Mo Tipton's Reviews > How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine

How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons
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Mar 13, 09

bookshelves: gardening
Recommended for: gardeners who want to max their yields
Read in March, 2009

I initially gave this book four stars before realizing that my opinion had less to do with the book and more to do with the fact that my current situation doesn't allow me to put many of the Grow Biointensive principles into practice, so I found myself getting a little bored/frustrated at times.

Aside from a very crowded windowsill (and mushrooms in the closet), a community garden plot is my only available growing space, and it's highly unlikely that I'll have access to the same plot year after year, but because the Grow Biointensive method focuses on improving and maintaining the quality of the soil over time--a very worthwhile goal--I ended up skimming some of the chapters. I'm still planning on using the first few steps in the hopes that I, or the plot's next gardener, will be able to continue the process, however.

If you do have a dedicated growing space, this book will tell you precisely how to prepare the soil given its initial condition, be it sandy and full of weeds or compacted and clayey. Using a double dig technique, the garden plot is weeded, texturized, and enriched with compost and, if necessary during the initial dig, enhanced with organic fertilizers.

The biointensive method aims to achieve "99% sustainability," which essentially means that it strives to produce all compost materials and nutrients within the garden or minifarm itself, as importing them from elsewhere merely serves to deplete other soils in the long run, and detailed instructions and charts illustrating how this can be attained are provided.

Even if you don't have a dedicated growing space, the comprehensive master charts compiled by Ecology Action are an excellent reference on planting depth and spacing, germination time, harvesting period, and more, and you'll even find an introduction to Rudolf Steiner's method of planting by the phases of the moon.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Wayne (last edited Mar 14, 2009 07:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Wayne Hi, Mo. This is an excellent book, but I'd heartily suggest reading Steve Solomon's Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food In Hard Times as a companion to it.

Jeavons' "Grow Biointensive" method does produce maximum yields per square foot, there's no argument. But Solomon's methods yield just a little bit less for a LOT less work. He also gives more care, I feel, to the importance of the mineral content of soil, and how if affects not just plant growth, but human nutrition as well. Most of all, Solomon offers direct indictments of what he sees as the weaknesses of intensive gardening.

One of the things I liked most about Solomon's book is that he has instructions on how to garden quick and dirty, like when you don't get to start until halfway through the summer and all you have is a shovel or a hoe. (Spoiler: Mound up soil into hills and plant there. They're small raised beds that you can do one at a time as time permits, and you can scrape away sod and weeds between the hills after you get your seeds in the ground. I did this last year when my tiller was being uncooperative after a long, wet spring, and it worked great.)


message 2: by Mo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mo Tipton Thanks for the recommendation, Wayne. Gardening When It Counts is hiding somewhere near the bottom of my to-read shelf, I believe, but I'll have to bump it up to the top.

And thanks for mentioning the importance of mineral content--I don't think that's something I necessarily would have noticed lacking in Jeavons' discussion, simply because I wasn't paying attention, but you're right, it's definitely a crucial component of good soil stewardship.

Happy growing :)


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