grow great grub

Like I said last month, book reviews aren’t really the emphasis of this site, but we’ll make exceptions. Since Grow Great Grub has inspired me to launch past my existing gardening attempts (i.e., beautiful summer tomatoes and a sad Meyer lemon tree) into the world of potted herbs (stay tuned!), I thought you might like to hear about it, too.

I was so excited to get a review copy of this book because the whole point of it is that not only can you garden anywhere, but also you can grow food anywhere —even in the city, even in a small space. Rather than fancy pots or planters, you’ll see gorgeous photos of seeds sprouting in repurposed tins, wooden crates, trash cans, even toilet paper rolls in this book. There’s attention given to making these creative gardens aesthetically pleasing as well as practical, which anyone in a small space would recognize as important and which I think makes the process seem much more approachable and worth trying.

grow great grub inside

The Author:
I love reading about bloggers who became authors, particularly ones who were blogging when I was in high school, which was a time when, let’s be honest, I didn’t know what a blog was. That’s exactly the story of Gayla Trail, who has grown her site (launched February 2000) into a community of modern gardeners filled with forums and articles, as well as written two books: You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening and now Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces.

The Book:
This paperback book is filled with full-color, gorgeous images, mostly taken by Gayla herself (preview pages here). It’s organized into sections such as a primer on gardening, information on different types of plants (vegetables, fruit, herbs/edible flowers) and tips on harvesting (including a chapter on canning/preserving).

Meyer lemon tree

What This Means for Me:
As I said above, I’m going to try growing herbs. This makes me nervous (lemon tree, anyone?) but I think it’s the safest place to start. In the FAQ section of the book’s Web site, Gayla addresses the question of where to get started in small-space gardening, particularly if you’re new: “Herbs are generally low maintenance and will thrive in small spaces. They also provide the biggest windfall for the least amount of work….Growing indoors on a windowsill presents a larger challenge so I would suggest beginning with resilient herbs that will tolerate less-than-ideal conditions. Thyme, oregano, marjoram, Cuban oregano, chives, cress, and sage all do well in a sunny window.”

Bonus! Free Canning Labels!
One more thing! On Gayla’s site, there’s a free PDF, featuring labels for mason jars, perfect for canning. Check it out here.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. MaryAnn

    Sounds like a very interesting read. I’ve been considering attempting a tiny container garden myself this year. Good luck with your herbs!

  2. My First Kitchen

    Yesssss. I, too, tend to kill green things. I have, however, had marginal success with an herb garden, so I’m pretty sure you’ll rock it. Loving this review though. After seeing Food Inc, I’m all about stopping the Excuse Train and planting a vegetable garden in my back yard. This book will be a wonderful help. Done and done.

  3. Lisa

    Oh, I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve been thinking about growing some herbs and I live in a city as well (possibly one with less light and even dreary days than Chicago). I’ve grown basil, cilantro and parsley both successfully and unsuccessfully in my parents backyard but I have yet to have any luck A. growing from seeds B. growing in Binghamton C. growing inside in containers. (I have some kale frozen in time in the pot on my balcony right now. I planted it too late and it just never grew and I can’t bring myself to get rid of it).
    Reading this though made me decide if you are going to get over the lemon tree incident then I can surely get over my gardening fear and grow some herbs as well. So I’m totally with you on this. Hello 2010 I’m growing herbs.

    and for “My First Kitchen” in the comment above me- the “excuse train” hahhaha I love it!

  4. Jacqui

    i cannot wait for summer and a porch full of tomatoes and basil. if all goes well, that is, an i don’t kill the basil again.

  5. Celeste

    Alas I live in an apt and wish to have a garden. I dream of my grannies garden. Man alive, she grew asparagus. How cool is that. I do grow herbs. I have tried to grow some from seed.
    I am like a fussy garden parent the way I hover and pray over those spindly seedlings. I have given up in the past and gone straight to the Home Depot to but a starter plant.
    The trouble with that (or maybe not) is that I end up purchasing much more.
    I love green…

  6. Emily

    Thanks for the review. I am so tempted by this one, I must admit… Good luck with your herb growing!

  7. Kim

    This sounds like a great book. I always say I want to garden, but use my lack of space as an excuse. It is encouraging to see people gardening in tiny places!

  8. Shannalee

    MaryAnn, Thanks and I hope you try it, too!

    My First Kitchen, (a) thank you for making me feel better about my lack of green thumb (b) and for making me think I can really do this herb thing. Fingers crossed!! and ps – I really need to see Food, Inc. Really.

    Lisa, Well, good! We will inspired each other, sound good? First step: getting the herbs!

    Jacqui, That sounds absolutely perfect.

    Celeste, Ooohh you can buy them already planted? That is awfully tempting…

    Emily, Thank you! If it goes well, you can be sure I’ll post about it!

    Kim, Right? I totally agree. This is my herb year (I hope).

  9. Kim Shenberger

    Shanna! I found you! I found you!

    (now that I’ve done my happy-happy dance, it will be really embarrassing if you don’t remember me!)

    I was reading an old post on my blog and read a comment you had left. I knew that you had quit blogging, but I wistfully clicked on your link and voila!

    I’m subscribing and looking forward to catching up with you!

    Kim from Hiraeth

  10. Kim Shenberger

    What an AWESOME blog! I LOVE it!!!

  11. Jacqui

    I just received my copy of this book in the mail! I was so excited I’m already half way through and can’t wait to get a little garden started on my little apartment porch! The toilet paper idea is genius!

  12. Shannalee

    Kim! You found me, you found me! Of course I remember you – you are one of my first and sweetest blog friends ever. So glad to be back in touch – thanks for commenting!!

    Jacqui, Cool – glad you’re reading it, too. PS just checked out your blog and subscribed!

  13. my spatula

    how crazy, shanna…i had JUST put this book into my cart on amazon last week. we love growing our own herbs – so fun and so rewarding. our favorite method is the use of a mini herb greenhouse, where you can literally (and easily) produce 50 plants at once!

  14. Shannalee

    giao – crazy! it doesn’t surprise me at all that you have a mini herb greenhouse – you are amazing!

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