Fabulous Fern’s “Small-Space Container Gardens”

A couple of weeks ago, Fern Richardson sent me her book — [amazon_link id=”1604692413″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Small-Space Container Gardens: Transform Your Balcony, Porch, or Patio with Fruits, Flowers, Foliage, and Herbs[/amazon_link] — to review.

 I know a thing or two about balcony gardening. Not only have I gardened on balconies for years but I also wrote the Toronto Star’s “Condo Gardening” column from May 2006 to January 2009. And I have to tell you upfront, this is a great resource book for balcony and small space gardeners. Fern Richardson knows her stuff.

 

What makes this book so special?

 The book is written from first-hand experience. From choosing containers and furniture to dealing with the vagaries of balcony microclimates, the advice and observations are spot-on.

Despite my protests to the contrary, I would often hear the murmurs of sympathy over no gardening space when I mentioned I lived in a condo. I am happy to say that Fern blasts this paradigm out of the water by outlining the many kinds of garden possibilities:

 Wildlife garden

Kitchen garden: growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs

Succulent garden

Scented paradise

Tropical oasis.

Fern depicts these gardens better than most garden writers. Not only does she suggest the type of plants you can grow in each of these gardens (including plant hardiness zone range and growing conditions), but she also includes a practical and realistic design.

The photographs of different balcony and small space gardens throughout the book also inspire the would-be balcony gardener. Good photographs turn possibilities into reality.

The book is extremely well written, with a lively easy-to-read style. It’s almost as if Fern is sitting next to you and talking to you.

Any drawbacks?

I scoured the book for any inconsistencies or dubious information. Because that’s what inquiring minds do. My quibbles are minor.

 It’s a small thing, but the editors choice of very large type at the beginning of each section followed by the much smaller body text was a little disconcerting…the size difference between the two fonts are too large.

And regarding Bt (Bacillius thuriengenis), caterpillars don’t die of starvation 2-3 days after ingesting leaves being sprayed with Bt (p. 166). It’s a lot more grisly than that. Sure, the caterpillars stop feeding a couple of hours of eating Bt, but it’s the Bt toxin and spores that finish off the caterpillars by punching holes in the caterpillars gut lining and then madly multiplying throughout the caterpillar’s body. The caterpillars die from massive bacterial infection. Gruesome. Horrific. I take it back, saying that the caterpillars starve to death seems a lot more wholesome.

The bottom line

I can honestly say that Fern Richardsons Small Space Container Gardens is the best book on balcony gardening on the market today. I highly recommend this book to all small space gardeners (novice or expert).

Full Title of the book:

Richardson, Fern. [amazon_link id=”1604692413″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Small-Space Container Gardens. Transform your Balcony, Porch, or Patio with Fruits, Flowers, Foliage & Herbs[/amazon_link]. Timber Press, Portland, 2012.

Fern Richardson’s Blog: Life on the Balcony


Written by Cristina da Silva
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 in Book & Product Reviews

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