Garden Books for Wannabe Urban Farmers

Garden Books for Wannabe Urban Farmers

These three books were recently sent to me by publishers to review. Instead of reviewing them individually, I’ll group them together in this post as they would be beneficial to urban gardeners interested in hobby farming, urban farming and growing their own in a kitchen garden.

Michael and Audrey Levatino are not farmers by profession, they have office jobs that they keep to pay the bills and hobby farm by growing and selling vegetables, flowers, eggs and honey.  The Joy of Hobby Farming offers practical advice for wannabe farmers who aren’t quite ready to give up their careers and take up farming full-time. There’s no romanticizing of hobby farming here, just the kind of advice you’d get from your farmer neighbor if you, um, lived next to a farmer and not next to a highrise. For example, did you know that cattle guards and horses don’t mix? Well, I didn’t either until I read about a horse who got caught in one and had to be put down.
Pick up The Joy of Hobby Farming if you need to learn things like how to build fences, cut down trees, what vegetables and flowers you should grow if you want to sell them at markets. A section of the book is also devoted to animals you’ll want to add to your farm and provides tips on buying and caring for them.
US $14.95 Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
Who is Graham Kerr? I have to admit I was not familiar with the “Galloping Gourmet” until his book, Growing at the Speed of Life, landed in my mailbox. I have since learned he’d written more than two dozen cookbooks and is kind of a big deal. This is in keeping with a recent trend in my online life. I seem to be making connections with people who know a thing or two about cooking, even though my diet consists of Flamin’ Hot chips and pizza. 
Growing at the Speed of Life chronicles the first year of Mr. Kerr’s kitchen garden after he decides to get serious about growing some of the things he’s spent a lifetime of cooking. The book is fun and light, just like Flamin’ Hot chips, and some of the 100 recipes provided make you want to lick your fingertips, just like, um, Flamin’ Hot chips. 60 vegetables, fruits and herbs are profiled in a way that makes it seem like you’re learning from someone who is also just getting started with his kitchen garden. Follow along as he gives advice that he gathers from his friends and grow some great vegetables, herbs and fruits and then cook them up in your kitchen.
US $27.00 Penguin. 

What can I say about this book beyond just “I love it.” When I first unwrapped it I was transported back to elementary school. The size, weight, smell and paper used for this book is just like the fun workbooks that accompanied so many boring textbooks growing up. Your Farm in the City is a garden book geared toward beginner gardeners in big cities who want to grow some of their own food using organic and sustainable methods. The usual cast of vegetables, herbs and fruits are profiled. You get advice on composting, building healthy soil, fertilizing, preserving and some garden design and layout. What makes this all unique is in the style in which is is presented is geared towards younger gardeners. There’s a good chunk of the book devoted to good and bad bugs and weeds. As someone who has been documenting the good and bad bugs in my garden I really appreciate this section. There’s a small section in the back with diagrams that show you how to turn a typical urban lot into your very own urban homestead. Your Farm in the City is written by Lisa Taylor and the gardeners at Seattle Tilth. 
US $18.95 Black Dog & Leventhal
These garden books were sent to me for free to consider reviewing. Besides the free books, no other form of compensation occurred or influence my thoughts on the books.
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  • So many wonderful books on growing food. Thanks for the reviews MBT! I remember Graham Kerr's show - good to see he's still around and doing good work.

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    The publishing industry sure is helping the backyard agriculture movement by putting out some decent books that are helping beginners get into the practice of growing some of their own food. I'm sure I don't even know about half of them.

  • I used to get my eggs (chicken, goose, duck) from a coworker with a "hobby farm" (which was a term I'd assumed she'd coined). My library has Your Farm in the City on order--it had me at the cover art and publishing co. name! I just hope that wonderful textbook smell remains by the time I get it (fourth hold).

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    Wow, there's four holds on the book? It must be more popular than I realize.

  • In reply to MrBrownThumb:

    Even though we're not urban (though people like to think we are), there is huge interest in growing your own food here and many people only have small spaces. For context, though, movies I request often have 350-400 holds.

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