One Magic Square
Grow your own food in one square metre
Organic food plot designs for all seasons
The New Zealand Edition
One Magic Square is a comprehensive guide to growing your own food organically. An ideal book for those new to vegetable gardening, particularly those unsure how to take the first step and also a useful reference guide for the experienced food gardener.
Call to Action
On the very first page readers are invited to get outside and start digging – no fancy tools, expensive set up costs or mountains of information needed. Lolo Houbeins system works on food gardens one metre square in size. For those a little nervous about the whole thing or pushed for time starting with one plot is suggested. The number of squares can then be increased when required. Step by step she leads you through digging, planning, planting, feeding and harvesting your one magic square. All very simple.
The choice is yours
Houbein gives numerous specific planting plans for salad plots, curry plots, stir-fry, pasta, pizza, antioxidant, soup and anti-cancer plots along with many others. Each plot idea gives a list of vegetables to use, how and where you could plant them, how to feed and care for them, harvest and often ideas on what to do with the vegetables once they enter your kitchen. Many of the plots are interconnected and suggestions are made for plots that follow on from another. Plots are also specified for the various seasons.
The book continues with infomation on everything you could think of related to growing your own food from the politics of seed to compost making, rotation, companion planting, weed and pest control, watering, mulch and seed saving to name but a few.
The final part of the book is dedicated to growing guides for individual vegetables, herbs and fruit. Along with the run of the mill, less common vegetables and herbs are also included like celeriac, kale, kohlrabi, endive, stinging nettle and mustards. Ways to use each plant are often included along with the odd simple recipe.
The author clearly shines through in this book. One of the things I loved about it is it's clearly written by someone who lives and breaths what they are writing and has so many years experience and so much wisdom to offer. Houbein has lived through war and the resulting famine so truely knows the value of being able to produce your own food in a way few of us can imagine.
It has a rustic charm with photos of vegetables from a real organic garden rather than one perfectly primped and sprayed within an inch of it's life. It gives a guide to gardening without raised beds which while there is no denying they make great vege gardens, seem to have been treated as an essential element in recent times when they are not. Anyone can use this book, for a beginning gardener it simplifies and demystifies food gardening but there is a wealth of information for the experienced gardener also. I have been vege gardening for many years now but I will definately keep a copy of this on my book shelf for future reference. My only complaint is the list of abbreviations for additions to the soil which I found were distracting and interrupted the flow of the book in the first section. Also while it is a New Zealand addition it was apparent that it was not written specifically with New Zealand in mind and had the inevitable problem of covering what to plant when for such a wide area. It was pointed out however that gardeners need to be guided by their own conditions. These are both small points though in what is otherwise a really good guide to growing your own food in New Zealand and elsewhere.