like--and that one of the points of the book--grow what you can/will eat. Diagrams and good simple explanations make things very clear.
They don't mention broccoli or cauliflower--perhaps they just consider it not good for containers although other mustards are in the book. But i doubt any one book to be all encompassing and complete. I also have Square Foot Gardening which gave me another set of timing and spacing information for edibles.
(update) Five years later I still use it as a reference when having problems with a variety or starting the season. I find this is still a bible for the plants it covers, even though I've moved onto planting in the ground. One of the greatest finds in the book is their recommendation of liquid seaweed fertilizer. This has become the magic fix & helper on plants. I've rescued sick plants and consistently have healthy gardens and potted plants. I use it at seeding and on seedlings, full grown, flowered and fruited plants without concern. It is a foliar as well as in-ground fertilizer. It simply helps plants to be healthier. And that lets them fight off disease and produce well.
116 of 124 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2011
The basic gardening information in this book is top-quality, but the container combo suggestions are no.
I bought this book a year ago when I was beginning my second year as a container gardener. The first year, I had no idea what I was doing, but now in my third year I am becoming pretty savvy. When I first read this book I loved it and even recommended it in my reviews of other books, but now I seriously question whether the authors ever attempted their container suggestions in real life, because most do not work, and those that do look hideous--if you want anything harvest-able.
Knowing what I know now, I would say that this book is ok, but be prepared for the combination suggestions to not work, and take them all with a grain of salt (I actually believe this is why there are no photographs--I doubt that any of the suggested containers every really existed, the authors probably just guessed at what they thought would work and look good). Easy Container Combos: Vegetables & Flowers (Pamela Crawford's Container Gardening) is actually a better choice, because the author actually tried combinations and photographed the results -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Combine Ms. Crawford's book with Burpee : The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener : A Guide to Growing Your Garden Organically and you will have everything you need to have a great container garden (BTW: the Burpee Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener is the best gardening book I have found--if you can only afford one, that is the one to get).
For what it's worth, in my experience, the key to successful, beautiful vegetable containers is to combine low-maintenance flowers with one, single high maintenance vegetable or fruit (low maintenance is low water and low food needs--marigolds and nasturtium are perfect examples; high maintenance is high water and food needs--tomatoes and pumpkins are perfect examples). Combining two or more high maintenance vegetables as this book recomends frequently (tomatoes with peppers etc.) in the same container results in stunted, unproductive plants--which makes sense, they both need the resources in massives amounts, amounts which are very difficult to provide even to single plants in such small spaces, let alone to two or more.
Also, contrary to their assertions, you can successfully and easily grow full size watermelons, cantaloupes, pumpkins, and bulbing onions in containers--they don't even need very large pots, they just need a lot of heat, sun, water, and food. The only way to provide them with sufficient food, in my experience, is through foliavar feeding, such as Spray-N-Grow SNG32 Micronutrient, 32-Ounce combined with Spray-N-Grow BILL8 Bill's Perfect 6-11-5 Liquid Fertilizer, 8-Ounce and Spray-N-Grow COCO8 Coco Wet Organic Wetting Agent, 8-Ounce(this trio, which is used together, is wonderful and cost effective--they are sold as concentrates, and you only need a tiny amount for each weekly feeding; plus they come with excellent instructions, which is rare).
Instead of buying the Bountiful Container, just take 1 rose obelsik, 1 full size whiskey barrel, 1 hybrid tomato (the heirlooms are too iffy to waste your time with), 2 pole beans, 2 snap peas, and about 5 fordhook trailing nasturtiums. Directly sow 1 tomato seed in the center of the obelisk, 1 pea or bean seed at the base of each of the obelisks upright's, and the nasturtiums seeds around the edge of the barrel, and you will have a beautiful pot and a giant tomato that produces lots of huge fruits (the key is that the only heavy feeder and water-lover in the container is the tomato, its greed protects the others, who prefer poorer soil and less water). Oh, and be sure to only buy seed varieties that are resistant to as many diseases as possible, it saves you from heartbreak and keeps the chemicals to a minimum (still I have found that if you want to grow any member of the cucumber family in a warm, humid climate, like mine, you have to use fungicides and pesticides, but with resistant varieties, you can get more mileage from fewer, less frequent sprayings).
for those that have found this review unhelpful, i'd love to know why, for future reviews.
also, for those that love this book, did you successfully grow wee be little pumpkins with carrots and radishes in a 12 inch pot as suggested? if so, how did you harvest the radishes and carrots, given that pumpkins hate to have their fairly shallow roots disturbed (pumpkins only have 6 inch roots--they are like cukes in that regard)? what about the sunflowers and bean combination, given that sunflowers kill beans, and the fact that sunflowers still need a large spacing even with the dwarf varieties, unless you want the flowers to be the size of a quarter? did you successfully combine cucumbers and tomatoes in one 24 inch pot as suggested? if so, how did you provide enough water? also, how did you provide enough sun, so that the cukes were completely shaded by the tomatoes? how many fruits did you get each?
