Series: All New Square Foot Gardening
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Cool Springs Press (March 15, 2016)
Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.5 x 10.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #673,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #134 in Books > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Gardening & Landscape Design > By Technique > Urban #497 in Books > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Gardening & Landscape Design > Vegetables #543 in Books > Reference > Encyclopedias & Subject Guides > Gardening
The concept behind High-Value Veggies is that many of us tend to grow vegetables in our gardens that are already mass-produced and inexpensively-purchased at the grocery stores or local markets. His suggestion is that we abandon the idea of growing those "low-value" crops and instead focus on the ones that are really pricey to buy. He proceeds to break it all down by inputs (tools and equipment, amendments, irrigation) as well as the cost of land and labour and then stacks them up against the potential return on investment (U.S. stats). All of this yields a top ten list of plant selections that Bartholomew profiles in more detail. There are definitely some edible plants that make more economical sense to grow than others!
Mel does it again! I'm a master gardener and certified square foot gardening instructor. I teach organic vegetable gardening classes for our local extension. There are many thinks that people can value when gardening, but a big one with organic vegetables is $$$$$! Return on Investment is a big driver for many people; if you only have so much room to grow organic food, it makes sense to grow the organic products that will cost you the most at the store; that is what will save you the most money. If you fill your garden with organic crops that you can buy at the store for pennies, and have no room left for the crops that will cost you dollars, then you're losing money. Mel gives you tools to conduct an analysis, but he's also done the work for you; the book contains lists of the least and most cost effective crops to grow, and includes many, many other lists of crops to grow if you value something other than money; nutrition, a fun childs garden, etc. Great book, great ideas!
I like the premise of this book, but in the end, I'm not sure an actual book was necessary to get the point across. We are in the process of planting square foot gardens this spring and love Mel's original book. We've even watched episodes of his PBS show on YouTube. I was a little disappointed in the cost comparisons because I didn't think they really took into account organic, which most people's home gardens will end up being. I think it's incredibly valuable to consider what the cost is of buying a vegetable or fruit versus cost of growing it, but I didn't really feel like the entire cost was considered. There's the initial cost of seeds or plants that is considered, but there's also the cost of water and the opportunity cost of the space you're planting that I didn't feel was well explored in the calculations. By opportunity cost, I mean that if you plant a watermelon in a spot, it takes the entire season for it to grow so you can harvest, but if you plant radishes in the spring, you could turn around and harvest them 30-45 days later and plant summer squash in the same spot for an autumn harvest. There's a cost to losing the spot to a watermelon all summer when you could be putting radishes and zucchini on your dinner table most of that same season from the same plot of land. Maybe I'm overthinking the complexity of the formula, but I do believe Mel has hit the nail on the head as far as ROI of gardening. If you can pick up organic kale from a local store or farmer's market for $1/bunch all summer long, growing your own doesn't have the same value as putting in a heritage tomato plant that produces $1.99/pound tomatoes for a couple months. Gardening is a smart choice, and gardening smart is a super smart choice.
Mel left us far too soon. This last book illustrates his wonderful engineering mind's ability to organize and present relevant facts about the relative value of homegrown vegetables. His kindness and generosity is evident in all his endeavors.
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