By a happy accident, I stumbled upon the 1982 copy of Square Foot Gardening. I was very pleased with his concept. However, having a full acre but not a tiller, I was even more pleased when I came across his All New Square Foot Gardening. "What an ingenious method!" thought I. No $50 fee for a tiller and borrowing a truck and all that mess! That's until I tried to actually put it into practice. Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic concept, and it works very well and you should get this book if you want to garden smarter not harder, but there are a few hiccups I wanted other readers to know about before they got started.
For those of you who have not perused the book or are familiar with the new method, I'll sum it up for you: you build these four by four boxes--no tilling required--cover the bottom with weed blocker material, and then fill it with a particular mix that Mel says works like a dream. The boxes are easy, the method is brilliant, but the mix was a different story. 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 vermiculite, agricultural gauge, which means chunky bits of vermiculite, not fine.
And the vermiculite--at least for stateside gardening--has proven very hard to find. He makes it sound like a breeze, but it wasn't. I had to finally order the finely ground vermiculite from a pool supply company. They use it instead of sand to cushion above-ground pool bottoms instead of sand. (I am anxious to hear from anyone in the UK who has looked for this material and how difficult it was to find).
Other than finding the vermiculite--which we finally did in fine grade for $28 for four boxes--I've rarely seen a more reader-friendly book! It comes complete with layout pages, very consise planting guides, even planting time tables for your area and the amount of time you can store your seeds! If you have never gardened before or started a garden that eventually left you frustrated, then this is the book for you! I just think that you should check your area for agricultural grade vermiculite before you buy the book. But once that little snafu is over, you are going to be amazed at how brilliant and easy this book makes successful gardening.
I highly recommend this method for busy people and parents like myself. It is wonderfully easy to maintain, makes loads of produce, and looks very attractive. Two green thumbs way, way up. I especially recommend it to UK gardeners because of the small gardening space that is available to them. It is extremely compact and works quite well in small spaces.
To see my boxes and my experience with the All New Square Foot Gardening method, check out my frugal/tipping blog at http://moness.blogspot.com.