73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden

by Niki Jabbour, illustrations by Anne Smith, Elayne Sears and Mary Ellen Carsley

Storey Publishing

2014, 272 pages, 8 x 10 x 0.8 inches (softcover)

$15 Buy a copy on Amazon

Fittingly, the layout of Groundbreaking Food Gardens is similar to a community garden. Within the landscape of this one book, readers find 73 distinct plots, each neatly contained, each with its own character in the beds of text and image. In it, edible gardening expert Niki Jabbour curates 73 thematically diverse illustrated plans contributed by master food growers and writers with unendingly fresh perspectives. Each mini-chapter opens with three or four cornerstones of the design therein, and these points become headers for each section, like garden markers for the reader.

Even the most bibliophilic gardener has to admit, it's hard to find a good gardening book that says or does something new. But within the first 24 hours of bringing home Groundbreaking Food Gardens, I had filled it with every bit of scrap paper in our bookmark pile. Though more of a design lookbook than a how-to, it still offers plenty of information. Woven throughout the plans, there are both practical tips and historical gardening factoids to appeal to new and seasoned gardeners alike. You wouldn't use a bean pole to support a squash, and so the scaffolding of each design chapter changes slightly to reflect the 73 unique concepts. Colby Eierman's "Backyard Orchard" walks you through espaliering a fruit tree while Wendy Kiang-Spray's "Asian Vegetables" chapter focuses on familiarizing us with 28 varieties of, you guessed it, Asian vegetables. Because each design focuses on a particular interest or challenge (lack of space, lots of space, kid-friendly, wildlife-welcoming, one of everything, all garlic, all the time), I've been having fun daydreaming about taking bits and pieces of each plan to fit my particular gardening needs and wants (which are, let's be honest, all the gardens).

Practically speaking, for those of us who don't have the time or money to completely transform our outdoor spaces all at once, starting out with Jayme Jenkins's ingenious "Hanging Gutters" garden or improving current plots with Laura Henderson's tips on water collecting and succession planting will keep our hands dirty while dreaming of recreating Mac Mead's half-acre "Biodynamic Farm." Whether you have a perennial green thumb or just some dirt under your fingernails from the basil on your window sill, you'll find inspiration in Groundbreaking Food Gardens.

– Marykate Smith Despres