Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times

Gardening When It Counts Growing Food in Hard Times The decline of cheap oil is inspiring increasing numbers of North Americans to achieve some measure of backyard food self sufficiency In hard times the family can be greatly helped by growing a highl

  • Title: Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times
  • Author: Steve Solomon
  • ISBN: 9780865715530
  • Page: 261
  • Format: Paperback
  • The decline of cheap oil is inspiring increasing numbers of North Americans to achieve some measure of backyard food self sufficiency In hard times, the family can be greatly helped by growing a highly productive food garden, requiring little cash outlay or watering.Currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods are largely inappropriate to this new circumstance.The decline of cheap oil is inspiring increasing numbers of North Americans to achieve some measure of backyard food self sufficiency In hard times, the family can be greatly helped by growing a highly productive food garden, requiring little cash outlay or watering.Currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods are largely inappropriate to this new circumstance Crowded raised beds require high inputs of water, fertility and organic matter, and demand large amounts of human time and effort But, except for labor, these inputs depend on the price of oil Prior to the 1970s, North American home food growing used land with less labor, with wider plant spacing, with less or no irrigation, and all done with sharp hand tools But these sustainable systems have been largely forgotten Gardening When It Counts helps readers rediscover traditional low input gardening methods to produce healthy food.Designed for readers with no experience and applicable to most areas in the English speaking world except the tropics and hot deserts, this book shows that any family with access to 3 5,000 sq ft of garden land can halve their food costs using a growing system requiring just the odd bucketful of household waste water, perhaps two hundred dollars worth of hand tools, and about the same amount spent on supplies working an average of two hours a day during the growing season.Steve Solomon is a well known west coast gardener and author of five previous books, including Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades which has appeared in five editions.

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    About "Steve Solomon"

    1. Steve Solomon

      Steve Solomon is the founder of the Territorial Seed Company He has been growing most of his family s food for over 35 years, and is the author of several landmark gardening books A lifelong evangelist for the value of self sufficiency, his writing, lectures and classes are focused on helping people become financially independent through producing their own necessities He currently homesteads in Tasmania.

    428 thoughts on “Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times”

    1. Dense, textbook-level knowledge (hard-won by the author as he cheerfully tells us) on growing vegetables for max nutrition and quality. Mr. Solomon is thorough and smart, but he is the "Anti-Square Foot" gardener, advocating starting far more seeds than you can support, and thinning to a wide spacing for healthy, "self=reliant" plants. Has a great chapter on fertilization and manure, and another on tools. He provides several pages on each major plant, in order from simplest-to-grow to most chall [...]

    2. I really wanted to like this book, and I REALLY did not. I can't even finish it. It's been years of limping through it. This book sucks ALL the joy out of gardening. All of it. Unless you actually make it to the torturous end and get some food. This man analyzes everything to the nth degree -- down to things like the result of different pressures of different watering systems and the result on the dirt and exact distances for growing things and exact formulas for fertilizer and dirt and how to d [...]

    3. Brilliant book, full of deeply useful gardening advice. Very, very well-written. A couple major flaws: his bias towards water-rich bioregions is a real problem for a reader living in the desert southwest, which is a bioregion this author appears to have never even heard of, from the way he talks. (He mentions the "low desert states" once, but apparently nobody ever mentioned to him that ENORMOUS chunks of NM, and AZ, and some portions of NV and CA, are above 5000 ft elevation.) Consequently, he [...]

    4. This book is the perfect counterpoint to John Jeavons' How to Grow More Vegetables. Solomon debunks the Grow Biointensive method as requiring too much investment of time, labor, water, and amendments for too little gain. A former seed man with experience in biointensive gardening, Solomon takes us to the gardens of our great-grandparents and shows us *why* they planted the way they did. His method requires more land per plant than Jeavons' method, but it's because the plants themselves require i [...]

    5. This book is extremely pragmatic and not influenced by garden centers, seed companies, politically correctness and conventional wisdom. A very interesting and informative book. other people talk about his methodslivinglowinthelouwaldeneffect/blog/Stev

    6. Well really I rated this three stars, because I don't have much positive or negative feedback on this book. He disagrees with a lot of gardening advice especially sheet mulching and intensive gardening. I don't know, that seems to work well for many. He did have a good point about cross-pollination in intensive gardening, but I think the gardener should decide whether or not that bothers them, and/or how to deal with it. Anyways, I'm a really lazy gardener. I like sheet mulching, or my version o [...]

