More is good right? Who wouldn’t want more of something? Well how about more vegetables than you ever thought possible? Sounds a bit like an infomercial line, right? But in this case it does have merit. Yes, it is a bit of an exaggeration, but you really can grow more vegetables with the method explained in How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine. (See I always imagined my veggie garden to be huge anyway) What John Jeavons introduces you to in this unassuming looking book is a technique called biointensive gardening. Biointensive gardening is comprised of the following techniques: Bed preparation with double digging, abandoment of row plantings in favor of hexagon or triangular patterns that utilize more space, companion planting and crop rotation, fertility to carbon calorie farming, composting, use of open pollinated seeds and cover crops. By utilizing all of these techniques you too can grow more vegetables.
At first glance it all sounded a bit labor intensive to me when I looked at all I needed to do, but it really wasn’t when I considered I was already doing most of it anyway. I was already composting and using open pollinated seeds when possible. I always enjoyed planting vegetables with their friends rather than their enemies. I was, however, still planting in rows and hadn’t really thought about planting for compost. Plus with a ratio of 60% of your land being used for compost crops, I knew I would have to give somewhere.
Although the book claims you have to use all of the techniques in conjunction with each other, I didn’t. Guess what? I still had a great harvest. Where I cut corners was in the composting. Rather than grow my compost, I built it in the compost bin and utilized that throughout the garden. What I found to be the most helpful for me was the bed size adjustment. By having smaller beds you can really work them less often because you aren’t stepping all over them. Also by planting things closer I cut down on the need for mulching and needed much less water. The plants’ leaves would shield the roots of the other plants from the sun. At first I thought this close proximity would lead to an increased pest infestation or more problems with powdery mildew. But both problems were in line with what I had experienced in previous years. Best of all, the method is completely organic. By building your soil and increasing the number of beneficial insects in your yard the biointensive method allows you to garden naturally.
Common Ground is the biggest proponent of the biointensive movement. You can learn more about them and their methodology in the video below:
Who should you gift this book to: Anyone interested in organic vegetable gardening or mini farming.