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Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting
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Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  546 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Books on container gardening have been wildly popular with urban and suburban readers, but until now, there has been no comprehensive -how-to- guide for growing fresh food in the absence of open land. Fresh Food from Small Spaces fills the gap as a practical, comprehensive, and downright fun guide to growing food in small spaces. It provides readers with the knowledge and ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 5th 2008 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company
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Apr 16, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was ok
Shelves: food
Keeping Bees? Worm bins? Chickens? Gardening on concrete? starting seeds, fermenting foods, and sprouting? Doesn't this sound AWESOME??
But one catch. It's not clear that the author has actually done all of these things-- some of them he hasn't at all-- bees, for example. He just thinks it's neat, and that other people SHOULD do it. You know, if they can find a book or something to tell them how. Some OTHER book.

Some of the chapters are useful-- the how tos for the worm bin and the concrete compo
Susan Albert
May 04, 2009 Susan Albert rated it really liked it
Beware. This is a dangerous book. Once you have read it, you will not be able to say: "I don't have enough space (or light, or the right climate, or soil) to grow any food." You'll have to find some other excuse.

Faced with the recognition of climate change, energy depletion, and biofuel competition, even urban dwellers, says R.J. Ruppenthal, may have to "relearn basic food production skills in a hurry, if we are to survive and thrive in this new world" (p. x). Fresh Food From Small Spaces gives
Feb 17, 2009 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who eats
One of the things I initially found difficult when I was looking for ways to grow more of my own food in a teeny tiny space was how best to get started. It was easy to assume that one or two herb plants was all I had room for, hence why should I bother? But this book is a great way to take a mental inventory of your space and come up with a handful of creative ways in which to coax more food from it. Whether you decide to cultivate mushrooms in the closet or grow sprouts on top of the refrigerat ...more
Jul 14, 2009 Laurie rated it liked it
Shelves: gardens-plants
Lots of good info here on a variety of topics.
Nov 22, 2016 Megan rated it it was ok
I picked this up mostly for the mushroom and beekeeping sections. Both of them were terribly thin on information. My time might have been better spent on Google searches and Youtube videos. I didn't find the writing particularly engaging, either. The other sections I read in this already-short book focused on the "why" instead of the practical "how." And the "why" was all doom-and-gloom lecturing and statistics.
May 26, 2011 Andi rated it really liked it
Shelves: gardening
Sort of a 'quick guide' that leads the reader to visualize the possibilities they have for producing some of their own food, R.J. Ruppenthal packs a lot of ideas into this simple, short read. He takes a refreshing look at growing food in VERY small spaces. I say 'refreshing' because I've read so many wonderful gardening books loaded with ideas that stop me in my tracks once I realize how much SPACE is needed. Through his own trial and error he has learned to maximize his small apartment and pati ...more
May 19, 2009 AJ rated it really liked it
Recommended to AJ by: andrea
I can't say that this book has any earth shattering information in it - if you are already growing vegetables in your apartment or have read books like Urban Homestead Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City, then you probably won't find a ton of new information in it. However the author does focus specifically on a few plants that are particularly good in low space / low light situations, such as berries and dwarf trees, so I appreciated that insight.

The author also covers
Elizabeth Hills
May 31, 2009 Elizabeth Hills rated it really liked it
very general book
reasons for growing your own food
includes a discussion of peak oil and climate change, which, while true and interesting, takes a little focus away from the book.

Includes lots of suggestions about how to best utilize your space. few details, though provides a lot of references, both links and books.

what plants grow best in what conditions (full sun, partial sun, shade)
touches on how to extend growing season and increasing light in shady spaces, pest control, soil amendments
Feb 11, 2015 Amanda rated it liked it
This book was written for apartment, condo, and small-house dwellers. The author gives suggestions for eking home-grown/sprouted/fermented foods out of postage-stamp yards, balconies, laundry rooms, sunken patios, cupboards, windowsills, and closets. He covers vegetable gardening (using reflected light, trellising, and terracing), compact fruits and berries, sprouting, fermenting (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi), cultivating mushrooms, keeping chickens and bees, and composting. Somewhere ...more
Jan 19, 2010 Taylor rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, gardening
This was a strange book. At its best moments it felt like an urban agricultural guide as created by the editors of Lifehacker--in a very, very good way. Many helpful tips for DIYers looking to grow all sorts of fruits and vegetables in less-than-typical conditions. Tons of interesting hacks and a plethora of websites and books to dig deeper into topics like mushroom cultivation, dwarf fruit trees, worm composting, etc.