    7. I suppose this book gave a little bit of helpful advice that I haven't read in other places. His technique involves working mostly organically, which I liked and he had some good ideas on how to maintain plants with a minimal amount of watering, which is useful in Texas where it doesn't rain that often. What didn't help was that this was for exponentially larger areas of growing than I will ever have access to.The author is an older man that has been growing plants and selling seeds for a very l [...]

    8. Pretty good. Steve presents himself as that straight from the hip, grandpa farmer you never had with a helping of crotechy old man who delights in telling you not to do what everyone is selling you on. His ideas about spacing bears up in my limited experience. My second year of gardening I spaced things way closer and had horrible yields compared to my first year when I had only planted a couple of things. His explanation on composting was the best ever. I've read tons of books and articles on c [...]

    9. So far, this book is equal parts inspiring and frustrating. Since one of his main goals is to get gardeners to space things out more, allowing them to water less, and I'm an urban gardener with no choice to add another half-acre of lawn to my garden we're off to an awkward start. And he's a little harsh about his fallen mentors in intensive gardening and a little egotistical about his own fertilizer recipe. Nonetheless, he clearly knows his stuff, and his explanations of everything from selectin [...]

    10. This is a deliberately contrarian book from an experienced gardener, businessman, and author. It was recommended to me as an opposition to Jeavons' and others' theories of intensive gardening. I was fascinated by the points Solomon made about the effect of climate and rainfall on the planning and the importance of buying commercial seed instead of saving it, where at all possible. He also gives specific recommendations for seed suppliers he trusts in the various climate zones, and helps the read [...]

    11. As a newbie gardener, I liked this book because it has such a scientific bent. It's not a textbook, but it's clearly written by someone who is both experienced in the field, and has a deep understanding of the chemistry & biology of gardening. So many books tell you what to do; it's nice when someone explains why.I made my own Complete Organic Fertilizer, following the book's instruction. It was an adventure, but I finally stumbled across the Hugo Feed Mill, which sells the bulk agricultural [...]

    12. I just finished the book Gardening When It Counts by Steve Soloman. Soloman takes a slightly different approach to gardening that other books I have read. His focus is more on how to get the most out of your garden with less work. He takes inspiration from the early Native Americans and how they grew their gardens without the use of extensive irrigation that we have available to us today. He also goes into great detail about how to give your plants lots of room to grow and how to create your own [...]

    13. i love a book about food growing and sustainability that blows most of what i know and have been taught completely out of the water. i feel like solomon is actually putting food growing/urban gardening in the context of rapidly declining fertility and imminent lack of access to water. he goes back to what our grandparents and greatparents did when they grew food and put it in context. super important. super relevant. and super smart, albeit a little sassy at times.a bit complicated also in the r [...]

    14. I loved this book! I know nothing of gardening and Solomon clearly explains traditional gardening strategies for those of us whose only gardening experience is seeing our grandparents do it.After reading the book I feel confident in my 'book knowledge' that I am willing to try out gardening myself.Particularly, I enjoyed his opinions on organic versus fertilizer methods. Solomon is critical of both methods and address his critiques clearly. He provides solutions for the short comings of both.In [...]

    15. There was a lot of good information in this book, but the thing it really drove home for me was the fact that you can't make something out of nothing. That is, compost made from nutritionally deficient materials will still be nutritionally deficient. It's interesting that many of the agriculture books I've read lately have really hammered on the need to add minerals to deficient soil.The other extremely useful section of this book was the section on choosing, maintaining, and using the basic han [...]

    16. Whew - this book kinda blew much of what I thought I knew out of the water. For example, Mr. Solomon really does not believe in sheet mulching (where you prepare your beds by creating a lasagna-like situation out of layers of straw, manure, etc.) He debunks lots of popular ideas - about watering, how much space to give your plants, how to plant seed, how to fertilize, etc.One criticism - his ways do demand a lot of land. And some sections were intimidating to me (measuring water flow rates and c [...]

    17. Written by a cranky old man with a serious superiority complex, this book comes off as unfriendly and elitist. Gardeners who don't subscribe to his techniques are obviously rank amateurs with no hope of success, and he refers to them as "Everyone Else." If you can ignore this old codgers teaching style, you may be able to glean a few useful facts, especially his recipe for complete organic fertilizer (COF) and the importance of soil amendments. I had many questions answered by this book, but I r [...]

