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Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces Paperback – Feb 2 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 Original edition (Feb. 2 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307452018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307452016
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #88,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Your patio, balcony, rooftop, front stoop, windowsill, or planter box is a potential fresh food garden waiting to happen. In this book, Gayla Trail, the founder of the leading online gardening community You Grow Girl, shows you how to grow your own delicious, affordable, organic edibles virtually anywhere.

Grow Great Grub packs in helpful tips and essential information about…

  • Choosing a location and making the most of your soil (even if it’s less than perfect)
  • Determining the limitations of space and strategies to overcome them
  • Keeping pests and diseases away from your plants—the toxin-free way
  • Growing bountiful crops in pots and selecting the best heirloom varieties
  • Details on growing hundreds of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers
  • Canning, storing and preserving instruction to make the most of your garden’s generosity
  • Green-friendly, cost-saving growing and building projects that are smart and stylish
  • And much more!

    Whether you’re looking to eat on a budget or simply to experience the pleasure of picking tonight’s meal from right outside your door, this is the must-have book for small-space gardeners—no backyard required.

    About the Author

    Gayla Trail is the creator of the acclaimed top gardening website Her work as a writer and photographer has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Newsweek, Budget Living, and ReadyMade. A resident of Toronto who has grown a garden on her rooftop for more than 10 years, she is also the author of You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening.

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  • Customer Reviews

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    Most helpful customer reviews

    10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Nicholas on March 29 2010
    Format: Paperback
    This book is so fabulous! I live in the country and have lots of room for gardening but its nice to have some new and different ideas and this book is full of them. I love that the author encourages everyone to grow something...even with limited space. Urban gardening is important and its empowering to grow your own food..even enough for a salad. If urbanites can do it, anyone outside of the city certainly can! Gayla Trail is so clever and witty with lots of creativity and she writes beautifully. Very easy to read and lots of nice pictures too! Lee
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    3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Evey on April 2 2011
    Format: Paperback
    This book was fantastic may i just get that out first. She seems so ahead of the game to when she made a book that was funny down to earth and full of personal wisdom its not your ordinary garden book and many books tried to copy it but none could compare. It is 100% worth the money and when i went to Toronto i actually got it signed. She is a marveled lady and the the book is wonderful her website is great to!you will not regret this purchase.
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    0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christa Enders on April 18 2014
    Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
    Easy to understand, and laid out in a step by step way that you will feel comfortable container gardening with ease.
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 79 reviews
    256 of 258 people found the following review helpful
    Another Great Book By Gayle Trail - Makes Gardening Easier and More Fun! Feb. 7 2010
    By Bold Consumer - Published on
    Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
    I bought "Grow Great Grub" because I got so much out of "You Grow Girl". I really didn't see how the author could come up with that much excellent material again, but she did.

    You probably should stop reading and just buy the book. The quality is excellent. Photographs are beautiful. The book is easy to read and doesn't waste time. Well done!

    Pictures of what vegetables are supposed to look like always help. I'm always turning to my neighbor and asking, "Did I plant that or is it a weed?" Usually the neighbor says it's a weed, but I'm never sure.

    The text covers harvesting, drying, preserving, and storing, only one of which I want to do, harvesting, but the other topics are beautifully covered for those who are ready. I'm pushing my luck just to grow and harvest a plant from seed. Maybe next year I'll preserve and store.

    She lists plants that grow well in depleted soil, shady or very hot spots and makes coverage interesting on topics of nutrients, fertilizers, containers, pests, building self-watering planter boxes cheaper than buying, a great idea.

    I learned about heat-loving spinach I was already growing, but had no idea what it needed! Lists of recommended varieties of vegetables and those that work well in containers are especially helpful.

    Now I know when to harvest vegetables, something that always baffled me, including when to dig up onions, when to stop watering, and hang them to cure, and when my radishes were ready to harvest, unfortunately I didn't learn that in time for the current crop, how radishes can be used as a pest repellent for squash, that carrots are slow to germinate but ready to eat at any size, and when potatoes are ready to harvest. I had been about to pull mine out to check. I'm glad I didn't. I had no idea some gardeners say squash plants produce too much squash! I can't wait to have that problem. She covers spacing and staking squash plants, preferred pot size for these space hogs, when to pluck them for best taste, and how to help pollinate, "to make sure the job gets done."

    Sections cover special needs of tomatoes, potatoes, blueberries, cucumbers, squash, and radishes, etc.

