Book Review: “The Vertical Veg Guide to Container Gardening”

“The Vertical Veg Guide to Container Gardening:
How to Grow an Abundance of Herbs, Vegetables and Fruit in Small Spaces”
By Mark Ridsdill Smith
Chelsea Green Publishing, 2022
320 pages, paperback, $34.95

Sometimes when you pick up a book or read a post claiming to be a “guide,” it can fall short of being a functional step-by-step instruction manual on the actual mechanics of the topic. This is not the case with “The Vertical Veg Guide to Container Gardening” by Mark Ridsdill Smith.

The book is replete with photos and captions, which add to the practical, hands-on and actionable gardening tips and tasks. Throughout, the author provides words of encouragement and well-advised cautions in addition to tips, experiments, anecdotes and advice.

Ridsdill Smith states that within the first year of gardening in his very small urban growing space he was able to grow 184 pounds of food. He goes on to provide a breakdown of what was grown, how much he harvested and the cost savings in comparison to buying the same items at the store. He encourages starting simply and repurposing or recycling to keep costs down. The book covers everything … and, I do mean everything anyone starting a small garden can possibly need to know. This includes sun, shade, seeds, containers, permits, watering, tools, making your own growing media, fertilizers, and collecting and recycling water.

The author lives in England and the guide is written using terminology that may not be familiar. Having spent time in England and Wales years ago, I was well acquainted with the terms used, i.e., allotments (membership-driven garden spaces), courgettes (yellow squash), aubergines (eggplant), and the council (city/town government). For measurements in his seed starting, seedling mix and fertilizer recipes, he was kind enough to include both metric and standard measurements.

His garden not only feeds his family, it encourages engagement and interaction within his community. In that way, feeding means much more than the consumption of food. Like Ridsdill Smith, I encourage you to grow your own, no matter the amount of space you have. “The Vertical Veg Guide to Container Gardening” is sure to become a well referenced guide to growing in small spaces.

Ivonne Vazquez, Bas Rouge Farm & Forge, Orono, Maine

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