Grow Great Grub


Everyone loves good food.   Fresh, tasty, nutritious food is our birthright.  And what better way to have great food than to grow it yourself?  ~Charlie Nardozzi


One of the most important things in growing a vegetable garden are the pollinators.  If someone doesn’t tell you this, you might IMG_7560miss a very important piece in the puzzle of growing your own food.  And it is so appropriate to talk about pollinators as this is the start of Pollinator Week.

Pollinator Week was founded by Pollinator Partnership.  If you don’t know about this organization you should check out their website.   These folks are dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems.

This, now, international celebration of bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles was started 6 years ago by the  U.S. Senate who pwlogo2013FINALdesignated a week in June as “National Pollinator Week”.  This celebration brings the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations to the forefront every year.

And why are pollinators so important?  Well in my neighborhood with mostly grass and shrubs, the pollinators take up residence under shingles and shutters where they are summarily exterminated.  Why don’t I have this problem?  Well I have gardens of flowers and veggies.  I don’t spray chemicals so they can nest in the ground in bare patches.  I provide nectar and pollen, pollinator houses and tree stumps.  And I am not afraid of the bees because I know without them, we humans would be doomed.

Here are some great facts about pollinators:

  •  Successful pollination results in the production of healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing plants to reproduce.  Without pollinators, we simply wouldn’t have many crops.
  • About 75% of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators for fertilization and over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators. Of those, about 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats and small mammals, such as mice. The rest are insects, such as beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, and moths.
  • Worldwide, approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the resources on which we depend.
  • Foods produced with the help of pollinators include apples, strawberries, blueberries, chocolate, melons, peaches, figs, tomatoes, pumpkins & almonds.
  • In the United States, pollination by honey bees and other insects produces nearly $20 billion worth of products annually!


For me, June is prime time in the vegetable garden.  Cooler weather vegetables are either in high gear and producing, or the warmIMG_5338 weather veggies were just planted.  Either way this gardener is vigilant, observant and forever diagnosing and tending the veg patch daily.  It takes a lot of time once your garden moves to beyond a couple of beds.

I am always looking for advice and help for my veg garden, so when I saw this book it drew me in.  I have reviewed many veg gardening books, and in each one I found helpful information.  So when I look at new or unfamiliar vegetable gardening books to buy or review, I look for interesting growing information, luscious pictures, great resources and yummy recipes.  In short a perfect book for anyone who loves to veggie garden or who may just be starting.


Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces



Author: Gayla Trail
Paperback:  208 pages
Publisher: Clarkson Potter (February 2, 2010)
Amazon Price: $14.69







In A Few Words

The premise of this book is how to grow delicious, affordable, organic food pretty much anywhere.  It emphasizes small spaces and urban environments to show how anyone can grow food in any type of space.  The author calls this small space gardening, microfarming.  I practiced a bit of this microfarming when I was younger living in apartments.  I think if I I had read this book then, I might have not given up so soon on vegetable gardening all those years ago.

The book is divided into 3 sections:IMG_7855

Section 1 is a gardening primer that is chock full of excellent information about where to grow your own food either above or in the ground, starting seeds, companion planting, second sowing, composting, watering, weeding, fertilizing, container planting, good and bad bugs and oh so much more.

Section 2 is all about the plants.  You name the herb, vegetable or fruit and the author tells you how to grow it in the ground or container, how to harvest it and many other tips along with recipes.

Section 3 talks specifically about how to harvest and store the food you grow.



What I Liked

IMG_2302Each section of the book has so much crammed into it.  For instance the author shows you how you can grow sprouts in recycled containers.  Or what herbs and veggies grow best in poor conditions.  The author also gives a simple easy way to understand companion planting.  I also love the section on fertilizers where the author explains the necessary nutrients and common ingredients to use for fertilizers.  I was glad to see the section on insects, especially the pollinators, that also included diseases and ways to deal with them organically.

Not to be missed is how to make your own upside down tomato planter.  I made one and it was easy.  The tomatoes seem to be doing great.  Other great sections are the edible flowers, planting chart which is very user friendly, and the most intriguing chart on how to predict your harvest.

I love how the author makes everything sound so easy.  She uses easy to understand directions and IMG_6606encouraging words so even I believe I can understand the great many aspects about vegetable gardening.  And she makes gardening affordable by using easily found items and most are recyclable.  She encourages that you not buy many garden supplies.  Had I read this book sooner I might have saved myself a bit of money.



Not So Much

I don’t know what else she could have added or included in the book.  As I read this in a few hours (couldn’t put it down), I kept thinking,”She really has included all you really need to know and some more besides to be successful”.



Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed the image Gayla gives when she talks about picking the ingredients for dinner from your garden.  This book is perfect whether you have a small space or a large space with which to garden.  Everything you need to start is here.  And those who have already started will continue to find information to add to your toolbox of tricks.