    My notes include why not to let water splash up on lower leaves of tomato plants and how to give them certain nutrients while making leaves and stems, when to stop so they will produce fruit, and when and what to give them at that point. There are special planting needs, since they have lots of root growth, and companion plants for best use of space. Then she gave the best definition I've heard of the differences between determinate, indeterminate, semi-determinate (new to me), dwarf hybrid tomatoes, and which one is right for me.

    There is a section on growing fruit in small pots. Now I think I'll grow some strawberries after all. Blueberries - hedge or containers. I think I'll do both. I learned why nothing grows around my pine tree and why blueberries might, why, what and how to prune out to increase growth and discourage fungal problems, needs of high-bush and low-bush blueberries, which one is right for me, how to get the best crops by promoting cross-pollination, when and when not to pick flowers off so the plant can put its energy into growing healthy roots, why/why not to grow fruit from seed, how to prepare citrus soil for fruit plants, when and when not to water, how much sun and heat they need, and how long it takes for them to grow fruit, I might have given up, and finally, how to plant, elevate, and hand-pollinate.

    How did she make all this so interesting and easy to read? I don't know, but I'll be referring to this book often. It's a keeper!
    295 of 312 people found the following review helpful
    Not so great for the beginner gardener March 1 2010
    By Caroline - Published on
    Format: Paperback
    So you're like me: you have a small, but comfortable apartment and you want to have some greenery to spruce things up. A practical soul, you don't just want flowers. You want to be able to grow your own herbs and vegetables, and look forward to your windows popping with color in the summer. But this is your first real foray into the world of container gardening.

    This book is not your bible.

    While it is beautifully composed, and contains a helpful chapter about canning, there is a distinct lack of real facts and procedures. In short: this is an impratical book. Questions about drainage, how to compose your garden, or how to trellis are barely answered. While the sections on individual produce to grow are inticing, they lack the information you need to really make a go at things. This book can be a good starter, but only when complemented with other, more in depth books, and a good gardening center that can guide you through the practical steps.

    As an alternatives, try McGee and Stuckey's The Bountiful Container. Less pretty picture, but far more useful information.
    56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
    If you've ever had any interest in growing your own food, BUY THIS BOOK NOW. Feb. 2 2010
    By Karen Walrond - Published on
    Format: Paperback
    When you first open this book, you'll notice it's beautiful. Seriously beautiful. The photographs are vivid, and the layout is really extraordinary. But then once you get past that, you start to realize it is crammed full of all kinds of information that would be helpful to both the novice gardener and the serious food-grower.

    A really, really exemplary sophomore effort by Trail. Run-do-not-walk to buy this great work.
    17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
    Hey, I've finally not killed all my plants! July 1 2011
    By Auntie Claus - Published on
    Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
    I've spent years killing plants until getting Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces a few months ago, which finally revealed:

    -why the rosemary survived but did not grow (too small a pot)
    -why the basil died (unrelenting exposure to wind)
    -why the thyme survived where the basil did not (the thyme is drought resistant and didn't care that I'd ridiculously put all my herbs in a tiny coir-lined window basket on a wind-whipped second story balcony)
    -why the mint rotted (mints like to "stay wet" I'd been told by other books. Apparently not that wet, and only the soil not the leaves.. Excessively wet + poor air circulation = rot)
    -how all of them could have benefited from mulch (did not occur to me to mulch pots)
    -a clear metaphor to understand and see how often any plant needs water
    -how to make simple plant foods
    -and on and on!

    It also explained terms I had seen thrown around in several gardening books, like the warning to not let your plants "bolt" (which at the time I could only imagine involved my herbs running away to a more competent home). If years of looking at those unhelpful charts so common in other books, describing the exact conditions favored by each plant (type of soil, pH, full sun vs partial shade, etc) have led you to believe that each plant can only be grown in its own meticulously placed test tube, this is just the book to coax you out of that hopeless paradigm. And I spent maybe a decade thinking "partial shade" meant some kind of sparse, broken shade, like under a tree, when it turns out the "partial" refers to time; 4-6 hours of direct sun per day compared to 8 hours of direct sun per day for "full sun."

    And if you've always wanted to grow herbs, but wondered what you might do with them beyond cooking and tea, then absolutely get Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World, a brilliant DIY book on everything from making hair detangler to tinctures to infusions (not to mention all the non-herb-related projects, like how to espalier). Or just look around at the things in your home. Trader Joe's sells sachets of lavender to toss into the dryer; now that I'm up to my eyeballs in lavender, I'm making a reusable mesh pouch that I can just refill. California Baby makes a nice bubble bath for chest colds; I can make an herbal infusion that does the same thing without the bubbles. The authors also have a blog, Root Simple. I love the post on harvesting and drying herbs [...]