    18. This is one of the best gardening books I've read in a long time. Be warned --- it's not really suited to the suburban backyard gardener, which is why I liked it so much. Instead Solomon writes about how to grow your own food the most efficiently, explaining why some intensive gardening strategies don't make sense.Read the highlights of Gardening When It Counts on my blog.

    19. This author's attitute is somewhat offensive and elitest. However, the information in this book is gold. I live in a very dry desert area but believe his techniques can be adapted to produce better results than intensive gardening techniques I'm currently attempting. I'll be adding this book to my library.

    20. An extremely useful book, full of information on how to get maximum nutrition at minimum cost from your vegetable garden. Detailed without being confusing or overly technical. He's got great advice on tools, water-saving techniques, and seed varieties.

    21. This is not a fun book to read. (Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy is a fun book to read). This book may not inspire you. This book won't help you if all you have is a patio or balcony. This book also isn't for you if you love to see how much food you can grow per square inch. This book probably won't be enjoyable for people who think of gardening as a hobby. This book is for people who want to grow an abundance of nutritious food (and have the necessary space to do it). It's a [...]

    22. This is an interesting take by the author of his experience using non-intensive gardening methods (such as wide spacing between plants) to produce tastier and more resilient vegetables that require less irrigation. It's not the most exciting or inspiring book to read, but there are nuggets of unique insights. For example, I enjoyed Chapter 9's explanation of root development in vegetable crops. As the author says, "e plant growth you can't see is as important as what you can see." This chapter a [...]

    23. This book is filled with great information that is actually meaningful and practical to implement. The writing skirts the edge of sarcasm, which makes it a pleasure to read cover-to-cover.It is one of the few I've decided worthy to own. Most gardening books are best checked out from the library (I used to have an epic collection of outdated, expensive gardening books), but this one is a keeper.

    24. The author is deeply knowledgeable. The format of the doesn't match my style of reading so I may not read it (I like bulleted lists and the like and this is mostly paragraphs) so I will continue reading other gardening books before buying this. That being said, I've read about 50 gardening books so far and this is in the top 2.

    25. The purpose of this book is to ensure you get something to eat from your garden this year.“I assume you are reading my book because you seriously need to make a food garden, starting as soon as you can put some seeds or seedlings into the earth.I assume you can't afford costly mistakes and wasted efforts”.[pg 13] In a chart on page 16 and in the chapter where he gives growing advice by crop he lists vegetables by level of care needed. Advice is also given on a sliding scale – what to grow [...]

    26. Good resource for planning and planting. I have horrible clay soil here so I've flagged several recommendations for improving quality.

    27. Wow, this guy has a chip on his shoulder. From the dedication:"Since the time I was sent to elementary school, my feet have marched to the beat of a different drummer than Everybody Else's. This book is for Mr. and Ms. Everybody Else, who are well known and highly respected authorities on most everything. It has long been my experience that Everybody Else is often wrong and needs the information in this book."hmm He may be right about lots of things, but reading the rest of his book will be thro [...]

    28. TL;DR: Not recommended for beginner gardeners, mostly not recommended for more advanced gardeners either. Author has a SERIOUS chip on his shoulder.Full Review:I found this book mostly disappointing. The title would seem to indicate ways to conserve water, reduce costs, and generally improve self-sufficiency. Instead, a large portion of the book is taken up with the author's ramblings about his days running a seed company, and how he's the only one doing things the right way. His attitude comes [...]

    29. I took my time reading this book, because there is a lot of solid, well-researched, practical information that I wanted to remember when planning my garden in future years. But the solid, well-researched, and practical information was only about 2/3 of the book. The remaining third was split between ranting manifesto of how not to garden and information that contradicts what was said in previous parts of the book.I thought that the flow of the book was good between topics, and it was thorough as [...]

    30. There are a lot of "How To" books out there for gardening. Steve Solomon, original founder of Territorial Seed, takes an approach harking back to days when families depended on their gardens to feed them throughout the year. His recommendations include "what not to do" such as crowding your plantings so that they stress the soil and watering ability of nature and "what to do" such as growing things that are within your relative gardening skill to grow, and to maximize your food stores by growing [...]

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