All New Square Foot Gardening, 3rd ed., by Mel Bartholomew (2018)

Nonfiction
Adult

All New Square Foot Gardening, 3rd edition, by Mel Bartholomew and the Square Foot Gardening Foundation

Gardening is one of those passions that develops in fits and starts – it germinates (sorry!) in a sunny backyard; loses momentum when your apartment balcony faces north; and emerges again when time and space permit. In our corner of British Columbia, the summer sun is long and hot; tomatoes and peppers are much easier to grow than lettuce, which tends to bolt. I’ve had a couple of successful seasons, but I’m ready to move the garden to a better spot. This gardening classic first published in 1981 makes the crucial point that vegetable garden boxes save water while generating more produce. It’s also organic, uses no fertilizer and once planted requires minimal weeding or other work. I’m in!

The snow is on the ground here, and we are already planning our boxes, laying out the location and the plantings to meet most of our fresh produce needs for the summer and fall. One of the benefits of new editions is that the good stuff stays, some improvements are made, and new information is added. That’s what you’ll find in this latest iteration of Bartholomew’s groundbreaking (sorry – I just can’t resist!) gardening theory – limit weeds and waste by growing more in a smaller space. The book includes the formula for Mel’s mix, tips on building your boxes and where to put them, and a guide to calculating your garden space needs. If you are growing taller plants such as peas and beans, you’ll find guides to building trellises or other accessories, including watering systems. You’ll find natural solutions for dealing with insects and diseases, and how to avoid them in the first place. And if you are inundated with success, the book includes a chapter on how to store the harvest and putting the garden to bed for winter or continue growing in milder climates. In a nod to the Square Foot Gardening Foundation, there is a section on community garden initiatives. A full fifth of the book is devoted to detailed entries on common garden vegetables and how to grow them. The appendices offer size and growing charts, planting charts, seed starting and planting schedules, as well as a good quality index that spans three pages for a 250-page book. Loaded with full-colour photos, this one is already on order for my garden shelf. My thanks to Cool Springs Press for the advance reading copy provided digitally through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39088656

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