In its weaker moments, though, the book veered into a strange survivalist and
Oct 02, 2009 jess rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, growing, food
I do like this book. I think it is inspirational, has a lot of good ideas, and provides that "spark" that we need sometimes to think about producing more food in the space available to us whether it is shady and has poor light, or our space is all concrete, or if the space we have is only a balcony or a shelf of a closet. Growing sprouts, mushrooms, chickens, bees, berries, nuts, and fruit are all covered here, albeit very quickly with shallow information. A lot of people really underestimate ho ...more
May 13, 2009 Anju rated it liked it
This book is a good introductory work for people who want an idea of what's possible. It certainly won't tell you everything you need to know, but it's a good place to start.

I particularly liked the discussions of container edibles, backyard fruit varieties, sprouting, yogurt making, and chickens. The sprouting and yogurt making are of particular interest to me since I learned to sprout mung beans from my mom, and my dad used to make yogurt at home. The book often recommends against using metal
Feb 22, 2010 Happyreader rated it really liked it
If you're a beginner urban gardener like myself, you'll finish this book with a long list of gardening desires - dwarf fruit trees (I so want a fig tree), strawberries, winter greens under solar bells, Earthboxes (although one gardening instructor said it was a waste of money), sprouts (I want an Easy Sprout container), chicken tractors to take chickens on foraging road trips (although what's with the suggestion in the intro, fortunately not repeated in the chicken chapter, of attaching elevated ...more
Mar 25, 2011 Jeri rated it liked it
Fresh Food from Small Spaces is an informative book. It tells you how to do the things that the author suggests in a way that someone who has never picked up a spade before could do. It even gives you tips that make a lot of sense, but that would be hard to discover yourself. It made me want to go plant a fruit tree, make my own yogurt, and get some chickens. I'm not so sure about sprouting or having a bee hive.

