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on December 31, 2012
If you're an experienced gardener, you're probably accustomed to thinking about your spring garden throughout the winter months. But if you're new to gardening, like I am, it's probably been the furthest thing from your mind. In either case, Chris McLaughlin's latest book release, Vertical Vegetable Gardening, is sure to become a favorite resource for anyone who is planning their next garden.

As a Master Gardener, McLaughlin has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. Her vested interest in gardeners as well as gardens is evident in her writing as she conveys, "the whole point of gardening is to grow things, and a gardener's personal growth is perhaps the most important." McLaughlin's insights and enthusiasm shared in Vertical Vegetable Gardening left me feeling excited and confident to begin my gardening adventure.

This book surprised me in a couple of ways. First of all, I was naively uncertain that "vertical gardening" was the first topic I wanted to read about gardening. I thought I had so much more to learn about gardening basics first. What I discovered, however, is that I wouldn't want to begin gardening without the information provided in Vertical Vegetable Gardening. McLaughlin aptly describes the advantages of vertical gardening and includes valuable information on preparing garden beds and composting; various garden structures and containers; the basics of soil and seed; how to tend the garden; amendments and pest control; and which fruits, herbs and vegetables enjoy "growing up."

The second surprise for me was how so much gardening information could be included in such a short and easy read. McLaughlin's work is so organized and easy to digest that it makes a complex subject (to me) seem easy and manageable. She peppers the pages with helpful "Good to Know" and "Downer" sidebars, photos and illustrations. With a thorough glossary, resource pages, and index, Vertical Vegetable Gardening is not merely a book; it is a gardening manual.

Even though I'm an inexperienced gardener, I've read enough magazine articles and blogs to realize that McLaughlin offers some creative and innovative ideas for gardening. A real eye-opener for me was her section on "The Magic of Microclimates." I've looked at Growing Zone Maps most of my life. (I have done my share of planting flowers and shrubs.) I always thought those zones were sort of set in stone, but McLaughlin explains how "no one else's climate is exactly like yours--even if it's in your own neighborhood." She gives suggestions for how you can manipulate your microclimates and maybe gain a longer growing season and include some plants that you previously thought you couldn't grow in "your zone."

I can't say enough good things about Chris McLaughlin's Vertical Vegetable Gardening. I'm so glad I read it; it will continue to be a reference for my gardening projects; and I would recommend it as a must-read to any and all gardeners.

Update: Months after reading this book, and having developed my first vegetable garden, I uploaded a video to show how great my vertical garden turned out following McLaughlin's directions. A picture's worth a thousand words!

[...]
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on December 31, 2012
Homesteading is becoming a popular thing these days and we too are trying our hand at being more self sufficient. We raise a few hens in our backyard for the eggs, we have tapped our maple trees to make our own syrup and every spring we plant a garden. Alas, we are not very good gardeners. Our first year was mildly successful, but since then it has been a few zucchini, a few carrots, maybe a tomato or two. We blamed the soil, weather and even the pesky rabbits, but I now know, WE were to blame. How do I know we are to blame? Because I just read Vertical Vegetable Gardening by Chris McLaughlin!

Every spring my son and I would put seed to soil and hope. Hope is not enough! Knowledge is the key to gardening and in Chris's book we gained a ton of practical knowledge that I know will lead to success. She covers the topics of soil and composting. She explains the "good" and "bad" insects. And best of all, in my opinion, is chapter 7 A Plant Primer, where she discusses warm and cold season vegetables. How was I to know carrots didn't like full on sun and hot weather!?!? With just this one chapter I will be better prepared on what to plant and when.

No longer will I run to the store and willy nilly buy packets of seeds only to plant them and have my garden end in disappointment! I now have the knowledge to prepare my soil, make my own compost and yes, plant the RIGHT things at the right time with the right about of sun. But Vertical Vegetable Gardening is more then just a basic how to on gardening, it explores the amazing world of growing up instead of out.

We live on just ¼ acre and our backyard must function in many ways and can not be taken up simply by a garden. Thanks to Chris, it doesn't have to be. Her book contains wonderful ideas on gardening structures and containers. Who says your whole garden needs to be in just one place?!?! I learned different areas of my yard (depending on sun light and temperature) are better for different crops. And with the handy DIY and repurposing ideas, we are planning to bring gardening to a few different areas of our yard.

There is also information on "espalier." Which I learned is a pruning technique for fruit trees. When we first moved into our home there was an old, tall, unhealthy apple tree we had to remove. The idea that we could once again grow apples without loosing a large section of yard has me very excited! And not just apples, but other fruit trees as well.

I am very excited to put up a hanging gutter garden. I can't wait to use the "Caveman Sun Blueprint" technique to decide where to build a cinder block herb area. My six year old son even thumbed through the book and can't wait to grow potatoes in a garbage bag. Honestly for the first time I feel like we are prepared to put in a garden and not just buy seeds and hope. I highly recommend you grab a copy of Vertical Vegetable Gardening. You will see gardening in a whole new way!
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on January 1, 2013
This book is full of easy-to-understand instructions and ideas for growing upwards, growing smart, and growing well. The writing style is fun and down to earth (pun intended.)

