Book review: "Any Size, Anywhere Edible Landscaping"

"Any Size, Anywhere Edible Landscaping: The No Yard, No Time, No Problem Way to Grow Your Own Food" by William Moss (Cool Springs Press, 200 pages, $21.99)
by Susan Mulvihill

As a long-time proponent of growing your own food, I'm always on the lookout for books that will get both beginning and experienced gardeners enthused about the subject. "Any Size, Anywhere Edible Landscaping" immediately caught my eye since gardening should be an option no matter how little space there is for growing plants.

Author William Moss discusses the benefits of growing your own food: it's a healthy activity, we get to eat more nutritious food, it can be a money-saver, we have control over how the food was grown, we can grow more varieties and we get a lot of personal satisfaction from it.

He stresses how important it is to both analyze your garden site to provide plants with the most ideal setting and to build the soil. He devotes space to good practices that will keep plants healthy so the garden is productive.

Moss emphasizes the importance of following sustainable practices, having diversity in the garden through intercropping, recycling and composting materials, and avoiding the use of chemicals except when absolutely necessary. Other important topics include the best time to water plants, organic practices and good cultural practices to avoid pest and disease problems.

One of his helpful tips is to grow smaller amounts of a crop rather than having everything ripen at once or to use succession-planting methods.

This book covers all sorts of small gardens -- containers, community garden plots, yard space, patios or balconies, raised beds, window boxes and vertical gardening.

The discussion on vertical gardening was one area he expanded on. We tend to think of hanging baskets, trellises and arbors but Moss included green walls -- also known as living walls -- where plants can either grow up them or grow inside modular units attached to a wall. He feels herbs would grow particularly well in these units.

His time-saving tips include the use of mulch, drip irrigation or sprinklers on timers to conserve water and decrease or eliminate the amount of time spent on hand-watering; choosing low-maintenance crops like potatoes, onions and peppers; using raised beds; and growing disease-resistant varieties.

Moss also goes through the particulars of growing each type of vegetable crop, from beans to tomatoes, with many recommendations of good varieties. A lot of space -- 44 pages! -- is dedicated to growing tomatoes which is certainly everyone's favorite veggie.

I think this book would make an excellent choice for both beginning and experienced gardeners. It covers all of the topics vital to the success of an edible garden and the material is presented in an enthusiastic, easy-to-understand format.