Garden Book: Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail

Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail book cover.png
Before the term “garden blog” was even coined there was Gayla Trail’s You Grow Girl. A few years back when I discovered the internet was good for things besides playing online games I stumbled upon You Grow Girl. While the site and blog seemed to be populated mostly by hip, urban and crafty young women, the subtitle for the blog, “Gardening for the People,” resonated with me so I stuck around to read the blog and eventually participate in the forums and became a fanboy. Around this time it was still pretty novel for a blogger to go from blogging to being a published author or pop culture personality, so the fact that Gayla Trail went from being a “blogger” to an author fascinated me. The You Grow Girl book was soon added to my personal gardening book library. 
Of Gayla’s first book, the Publishers Weekly’s Editorial Review on Amazon says: “…there isn’t much “groundbreaking” advice here-the book itself is a competent guide to getting a little dirt under your fingernails.”  What was groundbreaking about the book (and blog it was spun from) was the populist gardening tone and appeal to younger gardeners. For the first time younger gardeners had an author they could relate to, that explained gardening wasn’t hard-it was easy, fun and an outlet for creative types. Gayla’s second book, Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces will be available February 2, 2010. After spending the afternoon pouring over the beautifully photographed and illustrated 205 pages of my review copy of the book, I think it should’ve been subtitled “Edible Gardening for the People.”
Like Bob Flowerdew’s Grow Your Own Eat Your Own, Grow Great Grub presents edible gardening in a way that is accessible to all; particularly people with limited space and finances. Within the pages of Grow Great Grub you won’t find fruits and vegetables growing in fancy containers, you will find them growing in items you may have around your house like: buckets, pails, wooden boxes and tin cans. 
Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail inside pages.png
The conversational tone of the text demystifies mulching, composting and fertilizers without talking down to the reader. The section on garden pests and plant diseases will help vegetable gardeners identify common problems without resorting to harsh chemicals. DIYers will appreciate projects like the no-till raised-bed, self-irrigation container (homemade version of the Grow Box & EarthBox) and trashcan potatoes. Cooks and foodies will appreciate recipes like roasted zucchini dip, root vegetable fries and the cold cucumber, mint and yogurt soup that is making my mouth water while typing this. There is even a section on canning and preserving and extending your garden harvest (printable canning labels available in back of book). Newbie gardeners will appreciate the advice on choosing containers, companion plantings, seed starting and planting chart, a chart for predicting when your crops will be ready to harvest and the planting advice.
What kinds of vegetables are covered in the book? The usual suspects (beans, greens, peas, cucubrits, alliums, peppers, brassicas and more) that you’d want to grow in your edible garden. There are also suggestions for more unusual edibles and root vegetables, which in my opinion don’t get enough attention in the vegetable garden.Then there are the fruits like blueberries, citrus containers, currants and gooseberries, melons along with herbs and edible flowers.
Just like You Grow Girl came along at a time when younger gardeners needed a writer that spoke to them, Grow Great Grub is being published at the perfect time. The surge vegetable gardening has recently experienced, for better or worse, is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Younger, “casual gardeners” will appreciate having so much information condensed into one book. The information is presented in a fun and casual manner that doesn’t talk down to the reader, making the information easy to understand and retain. It is like getting gardening advice from your friend who has been gardening for a years and is happy you’re finally jumping on the bandwagon. While the book is targeted at people with limited space like patios, rooftops and balconies; the information is sound and can be applied to those with larger back or front yards who want to grow fresh food. Lastly, I want to mention the book’s design because good gardening books are common, but well-designed gardening books are rare. The book’s design is wonderful, probably the most beautiful book on vegetable gardening I’ve ever seen. 
Grow Great Grub is published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of The Crown Publishing Group and will retail for $19.99 in the U.S. when it becomes available in February 2010.  You can visit You Grow Girl or follow the author on Twitter. Visit the Grow Great Grub website to preview the book and preorder.


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  • MBT - my younger sister started gardening last summer and since we didn't come from a gardening family, she needed a lot of help. I provided as much as I could over the phone but come Christmas time I couldn't wait to get her a copy of "Grow Great Grub." It was then that I realized it hadn't even been released yet. So, I sent her "You Grow Girl", instead. A good friend gave me a copy of this book when I first started gardening and I found it so helpful. Exactly as you described it. As soon as "Grow Great Grub" is released, I plan to get a copy for myself, and for my little sister. I can't wait!

    ps Lucky you getting to review this early!

  • In reply to ginthom:

    Hi Gina,

    Your sister should love it. I remember you saying your sister got into gardening last summer. That's awesome! When you get the book, let me know what you think.

  • In reply to ginthom:

    Thanks for the tip on Gayla's new book. Now I know what to do with the rest of my Amazon gift certificate!

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    We should get the Chicago area garden bloggers together and see if we can't get her to come to Chicago to promote the book.

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    Your Review has served it's purpose, I want this book, and can't wait to buy it. i feel it will be a great reference, a great read and by the pictures you've posted a coffee table book as well..

    If i can do anything to help in getting Ms. Gayla Trail to come to Chicago and promote her book, I'm all for it.

  • In reply to alexander:


    Since you're new to gardening this book would probably be very useful for you. Especially since your interest is in growing food.

  • In reply to alexander:

    I was reading your post and just wanted to see if you

  • In reply to tomatotaster:


    I'm so sorry I didn't reply to this comment. I didn't get notified about it. Anyway, I have heard of the Grow Box & the Earth Box. They both seem to work really well.

  • In reply to alexander:

    Did you know the author took every photo in the book and actually formatted the entire book herself? Smart publisher to have her do it herself.

    It is a beautiful book and I consult it almost daily. Heard Crate & Barrel will be carrying along with Anthopologie (sp??).

  • In reply to PrairieGarden:


    Hi. Yeah, I know Gayla and Gavin did all of the design stuff, which makes the book even more impressive, IMO. Thanks for signing up to comment. I appreciate it.

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