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1 Book Available
Will Bonsall’s Essent... BGE-1336


Innovative Techniques for Growing Vegetables, Grains, and Perennial Food Crops with Minimal Fossil Fuel and Animal Inputs
Will Bonsall, 2015, 385 pp

Every chapter has practical, well-proven techniques that you can put to use right away in your own garden. Examples: A mulching method that keeps squash bugs out of your squash.  A way to use wood chips that builds up your soil and doesn't rob nitrogen. Which plants really work best together and why.      

Our horticulturist read this cover to cover at least twice as soon as it came out.  She says it is the only really useful information on companion planting that she has ever seen. Will Bonsall's explanation of which crops work well together actually enables you to get two big harvests from one space--something that other systems promise but don't deliver. 

 The sections are Soil Fertility, beginning with “Composting as if it mattered”; The Seed, which is all about plant breeding; The Crops, with everything you need to know about growing your own food, including a section on oilseeds (something of a serious lack in many self-reliance plans); The Garden in Context (Rocks, Water and Land; Smaller Footprints, Pests and Diseases (see excerpt below); and finally Using the Harvest (Milling, Baking and Sprouting, and Freezing, Fermenting, and More); and some more stuff at the end. 

 “…   I could list one soil disease pathogen after another and the remedy would be basically the same, Create a vibrant and diverse living soil community and they will defend their own interests far better than you can. Without them your poisons are a feeble defense that must be used over and over to correct the very problems they’ve created.   I would reemphasize that when I speak of high humus levels I’m describing a condition that cannot be created by adding any amount of short-lived organic matter. Animal manure, and even straw-based compost, cannot by itself supply that stable soil community that is nourished by forest-based materials, especially chipped ramial wood.    Okay, but all that being said, there are other things you can do to alleviate damage: perhaps the most common is sanitation…”  

At Bountiful Gardens we have found that many gardeners starting to save seed find the concept of crossing challenging to understand. This is one small part of how Will explains it, which I still find very helpful, in his wonderfully practical earthy manner.  

“When saving seed it’s helpful to know what species of plants we are dealing with. I mean, it’s always nice to know, but with outcrossers it’s critical. (my emphasis) Moreover it’s not always obvious…  A different example: Beets are Beta vulgaris and chards are Beta vulgaris, too, so we know they can cross. Never mind that we see them as two distinct vegetables; they see each other as bed partners. If we wish to keep these two drops uniform and predictable, we must make sure they do not flower in the same garden at the same time - We have to isolate them from each other. Likewise the species Brassica oleracea - The vegetables kale, cabbage, collards, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, broccoli and cauliflower are merely races of the same species, and they will interbreed readily if you let them.”  

“Will’s book is a great introduction to gardening for the beginner, and it also offers enough brand-new original material to delight even the most expert. Best of all, the interweaving of Will’s coherent personal philosophy, decades of gardening experience, down-to-earth style, and touches of humor all make for an interesting, entertaining read.” Carol Deppe, author of The Tao of Vegetable Gardening and The Resilient Gardener.   Ship Wt = 31 oz.

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