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The Edible Container Garden: Growing Fresh Food in Small Spaces Paperback – March 30, 2000
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It wouldn't matter whether or not a single strawberry or tomato raised in the pots pictured in this book ever made it to the table--they are beautiful ornamental plantings, worth growing just for their looks. But author and British permaculture expert Michael Guerra promises fresh-tasting, pesticide-free produce, and the chance to grow a luscious array of fruits and vegetables not available at the supermarket, all in small raised beds, pots, or window boxes. Whether you garden on the balcony of a condominium, the deck of a houseboat, or just choose to pack your garden with ornamentals rather than edibles, this book brings hope that you can easily harvest homegrown food, including herbs and edible flowers.
"Gardening is like learning to cook," writes Guerra. "Start with the basics and with practice your menu will increase." He starts out with clear instructions about the basics of raised bed construction, soil enrichment, and maintenance of edibles. The most useful and unique parts of the book are the chapters entitled "What Shall I Grow?" that suggest the best varieties of salad greens, berries, peas, and peppers, as well as a great many more, for smaller gardens. Enlivened by color photographs and featuring detailed lists to aid in plant choices, this is a fine introduction to urban food gardening on even the smallest property. --Valerie Easton
About the Author
An expert in ecological design, Michael Guerra is a consulting editor to Permaculture Magazine and a regular contributor to Resurgence and many other environmental publications. He lives in England.
Top customer reviews
However, it has less detail on specific plants and basic gardening skills like pruning and fertilizing. And the construction sections assume a certain level of knowledge that many readers may lack.
It's a good idea book, but should be supplemented with another that gives more detailed instruction on the business of actually growing plants.
A fact of life in an urban area is compacted soil. The typical urban homesteader is unlikely to own a rototiller that can be used to plow the yard and create a friendly habitat for a few fennel plants (although these tools are becoming smaller every day). Guerra's photographs and text describe projects that finesse hard surfaces. I especially like the partitioned timber container filled with many herbs standing above a graveled path. He also shows a raised bed with a most interesting set of joined corners using eyelet screws. The hardest surface of all to "farm" is a rooftop, but several photos show just what can be done with containers on top of a building. The corn and beans growing at the edge of one roof with a street full of cars below make me wonder how any insects could ever find and destroy this produce.
Guerra suggests gardeners can recycle materials and employ permaculture principles in urban settings. One permaculture trick involves stacking and arranging plants in a canopied effect. Guerra includes a number of photos showing various structures one might build to grow plants vertically thereby maximizing the use of space while conserving water. At the back of his book he includes photos of his own urban lot where he uses every square inch above and below to grow food-bearing as well as flowering plants.
Guerra's book is a great place to start if you've been thinking about creating your own little Victory Garden and wondered what might be possible. You will need more information than this book provides, since he does not include much about plants so check out KITCHEN GARDENS IN CONTAINERS by Antony Atha.
Most of the book is about making a container garden in a home with a small yard. It only had a very brief two page section about container gardening on a deck or balcony.
The information it does have is very poorly organized and jumbled. Trying to find specific information is very frustrating.
The photos in this book are beautiful, and if you're looking for a book of beautiful photos this book may be appealing to you. If you're actually trying to grow a container garden, I would suggest this useful book instead :McGee & Stuckey's Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers It's the only book on container gardening that you'll ever need.