Vertical Vegetable Gardening by Chris McLaughlin is not so much a book about which vegetables are climbers or twiners as it is a guide to growing your fruit and veggies in small spaces. It does indeed, explain the habit of twiners, toplers and tendrils, and even allocates an entire section of the book to the individual cultural requirements of each plant you could possibly want to grow in limited space.

The book starts with an overview of how to get the most out of a small garden, showing you how to maximize your harvest by incorporating plants that grow vertically to save space. It lists all sorts of structures, supports and frames needed to grow up instead of out. I particularly like Chris’s inclusion of repurposed items to use for this type of growing.

The book has some sound horticultural methods for improving soil fertility and nurturing healthy plants, including a great lesson in how to make your own compost and manure “tea”. The author also has a lot to say about which seeds to choose to protect our seed heritage and how to sow them successfully.

A section is allocated to teach the reader about the virtues of green manures, something I really support and encourage. Good ideas are discussed on pest and disease control by attracting beneficial insects into a small garden and practicing crop rotation. (Although I think the author may have confused phosphorus and potassium – I was always taught that phosphorus is good for root and shoot development while potassium is needed for flower and fruit development, rather than the other way round as mentioned at one point in the book). Anyway, they’re topics that are often overlooked in gardening books and I’m glad to see them included here.

I really like the layout of the book and the easy reading style that Chris writes in. It’s a comprehensive guide and gives everything you need to grow a huge amount of vegetables in a small garden.

Vertical Vegetable Gardening: A Living Free Guide (Living Free Guides)
RRP – $21.00 US, $22 CAN, Paperback 272 pages.