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One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square Paperback – February 16, 2010


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One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square + All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space + Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The Experiment (February 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615190120
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615190126
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 7.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Australian gardener Houbein has a personal and intimate understanding of food security, having survived famine during the Nazi occupation in Holland. In this charming but meandering book, she warns of the dangers of globalized, corporate agribusiness and aims to put you in control of the production of at least part of the food you need. She claims that one square yard of garden will provide a 10th of a person's food needs and encourages everyone to start a magic square or two. The book provides basic gardening information and a wide variety of square-yard vegetable garden plans, from salad plots to curry and anticancer plots, with sections on fruit trees and chickens thrown in, but this is as much a compilation of Houbein's gardening life as a straightforward step-by-step how-to manual. Like an eccentric but wise great aunt, at turns whimsically practical (apart from spreading shredded bracken on beds to decay, use ferns as parasols for seedlings) and confusingly questionable (At this point in time, vast stretches of land are being poisoned by carbon dioxide smoke from brush and forest fires), Houbein offers much valuable advice, but the presentation is so disorganized that novice gardeners looking for a clear and simple way to get started may be flummoxed. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“The 30 'Magic Square' garden plots offer plenty of ideas, from a simple salad garden with a variety of lettuces, to gardens for soup, stir fry, root crops and more.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“So many gardening books feature plants' mile-long Latin names and confusing charts. Not this one. Its easy-to-follow instructions, diagrams, and photos inspire desire to grow good-for-the-body fresh produce from little yard space. A bonus: some delicious serving suggestions. One Magic Square tells you everything you need to get started and profiles each plant.”
The Virginian-Pilot

“Australian gardener Houbein has a personal and intimate understanding of food security, having survived famine during the Nazi occupation in Holland. She warns of the dangers of globalized, corporate agribusiness and 'aims to put you in control of the production of at least part of the food you need.'... The book provides basic gardening information and a wide variety of square-yard vegetable garden plans... [and is] as much a compilation of Houbein's gardening life as a straightforward step-by-step how-to manual. Like an eccentric but wise great aunt, at turns whimsically practical... Houbein offers much valuable advice.”
Publishers Weekly

One Magic Square . . . enchants on many levels. Veggie gardeners (especially rookies) will benefit from Houbein's knowledge, which is informed by science and folk wisdom, as well as the breadth of its content (growing information, 30 design plots, many recipes). This single line could sustain us for life: 'Never garden in a mood of wanting to control everything.'”
The Chicago Tribune

“From plot designs to starting seeds to composting, [One Magic Square] offers beginners a manageable way to get started with organic gardening. It also gives great advice on natural ways of keeping pests away, as well as useful vegetable groupings, even recipes.”
The Post-Star

“[Lolo Houbein] asserts that anyone can grow vegetables using only a plot about the size of one square yard. She offers good directions on what to put into compost, how often to turn it to speed the process, how to go about companion planting and intercropping, and how to pinch, thin, and prune plants to keep them in check . . . [and] includes plot plans for everything from cancer prevention and antioxidant plants to basic salad and soup ingredients, with instructions for where to plant what in each plot.”
Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Lolo Houbein’s magic garden squares are creative, international, and a fun way to learn the magic of growing your own food.”
Tanya Denckla, author of The Gardener’s A–Z Guide to Growing Organic Food

“This timely guide will assist first-time and experienced gardeners in taking control of their own food supply at a time of...increasing fuel and food prices. Food gardening is the most intelligent adult endeavor on earth—Lolo Houbein shows you how to do it, and why you should.”
EcoVoice (Australia)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I love this book - and I love gardening.
Linda L Sanderlin
With this inspiration and guidance, the first garden can be so fun and productive that you will never stop.
Lisa Hall
I picked up this book at my local Library.
mumzonline

