Book Review: “Gardening When It Counts”

Today we worked outside planting lettuce, fertilizing the roses and fruit trees, and treating the yard with a natural fertilizer from Gardens Alive. We also turned the soil over in the garden beds and I applied an organic fertilizer that was derived from poultry manure, bloodmeal, and potash. I need to get some lime as well. Our soil tends to be acidic which is good for the blueberries, but not so good for the rest of the garden produce and field grasses.

A book I started reading back in December is by Steve Solomon and called, Gardening When It Counts. The subtitle is “Growing Food in Hard Times.” This is a very practical book. In the book’s introduction, Solomon writes about the “coming hard times.” Although the book was published in 2005, he sensed that with the price of oil going higher and higher, and the housing bubble on the verge of bursting, that an economic crisis was just around the corner. It appears he as well as many others, was right.

Solomon gardens because he wants to grow much of what his family eats. He started a seed business called Territorial Seed Company back in 1979. He ran his mail order seed business from his 5 acre homestead and grew and tested and ate the produce from the seeds he sold. He subsequently wrote several gardening books on intensive gardening. He also began experimenting with row gardening in such a way so as to not need irrigation. That is to say, he tried gardening the old – fashioned way and basically let the rain do all the watering. He found that one could actually grow a garden without having to use so much water, which is what one usually has to do with intensive, raised-bed gardening. He found that even in places that receive limited rainfall, you could still have a productive garden. The book he wrote on this subject is Waterwise Vegetables, which is now out of print. He now lives in Australia and gardens using his own method of semi-intensive beds and plant spacing which allows the growth of the plants to mature using less water. In short, he has figured out how to grow the most nutritious and productive vegetables using minimal resources. He has a fantastic natural fertilizer recipe, tells the reader how to make all kinds of compost, and explains how to start a garden with the barest of means, and then how to enrich even the poorest soil. I have to say that if I could only have one book on gardening, I would have this one. It is actually one of the best ones I have ever read. It is not fancy and there are not any pretty color photos (though I sure would like to see what his current place looks like), but there are helpful diagrams and 323+ pages of pure gardening wisdom. You can start knowing nothing about what you are doing and probably actually grow a nice garden in a year’s time, just going on what this man tells you.

So I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what a garden really needs and how to grow a productive one. Get your copy now while you still have a little time before you need to get those plants in the ground! I got mine at

Blessings to all,


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