    The only point where I disagree is the suggestion to use newspaper and cardboard in compost (I'll pass on the glues, inks, and who knows what else).

    There could be a little more information with regard to harvesting herbs. For example, for lavender it says, "Harvest in the summer, just before the buds open." Well, if I just bought a transplant of lavender that has flowers and some or many of them have already opened, what do I do with those? Leave them, deadhead them, harvest them anyway with the caveat that they won't be *as* potent? I've found the blog Root Simple to be great for this kind of information. See this series on Calendula, which covers growing, harvesting, drying, infusing, and then using the infusion to make a balm. [...]

    I wish there was more information for fruit, specifically dwarf fruit trees and espaliers, beyond the 2 pages given to growing citrus indoors (how does that get pollinated?). The Urban Homestead (Expanded & Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Process Self-reliance Series) says "Grow Edible Perennials: To work less, dedicate part of your garden to plants that bear fruit without you having to think about it. All fruit and nut trees fall into the perennial category. There are dwarf ... varieties that do not take up much room, but deliver plenty of fruit (and because the tree are small, between 8 and 10 feet high, all of that fruit is easily harvested). ... With trees you have yearly harvesting and pruning duties, which is some work, but less than shepherding annual plants from seeds to harvest. After trees, there are fruiting bushes, like blackberry and raspberry bushes. These are usually grown on trellises to control their growth and make harvesting easier. As with trees, this is some work when you set it up, but not constant work (all the years that follow)" I met someone today who has 390 fruiting plants on their 1/3 acre plot; they are definitely a worth including in any "food from small spaces" book. Since most fruit is grown either on a tree or a trellis, the section of this book specific to fruit is 11 pages compared to the vegetables' 47 (and 2 of those 11 are devoted to melons, which she says most small-space gardeners skip because melons sprawl and take up a lot of room in a bed). If anyone knows of a good dwarf orchard book, please recommend it (to clearly explain when to fertilize and with what and why, when and how to prune (open center, central lead, thinning cuts, heading cuts, growth collars, waterspouts, suckers, dormant pruning, after harvest pruning, active growth pruning) troubleshooting and preventing various problems (spider mites, powdery mildew, leaf curl, caterpillars, snails, aphids), how to plant (I've heard something about "percolate the ground first"), equipment & care (bypass pruners, pull saw, loppers, a sharpening tool, disinfectant), culling fruit, or whatever can be covered before it gets too specific for a particular region (like chill hour requirements and what that means for what variety grows where).
    17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
    Great Info for the Beginner and Inspirational for All Gardeners March 28 2010
    By Susan R. Morris - Published on
    Format: Paperback
    This is a great book, especially for the beginning gardener. I blog about gardening and am always getting questions about composting, how to start seeds, how to build good soil, etc. I will start recommending this book to my beginning gardener readers! Its explains easily and simply how to do so many gardening tasks from building a raised bed to composting. It's the perfect books for someone getting started because it doesn't get bogged down with too much information and isn't overwhelming. It promoted gardening as easy and fun (which it is).

    Gardening is a learning process, we learn as we go. It's not necessary to know everything there is to know before setting off. This book does a fantastic job and giving a great overview with enough information and inspiration to get people interesting in growing food. Some beginners may find they need more in depth information than is presented in this book, especially about specific topics, but a book can't cover everything in such depth. There are many books for each specific area of gardening that can be read if you need more information about any particular topic, like composting, seed starting, or growing garlic.

    The best part of this book is the photos. Photos are definitely something that engages people and draws them into the beauty of gardening, especially growing food. I find books like this easy to read and a joy to look through. The photos are definitely an inspiration and serve their purpose to encourage people to Grow Great Grub in their small spaces! It's an inspiration to me to keep documenting my garden through photos on my blog.

    This book is not just for the beginning gardener. I found many tips that were useful for me and and the list of plants for difficult spaces is a great resource (I'll be adding this to my garden notebook). It seems that not many of us have the "ideal" garden spaces, so listing plants for these less than perfect areas is something not many books talk about. You'll most likely find yourself tagging pages or jotting down notes in your notebook as you read.

    Even though I don't buy many books (always try from the library first) and I already have a pretty good gardening library, this book will most likely be added to my library soon!