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Grow the Good Life: Why a Vegetable Garden Will Make You Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise Hardcover – February 15, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Not only does Owens make an utterly convincing case––in terms of health––for getting out your shovel and creating a vegetable garden, her enthusiasm for the sheer fun of the endeavor is bound to win you over.” ―Ruth Kassinger, author of Paradise Under Glass

“Michele Owens is truly the most eloquent, cosmopolitan, and opinionated garden writer since Katharine White. In Grow the Good Life, she makes a passionate and compelling case for returning vegetable gardening to its rightful place in the day-to-day lives of every American family. It is a witty, entertaining, and highly persuasive read.” ―Amy Stewart, author of Wicked Plants

About the Author

Michele Owens is a cofounder of Garden Rant, one of the most popular and influential gardening blogs. Her articles about gardening have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine and Organic Gardening. She lives in Saratoga Springs and Salem, NY.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605295892
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605295893
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,819,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Carol J. Michel on February 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Half-way through this book, you'll be looking outside at whatever plot of land you have, be it containers on a deck, a small urban yard, an expansive suburban sprawl, or acreage in the country and if you don't already have a vegetable garden, you'll be planning where you'll put yours. Or if you already consider yourself a vegetable gardener, you'll be more excited than usual to go out and plant again.

This is not your typical "how to" book on vegetable gardening. You'll find no lists of what to grow, when to plant, when to harvest. Instead, Owens mixes in her own personal experience of growing vegetables with information from various studies to provide a compelling case for the vegetable garden. She helps us all understand not only why we want to grow vegetables, but also how easy it can be to do so and how doing so nourishes us in many ways. Read it to gain the confidence to grab a shovel and start your own garden. Or read it to be re-inspired if you already grow vegetables.
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Format: Hardcover
If you're thinking about planting a kitchen garden this spring, do yourself a favor and read this terrific how-to cover to cover first. Owens takes a radically refreshing approach to gardening that is sure to inspire both seasoned gardeners and newbies.

Grow The Good Life is a fast, fun read, but with all the great tips and insights it contains, delivered in Owens' witty, down-to-earth voice, it deserves to become a classic. If ever a book could compel folks to get off the sofa, go offline and head outdoors, this is the one.

And boy, do we need some prodding to get us growing more of our own produce! Owens starts off with a thoughtful exploration of why so few of us bother to plant vegetable gardens--currently, less than 2 percent of Americans grow any of our own food--and then makes an eloquent, convincing case for why we ought to give it a try.

If you think gardening is too much hard work, or takes up too much time, or means you have to run out and buy a bunch of specialty tools and strange chemicals, think again. Owens explains that the key to successful gardening is to cultivate a healthy soil that will give you healthy plants--and she explains how easy it is to do that through the simple no-till method of gardening known as sheet mulching or lasagna gardening.

It's no coincidence that Rodale Books is the publisher of Grow The Good Life. After all, "healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy people" was the mantra of J.I. Rodale, the organic farm and garden visionary who launched the Rodale publishing empire back in 1942. He also established the non-profit 'test farm' that has been on the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture and is now known as the Rodale Institute, located in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.
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Format: Hardcover
There are a lot of books about gardening out there. Books that tell you how to grow things, why you must grow things in a particular way, what to grow, what diseases will ravish your garden, etc. This isn't really one of those books. Instead, this is a book by a person in love with their garden who wants to share the happiness that gardening can bring with the reader.

Sure, there's information on good and bad gardening practices (very well-researched - I was one of those called upon to offer critiques on the scientific portions of the book - critiques which were taken to heart and applied by the author). But the soul of this book is how enriching gardening can be to your life and the lives of those around you. This is offered by way of personal experiences expertly mixed with scientific information and current events to produce an easy to read and highly informative text. The writing is infectious and you'll soon find yourself turning pages to find out more about garden coaches, soils, root cellars, and the food that you can produce on your own land. This is a fun read and, if I had a neighbor or relative who I wanted to inspire to get outdoors and do something, this is the gift I would give them (I'd give it to them around March or so that they'd be able to get right out there and garden!).

You'll leave this book wanting to dig your hands into the soil and grow something - and I think that's the most important and meaningful thing I can say about it. This is a work which will inspire you to get out there and grow something. And in the process you'll find yourself learning!

A great book for the experienced gardener, and an exceptional one for the newbie.
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Format: Hardcover
For much of the 1970s I belonged to the Rodale Press book club, receiving a book or two every month. Cook books, organic gardening books, books that preached about living an environmentally thoughtful life all helped form who I am as a gardener and a person. Fast forward...really? over 30 years?...and Michele has written the 2011 version of the best of those books. Although a wonderful book for the beginning gardener, who will find support and encouragement in Grow the Good Life, I found myself starting to plot changes to my garden and gardening as well. Compelling, well supported reasons for gardening ranging from flavor to health to financial to children are laid out in an easy to follow comfortable format that brought back those feelings from the 70s when anything seemed possible and having the best wasn't even that difficult. But now those feelings are enhanced by research showing some soil bacteria to be mood enhancers and further research that explains the scientific reasons freshly harvested foods taste better than those that are stored and shipped.

Although there are some how-to aspects of the book, especially in the laying out of the garden and mulching sections, this is more of a why-to book. Maybe even a why-ever-not book. Although Michele has an enviable-sized space for her own garden, the information here will translate to any garden size and in fact much of the book encourages starting small, slow, and easy. From the neophyte gardener to those of us who have a fair number of harvests to our name, this book will make those flames of gardening zeal grow and grow until they begin to grow the good life in your own life right there in your own garden.
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