Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Anglais) Broché – 5 novembre 2008
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'Fresh Food from Small Spaces' is an exciting book, an inspirational and informative book. Ruppenthal's main topics are container gardening, sprouting, fermenting, growing mushrooms, and small livestock (chickens and bees only), making compost and worm boxes. He lists and describes steps that anyone can take towards helping to build a more sustainable planet and living more lightly on the earth, as well as being more self-reliant.
I was very glad to see a short chapter on 'Survival During Resource Shortages' and one on 'Helping to Build a Sustainable Future'. The 'Introduction' also touches on these topics.
I was also glad to see that Ruppenthal recommends the use of Self-Watering Containers. I know from personal experience (and from being the listowner for a list devoted to Edible Container Gardening) that this is a very, very superior way to grow vegetables in containers.
What the book is *not*: it is definitely not a how-to book. It is *not* the only book you'll ever need about *any* of the topics that it covers. If you buy the book thinking that it is, you'll probably be disappointed. Instead, it gives an excellent general overview and introduction to some very disparate topics. It gives you ideas for things *you can actually do*. The author also points you towards more detailed sources of information on each topic. I doubt if anyone could have written a detailed instructional guide on all of these very different topics.
Major disappointment: the only illustrations are black-and-white stock photos. Some color photos - and more personal photos - would have been a great addition. This is really a very glaring lack. (Shame on you, Chelsea Green Publishers!)
Second major disappointment: no index. I would have expected an index in anything published by Chelsea Green, a quality publisher.
Major plus: The book is referenced, with endnotes. There is a list of resources as well.
I would definitely have given this book my unalloyed praise if it only had better photos and an index. I have no other criticisms. Ruppenthal writes well, too, by the way.
I am a master gardener, so most of what's in here is not new, but there are some great ideas. For example, just seeing how the Europeans do fruit trellises on backstreets was inspiring. Learning how to make your own self-watering container is smart.
The book covers vegetable gardening, berries and fruits, sprouting, yogurt/kefir making, bees, chickens, compost and worms, mushroom growing, container gardening, cold frames and building arbors/trellises to use more vertical space. It is written clearly and points you to other books to read after you've gotten started. And that's all great. Could you have found all that on the internet for free?.... yes. But its still a nice book.
I think what I choked on while reading it is how much time is involved to keep up all these little projects. I would have also loved a "shopping list", with costs, for each project (like the self-watering container, for example, or how much it costs to build a trellis). If you've ever actually done any of these things, and I have, the sobering take away is how much work and time and money goes into getting the results, whether they are a couple of berries in your hand, or a small green salad with lettuce, sprouts and tomatoes you grew yourself. The book does not talk about this factor. It's significant. Most vegetable gardeners will get a merry twinkle in their eye if you ask them about $6 tomatoes, or even $2 zucchinis. Growing food is time intensive and labor intensive.
The other thing (and I like this, but I may not be in the majority) is the last chapter talks about resource depletion, and a time when peak oil or other factors may knock the stuffing out of our food production system. This may not sit well with some people, and this "prep because the world is at end" sensibility is very lightly woven through the book, especially at the beginning and the end. It is where the author is coming from. Again, I personally was reassured by this, because it meant the author and I were on the same page about why we should be learning about this stuff in the first place. But, my mother (for example), would be really thrown off by any "prep for the end is near" talk and might just put the entire book aside for even bringing up something as crazy as peak oil. If your mother is like that, too, you might want to get a different book for her.
However, after getting it I have to say this was really a disappointment. To begin with, the book is not well-edited, and the same general observations on gardening are repeated in many different places throughout the book - it felt like the author had to fill space.
There were very broad chapters on how to keep chickens, bees, grow mushrooms, make your own kefir, etc. but without any sort of in-depth knowledge. Mostly, just a vague overview with references. There are good websites referenced throughout the book but overall, anyone with a little time and Google can probably do better to find the same information online, in far more detail.
I had been hoping for a true play-by-play breakdown of maximizing space and food production, but no luck. If you are looking for concise, informative, and practical tips, move on. If you have absolutely no idea how to garden, then maybe this would be a good starting point. But I'm still searching....
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