Ruppenthal, the author, makes a good case for learning how to do all of this stuff..
Dec 23, 2009 Leigh-ann rated it it was ok
I borrowed this book from the library after reading reviews of it. I was trying to find out more about making homemade dairy products, like cheese, yogurt, and kefir, and this book seemed to be a popular title in that category. Unfortunately for me, the book was more of a how-to guide for growing foods in containers, in small shaded, areas, etc. In other words, it was exactly what the title indicated, but I'm only giving it a two-star review because it lacked the recipes I'd hoped to ...more
Dec 11, 2008 Cindywho rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a good book for ideas - the author dips into gardening, beekeeping, mushroom growing, sprouts, etc... with more expertise in the gardening and sprouting areas. I may not be as ready as he is to contemplate more closely any future shortages in resources that will make more urban food production necessary, but I'm thinking I might try raspberries this spring and may try out some sprouting this winter. The writing style made my eyes roll from time to time (supernouns and "you may laugh" esp ...more
Oct 13, 2010 Sheena rated it liked it
Really helpful in teaching you to garden with-in your shoebox of a living space. Gets ya thinking about real possibilities for your small space, not the huge plot of land you want to have someday. Not really a technical how-to, more of a show you how to tweak the standard gardening techniques. He leaves you with enough info to take the lessons from traditional gardening advice/steps and make it work for you small scale.
Jenn S
Jan 01, 2011 Jenn S added it
Shelves: gardening
The author says that this book is for those in apartments, but really, I couldn't do most of the things he mentions - I can't have plants on my balcony. I appreciated the parts on reflected light, deciding what to grow and the part about containers, but that was about it. It even covers chickens and honeybees. If you're looking for something outside the mainstream thought of city growing, you might enjoy this.
Apr 18, 2010 Eva rated it really liked it
If you live in an apartment and want to garden, this book is perfect for you. Seriously. Its so easy to read and you can easily skip around to the parts you need - like how to build a self-watering planter and where to order seeds and how to grow blueberries and how to make your own yogurt. Thanks to this, I'm starting peas and carrots and cherry tomatoes and mint and chives on my balconey next week.
Jul 17, 2011 Deb rated it really liked it
Mostly a "Rah!Rah! You can do it!" kind of book, however it dies have a couple of unique DIY gems.
The directions for making a self-watering planter are detailed, and also explain the function of each part so you can easily adapt them to many kinds of containers.
The chapter on fermented foods is something I've not seen before in a gardening book. Again, there are detailed instructions for making sauerkraut, kefir, and best of all, three kinds of kimchee.
Aug 09, 2009 Joshua added it
Shelves: hippie, summer09
An enjoyable read, but not too substantial or informative. I would describe it as "motivational", as it is not a how-to manual, and lacks specific details. More detailed tutorials for making sub-irrigated planters (and pretty much everything else) can be found online (for free). This book would be good to give to a neighbor/friend who you are trying to persuade to get into this kind of stuff, but said person would be hard pressed to actually get anything done using only this book.
Mar 13, 2011 Emilysa rated it really liked it
Such a helpful book for the beginner gardener. He encourages use of all available space and has real ideas for how use them. Granted, some things, like growing mushrooms, are a little too much for me to want to try, but his advice has helped my little garden to actually grow. It has a lot of resources for where to get seeds, how to grow things, how to deal with light, water, and soil issues, and how to live in a more sustainable way. Definitely a good read.
Jul 31, 2009 Melissa rated it liked it
just picked this up from the library, and though i'm unimpressed with any book that has a typo in the very first sentence, i'm excited by the premise of this book: growing a sizable amount of a household's food with little or no yard. it explores keeping chickens and bees, as well, both things i'm interested in pursuing in the future. i'm excited to read this!
Mar 19, 2010 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Actually addresses the problems of low or little light and minimal or no outdoor space for producing food. Very detailed guide, with lots of diy or low cost options for materials, covering a variety of food sources. The last chapter covers being prepared in the case of emergency/temporary resource depletion. Very accessible, comprehensive.
Lisa Nolan
Aug 25, 2012 Lisa Nolan rated it really liked it
This book has a lot of information! It is really a DIY kind of book! I had to return it to the libray, but I would definitely buy a copy used on Amazon, and have my husband read for ideas for our outside areas. He really knows his stuff! If you like hands-on books, and are ready to get down and dirty, wink, wink, this book is for you!
Jul 01, 2010 kk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received some great ideas from this book. It gives you ideas on how to garden in limited space. I now grow parsley and bush beans in my flower bed and I mixed dill and more parsley in a small rose bed. This book led me to investigate sprouting seeds and vermicomposting. With additional reading I now have a successful worm bin for composting and I sprout seeds and beans regularly.
Mar 13, 2011 Carrie rated it liked it
This was a really interesting book particularly about container gardening. It is by no means definitive or very instructive. It will give you some great ideas to get started but I wouldn't recommend to buy this for anyone but vegetarians. Sprouting, fermenting and growing mushrooms are covered in this text which topics are often omitted in other books of the same genre.
Feb 24, 2010 Julie rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic introduction to different things you can do in an urban gardening situation. I loved the no-nonsense ideas in this book and would say that it's a must for anyone interested in this subject.
May 16, 2010 Ginger rated it really liked it
Shelves: health, gardening
Although I learned a couple valuable tips to help in my quest to grow most of our food, I thought the contect was a bit lacking. For many it would be a wonderful starting point. It's more of a summary of the possiblities with only a few how-tos.
Mar 11, 2009 Lindsay rated it liked it
I really enjoy gardening and hope to do more of it when I have my own yard. I checked it out mainly for the sprouting portion, but I liked the fermenting section as well. I never really thought of fermenting as gardening, but it was interesting.
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