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How to Grow More Vegetables, Ninth Edition: (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land with Less Water Than You Can Imagine Revised Edition
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"Possibly the most detailed explanation of the intensive gardening method available."
—New York Times
"John's methods are nothing short of miraculous."
—Alice Waters, author, Slow Food crusader, and founder of Chez Panisse
"There are two kinds of vegetable gardeners--those who garden in beds of some kind and for whom this is the ultimate foundation book, a must-read, and an essential reference. Then there are those who don't garden in beds, for whom it's still a must-read and an essential reference. The full title...actually understates the contents. The book is about how to grow pretty nearly all your food and your garden's fertilizer on a modest amount of land."
—Carol Deppe, author of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times
—Alan Chadwick, master horticulturist
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.34 pounds
- Paperback : 264 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0399579184
- ISBN-13 : 978-0399579189
- Dimensions : 8.46 x 0.82 x 10.8 inches
- Publisher : Ten Speed Press; Revised edition (July 25, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #41,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Concerning the Kindle edition: one of the biggest draws of this book is the "Master Charts" section in the back. Because these charts are designed as images, they do not appear properly on the Kindle, nor even on the Kindle for PC app. The text is far too small and there is little way (outside of doing some relatively obnoxious technical work) to make the charts highly legible. I would STRONGLY suggest buying the paperback version instead, until the Kindle version is fixed.
This book is a great beginning guide to planting and mini-farming. The "Grow Biointensive" method is quite good and has worked well for my large garden for years. One of the best aspects of this book is the "Master Charts" section, which describes various details about countless plants and vegetables. It's a fantastic resource, one I use over and over again.
The downsides of the book are as follows:
1. There is far too much wasted space on the "Grow Biointensive" method and what reads like a massive sales/advertising pitch. This pitch is relegated not merely to the introduction, which would be fine; instead, it is sprinkled throughout the entire book, often showing up in later chapters and essentially wasting the reader's time. The book would be FAR better if the "Grow Biointensive" environmentalism statements were all kept in the introduction, and if the chapters themselves were designed to showcase just the need-to-know information about how to follow the farming method.
2. Delving into the method further, as I have for the past years, highlights many big questions and unclear statements within this book. For example, take the case of a dwarf fruit tree, which according to the Master Charters, requires 64 square feet of space. A typical Grow Biointensive bed is 5 foot by 20 foot or longer. Also, plants are arranged into a bed in hexagonal spacing. The question then becomes, what is the best way to plant such a fruit tree? Well, who knows. Is the farmer supposed to double-dig essentially a MASSIVE bed in a giant hexagonal shape with a single fruit tree in the center? Is the fruit tree fine within a 5x20 bed?
There are many other sections which require clarification like this, far too many to mention, in fact; here are just a couple more. When rotating crops, it's unclear if the "Grass" family "counts" for rotation purposes or not. (In an email to Ecology Action a year or so ago, I was told that the "Grass" family was an exception to the regular rotation rules, and that this would be clarified in the at-the-time upcoming ninth edition. As far as I can tell, it is not clarified here.) Another issue is compost; the book spends much time discussing various compost pile practices, but does not thoroughly discuss other composting methods that are popular now (such as hugelkultur and burying a mixture of green/brown materials straight into the garden beds, or thorough mulching as in the "Back to Eden" or lasagna gardening systems). It would be great to know how these alternative methods to composting compare in efficacy and efficiency to the Grow Biointensive compost piles.
Overall, there is solid information in here, especially for a new gardener. However, too little has changed in this 9th edition to warrant recommending its purchase to anyone who already owns the previous edition(s).
It is a strange little book, which appears to have been written by committee. One of the major conceits is that it is possible to grow all of a person’s food requirements on about 4000 square feet of very specifically prepared ground. The assumption is that quite a few of those calories are coming from home grown wheat, and that we will use the straw from the wheat to build compost piles to improve the soil. The voice is a little strange- I think the book started as pamphlets, which were then compiled. I am not sure who the intended audience is. If you are a very beginning gardener, this might not be your best choice of book.
There are many pages of charts, which make the book worth it to me. The charts have planting spaces, time to maturity, and many other facts about many garden plants. I’m glad I have it back in my library.
One other problem I have is that there is a chapter heading for seed saving, which I would think would be very important to a self-sustaining garden. As far as I can tell nothing at all is mentioned about seed saving in the book, however, which was pretty disappointing. Finally, pests, which are my number one problem in the garden, aren't really addressed at all. For example, gophers, which would kill anything in a bed in my yard without hardware cloth underneath (definitely not 36" deep), get a brief few sentences stating they are easily deterred by dead gophers and/or smelly things. I've never tried to put a dead gopher in a gopher hole but I can tell you they would destroy any unprotected bed created under this methodology. Aphids, another major pest, are apparently to be fully deterred by repelling plants (ha ha ha). This book is great if you have tons of space and absolutely perfect garden soil...and you somehow have tons of material and extra soil for compost.
Side note: also very few citations: eg states beets and pole beans should not be grown together (good to know) but no source or other info. Charts are the best part if you spend the time to decipher them.
Top reviews from other countries
The 'Master Charts' are in important part of this book, but are not really suitable for an amateur gardener in the UK. Also. these chart are unreadable on most kindle devices. You would need to buy the paperback version. The book claims to be based on many years of research, but there is a hint of old wives tales and black magic about some of the ideas, methods and techniques for vegetable growing. In short, as a UK allotment holder, I find this book very odd, - and in places incomprehensible.