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By mumzonline on March 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book at my local Library. Spring is here and I am always on the look out for a gardening book that is going to motivate me. I did my usual flip the book to the back, and began perusing backwards and came upon the chapter entitled "Hardware In the Food Garden". The first sentence reads "Those lovely pictures of vegetable gardens featuring colorful rows in beds and heaped black soil may be reality somewhere, but not in my climate and not always in gardens run on clean and green principles." Suddenly I wanted to know more. How often have I looked in books and magazines and felt intimidated by the ornate beauty and presentation of the designs. I have never been a confident gardener, but I have always wanted to take control of my own food supply . This book speaks to me on so many levels. It helps me design plots based on what my needs will be (salad plots, stir-fry plots, the herb plot, curry plot etc.). It tells me what I can plant, it lays it all out for me. It tells me how to prepare and maintain my garden without having to spend a fortune. It reads like a book that has been passed down from your favorite Grandmother who is sharing all her secrets with you. I will definitely be purchasing this book. It gets a huge organic green thumbs up from me.
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By reader on August 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My garden happens to be based entirely on multiple 3'x3' beds, so I was THRILLED to find a book whose entire premise is supposed to be gardening on 3'x3' units.

The book is authored by a lady who has survived a childhood in WWII Europe, and who advocates growing your own food. While I really liked the upbeat, sweet vibe of the text that reminded me of my childhood in my grandmother's garden, I found the book to be very unrealistic in it's claims.

I have been veg gardening for 20 years, using the biointensive method (which means: plants spaced as closely as possible, grown in raised beds, with very deeply worked, excellent quality soil), and I find that the book's bed layouts are completely useless and misleading. The author suggests such crowding of plants that it is preposterous to expect any harvest at all!

For example, in her pizza/pasta plot, the author crams not only 3 eggplants and 6 peppers into one 3'x3' square (which would already be very crowded), but also 3 tomatoes (!), 1 arugula, several red onions, one basil. In addition, all this is grown around a center filled with more onions, while chives are sprinkled around 3 of the peppers!

As I have mentioned, I have gardened for 20 years, and for at least part of this time, I have been using the 3'x3' layout. I have raised tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and all the other plants mentioned above, and believe me, they can't even begin to fit into one square, all at the same time. Typically, if the weather cooperates, and you have great soil, you can just barely fit 2 tomatoes into one of those beds, and if all the stars align, then maybe 1 pepper and 1 basil in addition. And that would be pushing it!
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Rachel on February 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You could probably use this book to garden for the next 10 years and not experience everything that she proposes. The instructions are easy, the index of fruits/veggies/trees in the back is indespensible, and the colored pictures are timely. Yes, the theme is of a magic square, but before you know it you'll have 4 or more going, without that much effort. I'm using this book to plan my garden in Bavaria and can't wait to companion plant some rosemary with our pear tree, or see the mustard plant take off.

She relies heavily on Blood & Bone and manure as fertilizers, and considering I own a Mini Cooper, that doesn't sound easy to acquire, so I'll probably just try it with some compost this year and see how the plants take to that.

Warning, the book is written from an Australian perspective, so when she says "north," you know she means "south" for the southern hemisphere. Also, she can plant through winter, and the weather where we are is below freezing for about 4 months out of the year. If you've gardened a little bit before and want to take things to the next level, this is for you.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Hall on February 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
I "won" this book in a drawing from the local newspaper here in North Carolina. I have now purchased two more copies for my "non-vegetable gardening" brothers in Oregon and Nevada. Not only are there step-by-step instructions, but the need for and love of planting your own food is expressed so touchingly and basically here.

With this inspiration and guidance, the first garden can be so fun and productive that you will never stop.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By daggeline on January 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
As I said in the title - a wonderful book!
You don't need to buy anything but some seeds and start growing veggies like salads on a 3-foot-suare.
Everyone, even a child can take care of such a small area. And so you will be tempted to make the next square, this one with some tomatoes or snow peas, and just another one with summer squash and beans and a few corn stalks...and so on.
Before you recognize it you're a veggie gardener with lots of your own homegrown veggies and it's a lot of fun.
Everyone seems to think that growing a veggie garden is lots and lots of back breaking hard work - the author proves that it can be easy and fun.
Just start small, one square at a time.

I love this book and wish it had been there 30 years earlier when I started gardening.
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