Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square” as Want to Read:
One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  292 ratings  ·  46 reviews
A Hands-On Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs—Starting with Just One Square Yard!

Lolo Houbein has been growing food for more than 30 years—and now, drawing on her wide learning and hard-earned experience, she offers a wealth of information on how to turn small plots of land into sources of nourishing, inexpensive, organic food. Amateur gardeners wonderin
...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by The Experiment (first published 2010)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about One Magic Square, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about One Magic Square

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  292 ratings  ·  46 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square
Boxofdelights
Jul 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I love compost. I dislike spending money and fossil fuel. This book's instructions for starting a bed are to pick up:
- a bag of mushroom or other compost
- a bag of organic potting soil
- a bale or pack of straw
- a bag of animal manure
- a small bag of gypsum for clay soil
- a tiny bag of lime for acidic soil
- organic fertilizer pellets or liquid seaweed fertilizer.
Maybe I'm just not the right audience for this book? But who is? Who likes spending money and fossil fuel they don't have to, in order
...more
Online Eccentric Librarian
More reviews at the Online Eccentric Librarian http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/

More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/

One Magic Square provides a starting point for creating a small home garden. By starting with just a 3 foot square, a sustainable garden can be created and then slowly expanded upon over time. The book is comprehensive and easy to follow, with all the information needed to start a small plot. Note that there aren't many pictures or illustrations, so this is a do-by-reading experience. But Houbein is friendly, encourag
...more
Patricia
Jul 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Thank goodness I checked this out from the library. This hasn't been the greatest year for gardening, and this book reminded me that I don't have to give everything up--I can plant now and still get good food for autumn.

This book combines a sort of backyard permaculture theory with the Square Foot Gardening concept, although she uses many things planted in a square yard, rather than one thing planted in a square feet. The author lives in Australia, so some of the plants are called by names we wo
...more
Andi
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gardening
This is one of those books you can crack open at any place within the pages and find something great. Lolo Houbein is very practical, knows how to make the best out of a square yard of growing space, and how to create a thriving permaculture in your own backyard. Having survived a horrific famine during World War II as a child living in Holland, Houbein has very personal reasons for learning to garden efficiently.

She doesn't mince words, and at times you may feel like you are standing in the ga
...more
Pauline
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the most useful and most beautiful book of last year: for experienced gardeners it is full of practical tips, but for people aspiring to grow their own vegetables, like me, it is a godsend! Houbein takes you step by step from planning your vegetable garden on a square metre to a successful harvest with minimum effort. She convinces that growing your own vegetables does not need to be time consuming and you only need limited space. She shows you how important it is to reconnect with the s ...more
Justin
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: gardening
There is a great deal of information in this book. However, since much of the book is dedicated to plot details most of this information is too terse for me. The author seems to know her stuff, but I'd rather have a more detailed book as a resource
Kate Deeks
May 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
Too verbose. The content lacked focus, and I was alienated by the tone.
Julie
Mar 31, 2010 is currently reading it
I'm going to grow a tiny vegetable garden!
Wendy Wagner
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gardening
Lots of basic information about organic gardening, but so very encouraging that it made me want to run out and plant something right away! Also contains a lot of great recipe ideas.
Scott Lupo
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am trying square foot gardening this year and wanted to see what this book had to say. A ton of useful information about organic gardening. I liked the author's style of just giving one 3 foot square plot a try. Just plant and see what happens. Basically just trying to get people started. Gardening can be addictive and just getting somebody started is a way to spread that addiction. Good job! The section on themed plots was interesting. With enough room I could imagine themed plots over time w ...more
Christine
I learned some things from this garden book, but I had to remind myself many times that the writer lives in Australia where there is no snow. The seasons for growing were geared toward their climate and if I had never gardened before, I would be very confused and mislead. I do like her concept of just digging a 3 foot square at a time, and it's creative to theme each plot. I also like her organic viewpoint and low cost ways to start seedlings.
Sami
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book if you are looking for in depth tips for setting up a "square foot" style garden. Houbein's method takes the best parts of the concept of square foot gardening, discards the overwrought elements and creates a beautiful garden book packed full of relevant information, planting suggestions and diagrams. It is one I will buy for my garden reference library.
Valerie
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gardening
Borrowed this book from the library and thought it would be a good book on growing in small spaces. In reality the first half was just repetitive basic facts about gardening that would only be helpful if you've never touched a spade in your life. The second half only really offered impractical themed garden plans along the lines of "a salsa garden" which which don't really work.
Seldear
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for starting out gardening...or for experienced gardeners looking for more inspiration in different ways. Lots of simple advice for starting small, but all the ideas can be added together for a larger, more productive garden.
Autumn Tiedgen
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very helpful and inspiring. Already started some new plants!
Mary Doss
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
a simplified square foot system with many helps
Jennette
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The best part of the book was the plot drawings and specific themed lists toward the end. Excellent for beginners!
Vanessa Andujo
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Gardeners, New Gardeners, Organic Gardeners,
Over all this was a great all around gardening book. It covers the basics of soil prep, watering, pests, crop rotation, pruning, problem solving, ect.

A beginner will need to read Part 1 and Part 2 in full before starting. Anyone with some gardening experience can jump ahead where the author suggests to do so.

