January 21, 2018

B2B Book Review: High Performance Gardening

Dan's and my first garden on the homestead was huge. It seemed like the right thing to do to become food self-sufficient, but eventually we figured out that it was just too much to manage. If the garden was all we had to do, then sure, it would have been great. But we have other things going on: livestock, home repair, building projects, lumber making, field crops, haying, food preservation, and other self- sufficiency projects like expanding our rainwater collection system, etc. Plus my writing and Dan's job. There just aren't enough hours in a day.

We cut back on the size of the garden, and I cut back on the variety of vegetables we were growing. Also I stopped experimenting with new seeds, deciding to focus on what I knew grew well in our little part of the world. I also knew we'd need to learn ways to extend our growing season and garden more efficiently. That's why I was glad to find High Performance Gardening by Lynn Gillespie in this year's Back to Basics Living Bundle.

What is a high performance garden? The author defines it as a garden that grows in harmony with nature, is disease and insect resistant, has few weeds, requires low time and energy inputs from the gardener (and with only a few tools), utilizes all available gardening space, produces huge yields, and is fun! Isn't that everybody's dream garden?

But isn't that what all books on gardening promise? What makes this one any different? Rather than focusing on specific vegetables, the author deals with concepts. Twelve characteristics of high performance gardens are discussed in detail, supported by science and experience.

One concept that was brand new to me was utilizing the Brix Index to measure the nutrient density of what I grow. What's that, you ask? I'll let the author explain...

"There is a meter called a refractometer that can measure the amounts of dissolved solids in fruits or vegetables to tell you which fruits or vegetables are more nutrient dense than others. The higher the reading on the refractometer the better quality the fruit or vegetable. . . a poor tomato would have a Brix index of 4, an average tomato would have a Brix index of 6, a good tomato would have a Brix index of 8 and an excellent tomato that would make you jump for joy would have a Brix index of 12."
Lynn Gillespie, High Performance Gardening
Ch. 4 "High Performance Characteristic #1:
In Harmony With Nature."

A chart of how various grades of vegetables register on the Brix scale is included.

Who doesn't want to grow food like that! The rest of the book tells you how to achieve excellent nutrient density, how to increase bug and disease resistance, and how to decrease weeds and back-breaking work. I'm thrilled because I feel that at last I have a tool with which to measure my gardening efforts and results.

For a list of all the eBooks in the bundle, click here.

You have several options to purchase the collection:
  • Online access: $39.97
  • USB flash drive: $64.97 (includes domestic shipping)
  • USB flash drive PLUS online access: $69.97 (includes domestic shipping)

And remember! If you buy the bundle through my blog, you get your choice of one volume from my Critter Tales Series eBooks, for free. My Honeybee Tales is included in the bundle, but if you buy the bundle through this link, email me with your choice of another Critter Tales volume, and I'll send you a link for your free copy. (The first volume in the Critter Tales Series is always free, no purchase ever necessary. You can get a free copy of that here.)


Sam I Am...... said...

Actually, I never do the CAPTCHA and it still posts my comment.
This gardening book sounds wonderful also and such a different slant on the usual gardening books...of which I have a gazillion!

Leigh said...

Sam, it's the same for me with captcha, but I didn't want to advertise that to potential spammers, LOL It's true though, just ignore it, hit publish, and it works without.

Yeah, I have a zillion gardening books too, so at first I wasn't even interested in looking at this one. But I'm so glad I did. I definitely need to make some improvements, and am so happy for a way to measure success (besides looks and taste. :)

The Wykeham Observer said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has reduced the size of the garden and honed in on what I can grow successfully and make use of.

Leigh said...

Phil, I think reassessing our goals versus needs from time to time is key. It's imperative to keep things realistic and manageable! I'm glad for all the experimentation I've done, though, and I'm sure you can likely say the same thing. I'm planning to focus on more year around gardening and better yields. :)

Madness, Trouble, Squish and Milkbone said...

Just a note about using a refractometer - it measures soluble solids and in most fruit and vegetables that means sugars. So a tomato with 4 brix contains 4% sugar and one with 6 brix contains 6% sugars. It is not sensitive enough to measure the levels of most soluble solids in fruit and vegetables, even though theoretically other things like amino acids are also soluble solids. It is good at measuring the total % of sugars, but not much else. BTW, a tomato with 12 Brix would have as much sugar as a watermelon!

Leigh said...

Cecilia, thank you for the clarification. Definitely something I need to research. Not so sure I'd like a tomato that sweet, LOL, but I can see how it could help as a measurement toward improvement.