And I liked how Gayla emphasizes what I say to new gardeners……if you are starting a veg garden go slow and start with one or two veggies, learn about them, build your skills a bit and then add veggies in subsequent years.  And realize you will have success and failures…both will teach you so much.

If you don’t know Gayla Trail’s website for her online gardening community, YouGrowGirl, you should check it out.  She continues to amaze me with her knowledge of all things gardening.


I am linking in with  Holley’s Garden Book Review meme so check out other great books being reviewed.

**The pictures used in the post are from prior years in my veg gardens.


Come Join Us:

Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time.  I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether summer or winter or something else.  Share your traditions, holidays, gardens and celebrations in pictures, poetry or words starting June 1st.

And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme.  What lessons have you learned this past season of spring here in the North and fall in the South.  Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.The rules are simple.  Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations.  If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts.  Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post.  Make sure to include a link with your comment.

Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the solstice (the 21st of June).  And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog.  Your post should be linked in the weekend before the equinox to give us enough time to include your post in our summary.  And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create).  The badges here can be used in your post.   So won’t you join in the celebration!!


Next up on the blog:  Don’t  forget June 21st will be the Seasonal Celebrations wrap up post so get those posts linked in.  Next Monday is another Simply The Best Herbs.

I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my most current post now.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’sFertilizer Friday.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2013.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.


50 Replies to “Grow Great Grub”

  1. One of the most rewarding experiences in gardening is harvesting ones own fruit and vegetables! I have had more failures than successes so I think the advice to start small and get to know a few plants is great! I will have to check out this new book…looks like a good one! Hope you have a bountiful harvest this year!

  2. Great review. I think books about veg growing are often dissapointing because they actually make it seem all to easy when in reality growing fruit and vegetables is much more difficult than growing a beautiful flower garden. Good luck with your veggies this year Donna. Christina

    1. I agree some make it sound so easy, and then I think oh sure I can do this too….not exactly is the reality. The veg garden books I have liked seem to give you all the parts and help you figure it out but they also give you their failures making it more realistic. I always warn people it is not as easy as it looks. My veggies would produce more and seem a lot happier if we could stay warm here… the veggies would like it a whole lot better especially my poor basil.

  3. there are few things more satisfying
    on this earth
    than growing good food
    that you then harvest and prepare
    with love
    and then eating the wonders you watched grow.
    sooooooo much pure sweet joy in that.
    thanks for taking me there
    and sharing your wisdom along the way,

    1. You put it beautifully Jennifer…once you start growing your food even just one plant is so satisfying and addictive.

  4. sounds like a really good empowering book on the topic. I’ve never thought about it before, but i wonder why food is called grub?

    1. I had to look it up of course…the word grub comes from a 14th century old English word that means to scratch or dig and since our food was dug back then it makes sense that it became a word for food.

  5. Sounds like a great book. I think everyone should grow something to eat these days. The upside down tomato grower would be fun and take up little space. And once people realize how tasty fresh vegetables are – and how wonderful organic is – they might demand more from the grocery stores. Thanks for joining in. I also enjoyed hearing about the pollinators. I didn’t know there was a pollinator week, and I also didn’t know mice were pollinators, either!

    1. Gardening is fun and we learn so much even when we aren’t even meaning to learn…I agree if more people grew even one food they would change they way our food is grown in bulk.

  6. Great post, Donna! We garden for food for our bodies, as well as food for the soul (flowers). I enjoy both. Have a wonderful summer. I think it will get a lot better for you in about 6 wks!

    1. Haha Beth…you know that is true…6 weeks. And how eloquently you put it…”We garden for food for our bodies, as well as food for the soul (flowers).”

      Wishing you a glorious summer!!

  7. Vegetables are more rewarding to grow I think because they provide food. It seems many like to grow the vegetables that might not even grow a perennial bed for instance. Unfortunately, they are the gardens most heavily sprayed and fertilized.

    When I design landscapes, many come with having a space dedicated to a vegetable patch, one both pretty in the landscape as well as very productive. I think homeowners have pride this type of garden a bit more. Just from my experience, no statistical basis. As for the pollinators, my post tomorrow has the same links. I was always impressed by our government for having a hand in dedicating a week to the pollinators. Their website is really done well to with tips, statistics and links to great advice.

    Congrats on all your celebrations. Many things to celebrate.

    1. Thanks Donna. I think home owners are very proud of those veg gardens too…they take so much of their time and attention. I agree it is a wonderful pollinator website and of course we are on the same wavelength with our posts 🙂

  8. Gayla gives great advice in her books. I loved the pics of your gardens. I am trying to grow great grub here this summer in a myriad of ways. The rain has been wonderful, but such cool temperatures have thrown me off my game.