45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2007
There's an endless list of titles devoted to container gardening, but it turns out that not many are useful for growing vegetables. I borrowed several from the library, including Bountiful Container, and this is the only one I found useful. It's a valuable reference tool, so I'll be getting my own copy.
I have never gardened before; my parents and grandparents had gardens as I grew up, which convinced me that I don't have the patience to go out and dig a big plot, then spend hours weeding it. In addition, we live in a condo with a small yard, so containers seemed to be the way to go, if only I could figure out how to successfully coax veggies from a container. Still, nobody I knew had really done this, so I found the book invaluable.
A lot of it may be old news to experienced gardeners, but as a beginner, it was extremely helpful to read what conditions each type of plant liked. There are some notes on design, as well as some great suggestions for themed gardens - I particularly liked the idea of attracting hummingbirds with a vibrant red garden. The book is well organized, with several pages devoted to the planting, care, and harvesting of each plant.
I knocked the book down 1 star because I think a few things should really be added. First, some color photos or illustrations. A previous reviewer mentioned that the illustrations are charming but lacking, and I agree. Second, further information about crops that can be planted twice - I know several cool weather plants can be put in for both spring and fall, which the book also mentions. The book walks through the spring planting, but then doesn't discuss the timing of the fall planting. If I have limited space for growing veggies, I really want to plant as much as I can in cycles, and it'd be helpful to have that information! Finally, some sort of chart that groups together plants which like the same conditions would be an extremely helpful addition to this book. You can get by with notes, but a chart would be a great reference tool.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2006
If you're only going to buy one book on container gardening, make it this one. The writers are very experienced gardeners who write in a very accessible, matter-of-fact tone. They cover everything from preparing the soil, starting from seed to buying transplants and arranging the plants.
They also recommend specific species of plants that are well-suited to containers and provide secrets to growing these plants successfully, i.e. each plant has its own special needs, none of which are unusual. There's an extensive section on herbs (each herb gets its own mini chapter) and popular vegetables and fruits. Best of all, it makes container gardening seem like a very enjoyable hobby. I was very inspired by the writers and have successfully started herbs and squash from seed. Before that, I had killed just about every transplant flower or herb I've ever bought.
For inspiration, buy a coffee table type book of glossy photos of container gardens. For instructive, specific how-tos on the basics of container gardening, buy this book. You'll use it time and time again.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2003
This most readable book was written for "everyone who aspires to have garden-fresh foodstuffs but has no yard in which to grow them". This is a detailed book about growing herbs and vegetables in containers - there is a chapter each on fruits and edible flowers too. Both writers are experienced growers and standard growing information is not only tailored to container growing, but is supplemented by the experience of two down to earth women who have been there and done that.
Sensibly organized, the book starts with planning a container garden and moves on to basic information such as the tools you'll need and the pros and cons of different types of containers. But most of the book tells you how to get the best crop from a great long list of vegetables and herbs There are chapters on growing fruit and edible flowers in containers and a decent list of mail order sources for seeds and plants.
I liked the direct, no-nonsense approach of the two writers. They have produced a thorough and thoughtful book, sensibly organized and both readable and knowledgeable.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
THE BOUNTIFUL CONTAINER is indeed a bountiful book. The two authors Rose Marie Nichols and Maggie Stuckly, pictured on the cover, look exactly like the friendly neighbors who know all sorts of things you want to know about tackling this subject. Nichols is a horticulturist who owns a nursery selling specialty seeds who is also the author of a book on herb cookery. Stuckley is a gardener who has written a few books including one on houseplants.
Nichols and Stuckley have written a gem of a book. My parrots like cilantro. As it costs a couple of dollars a bunch per week, I decided to grow the stuff in containers and save some money. I searched high and low for information about growing cilantro and could find nothing satisfactory until I found this book. First of all, the book tells me that it's best to grow cilantro from seed because it forms a taproot that may be broken in transplanting. Second, the book tells me cilantro gives two harvests because the seeds are called coriander. You may know coriander is the lovely spice in Christmas cookies. The plant does well in the cooler parts of the season (spring and fall) but the leafy growth may occur in cooler climates with staggered planting. If I want to, I can bring the plant indoors as long as it receives plenty of sun every day.
Nichols and Stuckly share many useful thoughts about various plants. For example, you might grow your lavender plants in pots near the door so visitors can brush up against them when they arrive and leave. Or perhaps you might grow curly marjoram along the edge of a container planted with catnip. The catnip will stand tall, while the marjoram trails over the edges. The colors and textures of the two plants will complement each other. The two authors have suggestions about formulating your own tea from various herbs, stuffing squash blossoms with tomato sauce, and creating a pasta with summer vegetables. Don't miss this little book, it's filled with good ideas for the creative homemaker.