Even people with gardening experience will get a lot from this book. I believe that this really is a 'must have.' It is informative enough for the average gardener but simple enough to u
...more
Stacy
Oct 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gardening
This gardening book focuses on using raised beds to raise vegetables. The author grew up in Holland and later moved to Austalia, so some of her stories are a bit quirky to me as an American, mostly because I can't imagine battling a bandicoot in my own garden. But that's part of what makes it entertaining to read.

This book is a great reference book positively bursting with information acquired over a lifetime of growing her own food. But perhaps the most compelling thing about this book is the a
...more
Yellowoasis
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I've got the NZ version of this book so it's "One square metre" and the organic bit has been dropped, which is interesting. I really like the can-do attitude and lack of pretension. In fact, the book starts by saying, "Put down this book and go outside and mark off a square metre". You've got to love a book that starts by telling you to stop reading it immediately and get on with your garden! Having said that, I haven't actually done anything yet apart from read the plot descriptions, so it's ea ...more
Rachel Stansel
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have grown in square foot gardens for the past three years, but this book will be a huge step forward in helping me better utilize, plan and for next year's crops. I loved the intro and the 10 green rules. I found the section on improving the soil to be the biggest help and the most concise and informative I have read on this topic. It is straightforward with great, realistic ideas on how to best improve a backyard garden based on the time you have and what you hope to accomplish. This is defi ...more
Danielle
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was pretty good. Needed a few more pictures. Was a little disorganized and wordy and the actual garden plot ideas left a lot to be desired (probably best to just wing it on your own). A couple of the tips were good but some of it was ridiculous. I'm all for repurposing things but by the time you put out all your old broken umbrellas as plant shade, used broken styrofoam containers as borders, half bury old bottles filled with water to regulate ground temperature, and use an old bathtub as a w ...more
Tamara
Nov 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, green
Great resource when attempting to design a small/compact food garden. I was mostly interested in the pasta/pizza plots, but there are a lot of other good ideas as well, including stir-fry plots, salad plots, soup plots, etc.

I don't have a 3-foot square to call my own, but maybe I can convince the condo association to do a community garden in one of the shared green spaces? Hmmm...
Polly Krize
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, one of the best food garden design books I have come across. Imaginative gardens are presented, with such easy to follow directions. Information on amending soil, compost and vegetable varieties to choose is invaluable. Highly recommended to any food gardener!
Gary Patton
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great companion to complement "One Square Foot Gardening".

Grow square foot! Grow easy! Grow lots!

Do it in your garden. In pots on your patio or balcony. or most fun, I your local "Community Garden" with your neighbours!

This book and the other above will teach you all you nerd to know ...whether or not you have a "green thumb"!

Grow for fun and prosper!

GaryFPatton
(2013-09-11)
Mariah
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: how-to
This book's approach is decidedly not scientific, measured, and careful. It is freeing, inviting, approachable, and experimental. I LOVED IT! I have yet to actually garden, but it has helped me so much in making plans and feeling like I could at least *start*. I had borrowed my copy from the library, but I will be needing a copy on my shelf for next growing season!
Barry
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014
Inspiring! I can attest to being surprised - from our very amateur efforts at the community garden - by how much food can be grown in relatively small plots given good soil, water and sunshine. Where this book takes me is towards more careful planning of planting & gardening to provide a diverse ongoing bounty. ...more
Ariel
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
i have read a lot of gardening books. this one is excellent. it seems to cover so much that my other books do and yet puts it all (and more!) into a neat little easy-to-read-and-follow format, with focus on each garden plot itself. i like that. i also like that the author is an older woman who comes from a different experience.
Danielle Martin
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wish there was more information about companion cropping, but there are soooo many good ideas for starting your garden, fertilization needs for different plants, and rotating crops through the seasons, taking in to account the different maturation rates for different plants.
Lisa
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very interesting! Although, not reading very many adult books anymore, I have no attention span! Lots of new information that'll hopefully improve my garden over the next few years. Especially loved the plans for the different plots (the cancer-fighting one really blew my mind!).
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Inheritance of Loss
  • The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Mountain States
  • Rocky Mountain Vegetable Gardening Guide
  • How to Raise Rabbits: Everything You Need to Know
  • The Slap
  • A Fortunate Life
  • Too Much Lip
  • Chicken and Egg: Raising Chickens to Get the Eggs You Want
  • Grow Fruit
  • When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth
  • I Can See Right Through You
  • Get in Trouble
  • Jasper Jones
  • The Abyss (Fae's Captive, #7)
  • The Bazaar (Fae's Captive, #6)
  • Snow, Glass, Apples
  • Ground Rules: 100 Easy Lessons for Growing a More Glorious Garden
  • Field Guide to Urban Gardening: How to Grow Plants, No Matter Where You Live: Raised Beds - Vertical Gardening - Indoor Edibles - Balconies and Rooftops - Hydroponics
See similar books…
1 follower
Born in Holland, Lolo Houbein came to Australia at 24 with her husband and children after growing up in an atmosphere of war. She studied the University of Adelaide, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Australian Literature, Anthropology and Classics in 1975. She later studied at the University of Papua New Guinea, and gained a Graduate Diploma in Teaching from the Adelaide College of Advanced Education ...more

Related Articles

Famous people! Are they really just like us? In the case of these individuals, the answer is a resounding yes when it comes to loving book...
11 likes · 0 comments