Vertical Vegetable Gardening has heaps of information on composting, and McLaughlin even refers to it as an "art." I always wanted to be an artist, but never imagined my medium would be dirt. I have a garden plot where I've been struggling with poor soil and invasive grass. McLaughlin's recipe for "Compost Sandwiches' will be a fun and simple fix for both issues.

Her chapter on 'Creative Repurposing' has inspired me to use eight, 3 foot long planters that were destined for a yard sale, as a perfect boundary for my Compost Sandwiches. But I will need more easy-to-construct borders, which will be made from cinder blocks, as explained in the chapter entitled, 'Make Your Own bed.'

I'll be referring to this book over and over throughout the year and beyond!
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on March 24, 2013
The book is well written and I was loving it until Chris started recommending Monsanto owned varieties. That's just nails on chalkboard for me. How can anyone in the gardening community recommend anything owned or promoted by Monsanto?

If not for that, I would have given it five.
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on December 31, 2012
Chris McLaughlin does a fantastic job of breaking down all the necessary information you need to start growing your vegetables in a vertical direction. Love all of her basic gardening tips and suggestions for ways to repurpose items, objects, etc into planters. Get one copy for yourself and one as a gift!
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on December 31, 2012
This little book has really outdone itself. Chris McLaughlin, in a completely charming and unassuming way, has schooled me on my small-space gardening methods. Though she is a Master gardener, she keeps it simple for those of us with thumbs that may or may not be green, depending on which light you are standing in. Speaking of which, the 'Caveman Sun Blueprint' has really, seriously changed my life and how I will attack my garden-planning this spring. Her easy-to-construct, space-challenged, vertical gardening techniques are also definitely going to be implemented in that same plan of attack, as I live on a frustratingly tight, suburban lot. I could go on and on, because I took away so many little nuggets of wisdom and innovation that my copy of the book is sporting a full petticoat of Post-it note annotations. In a nutshell, I highly, highly recommend this book!
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on April 1, 2013
Overall, this has got to be my favorite gardening book to-date (and I have read a TON). The wealth of information that is categorized and summarized in an easy-to-read format makes this book highly valuable to me. I can turn to this book for just about everything related to my garden. There is also a list of resources for seeds/plants, online help and books in the back that I am still referring to often.

I really liked the structure of this book; it is broken down into four parts for ease of reading and reference. Part one discusses "The Beauty and Bounty of Vertical Gardening." The author begins by explaining the benefits behind growing vertically and how "Less Really Is More!" This section shows you how much space you can save, how growing vertically can save you time and work as well as money. There is also information on how this method reduces weeds, pests and disease. Perhaps best of all, you will increase your vegetable production by learning how to grow vertically! The remainder of Part 1 discusses different structures and containers with how-to tips along the way. There is information within this section about DIY structures as well as how to Re purpose items for your vertical gardening. I have to say that since I have read this book, I am using more re purposed items and think more about reusing rather than just purchasing something new (and perhaps wasting money).

Part Two is titled; "The Basics: Soil and Seed." This section contains all the information you need to learn about why soil is so important in your garden, what type of soil you have and how to improve it, as well as how to start seeds. There was a great section here about the many different types of seeds and even how to go from starting your own to transplanting them. Very condensed but well organized and summarized information.

The last two sections discuss the nitty-gritty of gardening with your vertical vegetables. There is so much information here! From Organic pest control to a fact-filled section on all of the vegetables that like to grow vertically, I can tell that these sections will be ones that I reference often (there's already dirt and coffee stains all over it and the gardening season hasn't officially begun)!

I am literally growing 90% of my food vertically this year thanks to the inspiration from this book; saving time, money and growing more food as a result. Fantastic find and must have if you want to grow more food in less space (and not be confused or frustrated while doing it)!
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on March 30, 2013
I have learned so much about how to use the small space I have for the maximum benefit of my family. And I am learning new ways to grow vegetables I never thought about growing vertically. Remember to check out companion plants to best use your growing area. And you can make your own vertical structures to save money and if you design them so they can fold up you can store them for next year's use as well.
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on December 31, 2012
I highly recommend Vertical Vegetable Gardening to the beginning gardener--you'll learn how to build a garden from the soil up. For the more advanced gardener--Chris McLaughlin offers suggestions, tips and new ideas, and for other Master Gardeners--there's always something new to be learned. No longer will I see a garden as a flat space to be filled---McLaughlin, a Master Gardner herself, shows that the possibilities for growing up as well as out are nearly endless. Chris McLaughlin's casual style of writing, peppered (pun intended) with bursts of delightful humor gives her well-researched newest book a prime spot on my bookshelf. It should be on yours, as well.
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on January 8, 2013
Vertical Vegetable Gardening - what can I say, other than - I wish Chris McLaughlin had published this book 3 years ago! I've been struggling with gardening in a small location... now, I have everything I need for this spring! I'm so ready to start planting!!!
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