Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting

Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting

by R.J. Ruppenthal


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Books on container gardening have been wildly popular with urban and suburban readers, but until now, there has been no comprehensive "how-to" guide for growing fresh food in the absence of open land. Fresh Food from Small Spaces fills the gap as a practical, comprehensive, and downright fun guide to growing food in small spaces. It provides readers with the knowledge and skills necessary to produce their own fresh vegetables, mushrooms, sprouts, and fermented foods as well as to raise bees and chickens—all without reliance on energy-intensive systems like indoor lighting and hydroponics.

Readers will learn how to transform their balconies and windowsills into productive vegetable gardens, their countertops and storage lockers into commercial-quality sprout and mushroom farms, and their outside nooks and crannies into whatever they can imagine, including sustainable nurseries for honeybees and chickens. Free space for the city gardener might be no more than a cramped patio, balcony, rooftop, windowsill, hanging rafter, dark cabinet, garage, or storage area, but no space is too small or too dark to raise food.

With this book as a guide, people living in apartments, condominiums, townhouses, and single-family homes will be able to grow up to 20 percent of their own fresh food using a combination of traditional gardening methods and space-saving techniques such as reflected lighting and container "terracing." Those with access to yards can produce even more.

Author R. J. Ruppenthal worked on an organic vegetable farm in his youth, but his expertise in urban and indoor gardening has been hard-won through years of trial-and-error experience. In the small city homes where he has lived, often with no more than a balcony, windowsill, and countertop for gardening, Ruppenthal and his family have been able to eat at least some homegrown food 365 days per year. In an era of declining resources and environmental disruption, Ruppenthal shows that even urban dwellers can contribute to a rebirth of local, fresh foods.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781603580281
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Publication date: 11/05/2008
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,188,075
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

A licensed attorney and college professor, R. J. Ruppenthal has never given up on his gardening passion, even when his day jobs led him to a more urban life. He currently teaches at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, California, and lives and gardens in the San Francisco Bay area.

Table of Contents

1. Creating a food system for your space

2. Deciding what to grow in your garden space

3. How to buy or build productive vegetable containers

4. Using vertical space and reflected light

5. Starting transplants and cycling your crops

6. Growing fruit and berries in your spare space

7. Sprouting grains, beans, wheatgrass, and salad sprouts

8. Making yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods

9. Cultivating mushrooms

10. Raising chickens and honeybees in the city

11. Making compost and partnering with worms

12. Survival during resource shortages

13. Helping to build a sustainable future

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Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
LynnHarnett More than 1 year ago
You can't get much more local than your patio, and urban gardening enthusiast Ruppenthal looks after your pennies like they were his own. This slim volume is jam-packed with space and money-saving organic ideas, from the eminently practical to the slightly over-the-top. "A chicken coop or honeybee hive can fit on a sidewalk, a patch of lawn, or even a balcony.." In no time he'll have you growing sprouts on top of the refrigerator, mushrooms under the sink and making yogurt on your countertop. And this is in addition to all those delicious tomatoes, fruit trees, berries, cukes and beans you'll be growing in containers, trellises, and terraced plantings in former flower beds. Ruppenthal starts out with planning for your space, motivation, and light. He then delves deeply into soil mixes, making or adapting containers, seeds and transplants, fertilizer, timing, harvesting. Everything, in short, you need to get started. He doesn't hesitate to suggest other books he's found valuable and offers alternative ideas for gardeners of different skill levels, commitment and attitude. His enthusiasm is infectious and often dryly amusing. The microwave, for instance, is a handy gardening tool. "If anyone else in your household might object to cooking sawdust in the kitchen, then you might want to try this step when no one else is at home." His sneaky, hidden compost pile is nothing short of ingenious. Not just for the beginner, this quirky highly informative gardener's treat has ideas for every gardener, all of them direct from Ruppenthal's personal experience.
JonathanGorman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I keep flipping between 2 1/2 stars and three for this book. What finally tipped it was the fact that there's a nice set of notes for further reading. I've been looking for some more books on practical gardening but haven't been too successful. (I've only recently seriously started looking for). The best, strangely enough, is in the book "The Unprejudice Palate" by Angelo M. Pellegrini. This book almost fills that nitch, but lacks just a bit of information. It seems like it's good to start getting an idea of some things that can be done and has some useful notes for further reading which I will pursue.I think the book would have been better had some of the political and "survival" chapters had been greatly cut down or eliminated. There also seemed a weird balance of amount of space devoted to certain concepts. It seemed like there was almost as many pages devoted talking to how nutritious sprouts were to the space of actually growing them. A simple quotation or two would have sufficed. There were also occasionally talk about equipment that could be created, but I think I would most likely end up searching the Internet for detailed plans.It's not that I'm unsympathetic for the call to grow more locally. It's just that my motivations coming to the book stem more from being able to grow food that is expensive or usually lacking in quality at the store. (Tomatoes are a good example, so are many peppers). There's no reason to try to sell me in this particular book on the horrible looming oil crisis. I'd rather have seen a detailed plan for the self-watering containers. (There's some description and a "before" and "after" picture if I recall correctly).It almost would make it on my wishlist, but it's just a bit too little in the way of practical information. I'd like to see more on space usage (maybe drawings or plans of example spaces), which crops are the most nutritious, what unusual plants aren't sold in stores but might be easily grown and more things like that. I'm going to use this to add some books to my "to read" collection and maybe re-read a chapter in the spring when I see it at the library again.
flemmily on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an ideas book more than a how-to book. A lot of the advice is "go see your local plant nursery for advice."But it is still an interesting book, and a more practical galvanizer than Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
home-librarian More than 1 year ago
I recently decided to start growing a larger percentage of my own foods and to make an effort to eat more local foods. This book is a great guide for the beginner - it gives an intro into the crops, methodology, a small project for some crops, and ends with sources for the items discussed in the book. The only thing negative I could think of about this book is that it doesn't go very in depth about certain things like raising meat or honeybees, but it did give some info, several ideas and a list of resources if you are intrested. Overall I think this book was a worthwhile investment and it has become a part of my permanent book shelf, if for no other reason than the list of resources.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago