Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gardening When it Counts by Steve Solomon

Should you want to be a self sufficient gardener and you have some time on your hands, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Gardening When it Counts by Steve Solomon. This book does a good job overviewing many of the techniques required to be able to live off the land, as long as your climate produces a moderate amount of rainfall. Though I do not agree with everything Steve Solomon says, I feel that he has very helpful thoughts on various subjects of gardening and the general ideas in his book are good.

A Definite Good Read, but filled with opinions

The general premise of Solomon’s book is that there may be a time in the future in which Gardeners are faced with an inadequate source of irrigated water and/or fertilizer but will most likely have access to seed and land. One of the chapters that covers this subject, entitled “Watering… and Not” includes a very helpful table with plant spacing (based on average rainfall) and plenty of helpful ideas when planning out growing vegetables with minimal water.

Along the same lines, another chapter entitled “What to Grow and How to Grow It” contains pictures of roots on a 1 foot grid from Weaver’s Root Development of Vegetable Crops. These root pictures are very helpful to gardeners because they show how to grow crops based on how their roots grow and the amount of space each root system requires. The “What to Grow” chapter also included some very helpful hints on growing, including what to expect from specific vegetable varieties and some information on inbreeding depression.

To refute a point Solomon makes about seed companies - my lettuce (lower right) is very strong viable
 seed from SESE while my beets (top right and barely visable) seem to be growing poorly from seed sold
by Territorial. Both packets were planted the first season after receiving seed packets and the beets received
 more sun. The germination of the beets was poor and I will have to work on this beet variety to keep it going.
Territorial has sold me some high quality seed in the past. I use this illustration only to make my point.

There is a chapter that highlights making a good balance of nutrients in the soil and another chapter that highlights the use of raised beds based on berms rather than on borders. There is a chapter about seeds and growing seed as well as a chapter about composting.

Overall, if you have read and enjoyed any of Carol Deppe’s books or are interested in some basic fundamentals of sound gardening – then this is the book for you. Even though I did not agree with a few of the things Solomon wrote (raised rather than lowered gardens for dry climates and his negative views on Southern Exposure Seed Exchange) I would have to say that the book had some good ideas that were based on years of experience in a couple climates.

Update: I just found you can access an ebook edition that has some of the pages - if you would like to preview it before you dedicate any finances to this text.


  1. Sounds like an interesting read.

  2. Heh-- at first I thought you were talking about King Solomon. But no. It's Alma-- "I shall now liken the word unto a seed . . ."


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