    Oh, and pollinators, essential helpers in the garden business.~~Dee

    1. I saw those great gardens in your latest post Dee. The weather has been too cool here too and the warm weather veggies are grumbling especially the peppers and basil.

  9. We are already experiencing the joy of feeding ourselves from the early summer garden – there is nothing like sitting down to a meal that was almost all grown right in your own back yard. I love the wealth of information that Gayla brings to every one of her projects!

    1. How wonderful…we are just beginning to get a few veggies, but with the weather warming and all the rain the garden is in high gear now. So nice to hear so many people are Gayla fans.

  10. I may have told you that when we had deer, I planted hellebores in all my raised vegetable beds. Now we have a fence and I am slowly reclaiming the beds by selling the hellebores. Two are back with greens and strawberries and a third is on its way. It is a slow process but one that I am very excited about. Please don’t enter me in the drawing though.

    1. I plan to highlight them whenever I post about the veg garden too as I want others to know that it is one of the most important things we must consider now…thanks Carver!

    1. Karen that is great to hear. I love to know what others think of the same book I am reading. I have been growing tri color beans a couple of years now and I just love the variety fresh or cooked…love the look of them in a salad or dish…makes the meal more fun too!

  11. Your fresh green beans looks delicious! Great post for the Pollinator week! Thanks for the book review, sounds great! Have a happy week!

  12. Vegetable gardening is what i miss in staying home in the farm. In my 5th Floor Window, i try to plant one or 2 vegie pots, and yes even at that height and isolation in the big city, pollinators are attracted too. Once, a big butterfly even came in so hurriedly and even alighted on my hand, but it flew away without me having its photo. However, the small birds are my enemies, they cut the stems and leaves but just eat the portion remaining in their beaks, all the long portions just drop.

    1. I remember a few posts about your sky high garden at your window. But I did not realize those pesky birds were being such devils…hopefully they will leave you some garden to tend.

  13. I’m addicted to vegetable growing advice now I have a garden again. I’ve had a year to think about the principles which will guide the new garden. Pollinator friendly is at the top followed by natural pest control. Garden blogs have been tremendously helpful in getting me to this point.

    1. Wonderful to hear your plans and I look forward to reading all about your veg garden. For some reason I was missing your email alerts so I added you to Bloglovin’.

  14. Pollinators are pretty neat. Can’t imagine killing them though I am not fond of wasps. I think they pollinate a bit. Your veggie garden is coming along!

    1. Some wasps are not friendly at all but there are many that pollinate and also kill the bad bugs so I give them a wide berth…I hope to post more about what changes I made and am making in the veg garden…always a work in progress as I learn more.

  15. Great post and so timely. I have heard alot about that book but don’t have a copy yet. Seems like it is a good one to invest in. Thanks also for highlighting Pollinator week. I wrote an article recently about declining bee populations but was not aware of National Pollinator Week. I’ll mark it so I’m aware next year. 🙂

    1. Glad to pass on the info Andrea. Definitely a good book o invest in…we can’t have enough people passing on important info about pollinators.

  16. Donna, thanks for another lovely post. I will check out the book from the library. Everybody says that start slowly with vegetable gardening, but I didn’t :-). Am I successful? Not sure because all the seeds grow, produce and I eat, but of course I have not become completely self-sustainable and which I want to become. But, hopefully I will be doing better and better and become self-sustainable. My piece of advice to any one interested in gardening vegetables is to march ahead boldly :-).

    Congratulations for your retirement, birthday-celebration and all the occasions for which you are celebrating :-). Please do not include me in the seed-giveaway.

    1. I think you have a natural way with the veg garden. I would say you are very successful and more so than me in growing food. I am glad you enjoyed the post!

  17. I had thought the title of the post was about you growing your veggies Donna, not a book, I like the points you make, good luck with your veggies this year, Frances

    1. Thanks Frances and I promise to post soon lots of updates about my veggies as they are finally coming along. They will need their own post.

  18. Hi Donna
    Being a Toronto gal, Gayla is part of our GWA region and spoke to the group at our meeting a couple of years ago. She is inspiring and made me want to try harder for more quality veggies in my garden.
    I think we’re seeing a resurgence in home gardening, especially with the new homeowners because they want organic and from garden to table when possible.

    1. I wondered if she was in your area Judith…how lucky! I agree she is so inspiring. I also agree that we are seeing a resurgence in veg gardening although not in my neighborhood by any large numbers. Perhaps my area will catch the bug and practice more organic methods with more than just a veg garden.

  19. I no longer have a vegetable garden, but I can see that it would be an excellent book to have in the gardener’s library. Those are very healthy looking veggies in your photos!

    1. Thanks Dorothy…they are getting their growth on and I expect we will be overrun with them in another month through fall just in time for me to finally have time to enjoy the harvest in retirement.

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