Book Review: Grow Great Grub

I ordered a couple of new gardening books this year as I usually do every year. It seems like I am usually disappointed with the books I’ve received in the past because the books never really say anything new or maybe it’s just that the pictures aren’t as good as they should be. Mostly it’s probably because the style the book is written in doesn’t fit me. But I have finally found a gardening book that fits me perfectly and it’s put together beautifully!

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces is a great book for beginners or intermediate gardeners geared towards those who want to do it organically and are working with smaller spaces. But even if you have the space, the book still applies to you- it’s just a bonus for those of you that want to do it on your deck. There are tips on what to grow, how to grow it, troubleshooting and oh yes, even recipes and long-term storage. The pictures will make you swoon first, and then make you jump online so you can order up everything from various seed stores so you can grow what she’s growing.

The author, Gayla Trail (@yougrowgirl on Twitter) won me over instantly in the introduction when she began talking about sustainability and urban farming in Cuba. I’ve known about this for a while now but I don’t think most people would have guessed how good the Cubans have it. She writes, “Right now, all over the world, urban gardeners are successfully contributing to local food economies in inspiring ways. In Havana, Cuba, a reported 50 to 80 percent of the city’s fresh produce is grown in urban gardens- all of it organically grown!” Think about that! The people of Havana, Cuba are eating better than most people in the U.S.! I don’t know about you, but I want to give my family the best and that is why we garden.

With this book, there are no excuses. Trail even has examples of things you can grow inside. One of her ideas is growing earthy sprouts indoors on a windowsill in a recycled container. I planted the seeds Sunday. . . it is now Tuesday. . . I am not even kidding you- look what happened in 48 hours:

I’m so excited! Soon I am going to have micro-greens to just snip and toss into my salad. Yum! Super easy and super healthy.

The author takes a lot of the guessing work out of it for you and makes numerous suggestions on what things to plant together. One combination I will be trying for sure is a suggestion shown on page 21: violas, strawberries and “Purple Ruffles” basil all in a strawberry jar. The look is very antiquated which I sometime like to go for but if that isn’t your style she has plenty of contemporary suggestions as well.

She tells you how to make new plants from cuttings (very easy), how to harden your seedlings off, how to grow an edible windbreak, how to understand light, and on and on and on. I guess what I like best about this book is she tells you the basics in plain English and then moves on. There aren’t entire chapters dedicated to each and every single pest problem, disease, etc. imaginable complete with Latin translations and all that other boring stuff. I get bored with that sort of thing. If I have a problem I Google it. I don’t dig out my gardening encyclopedias and search page after page. Also, I didn’t major in Latin or Botany for a reason- I have a short attention span!

This book is great for people who are creative, want to learn the basics or a little more about gardening and appreciate Rage Against the Machine and other musical references (there’s a section in Chapter 6 titled Know Your Enemy).

This is definitely going to turn into my worn-out “old stand-by” gardening book. I really do love it and highly recommend it. Now get growing!


  1. Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I so want this book. I started cilantro, sweet and purple basil, tomatoes, and bell peppers. I also had some pumpkin seeds from a pumpkin last year and wanted to see if they would grow. Ummm yea, they are sprouting away (wondering what I am in for). Now that I see that I don’t have to go and buy a whole bunch of pots, I will look around my house to find containers to use for transfer.

  2. Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Pumpkins are fun! We grew 15 last year and I loved each one for its uniqueness. I like growing the “Sugar Pie” variety for pumpkin pies and stuff.

  3. Posted April 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    I saw this book when I was at the library last week so I checked it out. I read pretty much the whole thing right away. It’s very simple and clear which is perfect for me since I’m in the process of starting my first garden.