Vertical Vegetable Gardening - A Must-Read for Any and All Gardeners

Vertical Vegetable Gardening: A Living Free Guide by Chris McLaughlin
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: ALPHA (December 31, 2012)
ISBN: 978-1615641833

If you're an experienced gardener, you're probably accustomed to thinking about your spring garden throughout the winter months.  But if you're new to gardening, like I am, it's probably been the furthest thing from your mind.  In either case, Chris McLaughlin's latest book release, Vertical Vegetable Gardening, is sure to become a favorite resource for anyone who is planning their next garden.

As a Master Gardener, McLaughlin has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. Her vested interest in gardeners as well as gardens is evident in her writing as she conveys, "the whole point of gardening is to grow things, and a gardener's personal growth is perhaps the most important."  McLaughlin's insights and enthusiasm shared in Vertical Vegetable Gardening left me feeling excited and confident to begin my gardening adventure.

This book surprised me in a couple of ways.  First of all, I was naively uncertain that "vertical gardening" was the first topic I wanted to read about gardening.  I thought I had so much more to learn about gardening basics first.  What I discovered, however, is that I wouldn't want to begin gardening without the information provided in Vertical Vegetable Gardening. McLaughlin aptly describes the advantages of vertical gardening and includes valuable information on preparing garden beds and composting; various garden structures and containers; the basics of soil and seed; how to tend the garden; amendments and pest control; and which fruits, herbs and vegetables enjoy "growing up."

The second surprise for me was how so much gardening information could be included in such a short and easy read. McLaughlin's work is so organized and easy to digest that it makes a complex subject (to me) seem easy and manageable. She peppers the pages with helpful "Good to Know" and "Downer" sidebars, photos and illustrations.  With a thorough glossary, resource pages, and index, Vertical Vegetable Gardening is not merely a book; it is a gardening manual.

Even though I'm an inexperienced gardener, I've read enough magazine articles and blogs to realize that McLaughlin offers some creative and innovative ideas for gardening.  A real eye-opener for me was her section on "The Magic of Microclimates."  I've looked at Growing Zone Maps most of my life.  (I have done my share of planting flowers and shrubs.) I always thought those zones were sort of set in stone, but McLaughlin explains how "no one else's climate is exactly like yours--even if it's in your own neighborhood." She gives suggestions for how you can manipulate your microclimates and maybe gain a longer growing season and include some plants that you previously thought you couldn't grow in "your zone."

I'll be putting most, if not all, of McLaughlin's techniques to practice in my new kitchen garden this spring.  I've already started by framing the garden and making some "compost sandwiches" (pp. 117-119).  Be sure to come back and follow along as my garden unfolds.

I can't say enough good things about Chris McLaughlin's Vertical Vegetable Gardening.  I'm so glad I read it; it will continue to be a reference for my gardening projects; and I would recommend it as a must-read to any and all gardeners.

Update (August 13, 2013):  Months after reading McLaughlin's book, and now having grown my vertical vegetable garden, I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. You can read about it from start to finish in my gardening series, and see it "live" in this video:

Vertical Vegetable Gardening is available at Amazon and all other major book sellers beginning December 31, 2012.  You can visit Master Gardener Chris McLaughlin on her website  You can also follow her on Facebook.

Other books by Chris McLaughlin:

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  1. You and Chris have inspired me to create a bigger, better, taller veggie garden! Thank you!

    1. Well I know I'm inspired Becky! Chris has been a great inspiration to me! Thanks for you. I'll be anxious to see all our gardens this coming summer! Thanks for your comment.

  2. Katie ~ Thank you very much for this wonderful review ~ You have no idea how much it's appreciated!

    1. I LOVED the book! I learned so much from it. I'm jazzed!

  3. Wonderful book review and Congratulations Chris <|;-)