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Book review: Urban or not, this book helps you garden better


One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is what basic gardening book I recommend. And to be honest I’ve yet to have a great answer. But at least when it comes to growing food, I now have an answer.

urban gardening by Kevin Espiritu

This post may contain affiliate links. See my complete disclosure here.

I didn’t know what to expect when I opened up Kevin Espiritu’s new book Field Guide to Urban Gardening, but I had little doubt that it would be compelling, well researched and, well, enthusiastic. That’s because that’s exactly how Kevin is on social media (including Instagram where I follow him the most).

But what exactly is urban gardening? Surely it’s the kind of gardening Espiritu himself does, which is practically in the middle of a San Diego street (a placement that’s both a blessing and a curse as you read in the book). But I couldn’t imagine that it had anything to do with where many of my friends garden, which is to say generally SUBurban. 

But if Espiritu’s book is any indication, we’re all urban gardeners. The information in it is suited to literally any gardener. In other words, you should pay more attention to the subhead: “How to grow plants, no matter where you live.”

Mixed in among excellent ideas for growing in small spaces is great hardcore scientific information on growing, soil and more delivered in an approachable manner. 

Espiritu assumes nothing about the reader, which means that gardeners of many skills levels are equally served by the book, from those looking to just start out to experienced gardeners looking to try something new. I loved the section on growing microgreens, which I’ve been wanting to try for some time but never got around to researching.

Information on smaller gardening matters, little items you may find yourself wondering about, such as how to clean planting containers and how much soil you need for a particular container size, are given mention without belaboring the point.

The book is illustrated with hundreds of excellent photos that help explain and inspire. In fact the photos on their own make a compelling argument for having this book—part reference guide, part gardening inspiration—on your bookshelf rather than seeking out the information piecemeal online.

Whether you’re seeking a good beginning gardening guide, particularly one well suited to growing food, or you are just looking for great ways to grow big in small spaces, Field Guide to Urban Gardening ticks all the right boxes.

P.S. Do check out Kevin on Instagram as well as on his blog Epic Gardening. Right now he’s doing a one-month challenge in which everything he eats he has to grow, catch or barter for and it’s been fun to watch him get very creative. Right not he’s still at the point where potatoes are great but I’m wondering when he’s going to decide he never wants to see another potato again.

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