28 February 2012

Size Matters according to Chris McLaughlin author of Small-Space Gardening

Chris McLaughlin is the author of three books for idiots: "Heirloom Vegetables", "Composting" and the newest addition, "Small-Space Gardening". 

According to her website, A Suburban Farmer, McLaughlin lives in  northern California on 5- acres. This newest book covers all the topics you need to know/understand to succeed in small space gardening.

Some of the reasons size matters: The space fills up quickly, small gardens can be re-invented in a weekend, vegetables are grown in containers or raised beds, and it is easy to do the work required to keep it up.
New gardeners will appreciate McLaughlin’s approach. Defined for them: What is shade/sun in your garden and how to measure it so you can select the correct plants; microclimates and how they effect your garden; cold frames and hoops to extend the seasons; greenhouses; and, other basics.
The author suggests that we think of a small space garden as being like a room to decorate. The floor consists of paths, grass and low growing plants. The walls include arbors, shrubs tree trunks, and trellises. The ceiling is the tree canopy or vines overhead.
She spends quite a few pages helping the reader understand how important it is to consider color in a small space to avoid a cluttered look and provides plenty of plant suggestions and combinations to meet any preferences.
The discussion of containers ranges from half-barrels to hanging baskets and old dressers.

Then, to address the growing medium, McLaughlin teaches the ins and outs of potting soil and improving native soil.

Portable raised beds can be purchased or built – instructions included in the book.

Gardening on a balcony, roof, fire escape, slope, or in a strong wind? It’s covered.

Whether your small space is hot, shady, wet or dry, you can always plant in containers or raised beds.

Vertical gardening uses arbors, trellises and pergolas. Fruits, vegetables and flowers can all be grown on them or in hanging containers.

Lots of fruits and vegetables are available in dwarf form and those are all ideal for small spaces.

Would you like to add the ambiance of water to your small space garden? How about bird baths, a wall fountain, bubbling table bowl or a small in-ground pond?

Plenty of plant advice accompanies all this great design talk.

As with all the Idiot books, it is environmentally sane - printed on newsprint without color photos. "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Small-Space Gardening sells for $20 list price and is available online for $14.

Published by Alpha, 330-pages, idiotsguides.com.


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