Grow Great Grub – and a giveaway


22 Jul Grow Great Grub – and a giveaway

Before a certain family member thinks this is a guilt trip, let me state for the record it isn’t. I’m simply stating facts.

Fact: My grandiose plans for a communal family garden got kiboshed in early spring when my sister announced her engagement. With a great big honkin’ white marquis, a dozen tables and a hundred chairs scheduled to sprawl across the planting area mid-July, we had to rethink vegetable patch.

Fact: Weddings trump gardens.

Fact: I’m okay with that. Really.

Why? Because in an attempt to find out how to maximize the small space left uneaten by the tent, I discovered I can grow blueberries. And I love blueberries.

Thanks to Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces by Gayla Trail, I’ve got two lowbush blueberries working hard at producing my breakfast fruit of choice — right under the messy pine no other edible seems to like. Apparently, blueberries love the acid soil the needles create. I realize I won’t see berries for a couple of years but I no longer scowl at the pine.

For all those procrastinators who don’t have a wedding as an excuse, a late-summer crop is still possible. According to Trail, peas, beans, carrots, spinach, lettuce, onions and radish don’t mind waiting. But to be honest, I’m a bit tired for that right now. I just want to kick back and admire the garden from my newly renovated kitchen window. And what grows in my garden? Amongst other things, bergamot (aka bee balm).

And after my disastrous flirtation with homemade Earl Grey tea, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this clown-haired herb. Apparently, the leaves pair well with heavy meats. Who knew? Gayla.

So, even though it’s late in the season, Grow Great Grub comes in handy. If you’ve already planted, there’s a section on harvesting. If you don’t grow so much as a weed, the section on preserving (short-term and long-term storage) is worth a read. Trail’s fun tone is so persuasive she has me saving toilet paper rolls and used panty hose. Why? Read the book.

Trail can literally dish the dirt on growing food. She gardens without a backyard, using a rooftop instead, so she knows first-hand how to make the most of small spaces. Or big ones. She does community gardening, too. With a lively voice and clear explanations, Trail discusses crop rotation, composting, companion planting, pest control and more. She’s also realistic in managing expectations. You want to grow watermelon? No problem, but the yield will be low. And forget the giant zucchini competition. Pick ’em small if you don’t the entire family to turn up their noses at a tasteless, woody vegetable.

Beyond stellar photos and helpful sidebars, Trail provides useful overviews on how to grow specific fruits, vegetable and herbs and tosses in some simple but tempting recipes. Great, Gayle. Now I want to grow borage just so I can float the tiny purple star-shaped flowers in soup or freeze them into impressive little ice cubes.

Normally I pick a recipe to post along with a review, but this time, I’m leaving the decision up to you. Which of Gayla’s recipe should I make?

  1. Cold Cucumber, Mint & Yogurt Soup
  2. Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
  3. Roasted Zucchini Dip
  4. Tangy Red Pepper Ketchup

Cast your vote in the comments section. I’ll test the most popular option and post about it next week. As an added bonus, one lucky commenter — selected by random draw — will win a copy of Grow Great Grub courtesy the delight people at Random House. I’ll draw names on July 28th and post on the 30th.

Blueberry photo © pinksherbet. Published under a Creative Commons License.

  • Susan Hoffman
    Posted at 11:17h, 22 July Reply

    The hummingbird loves the bee balm in our back garden!

    I’m voting for the Tangy Red Pepper Ketchup.

  • Amy P
    Posted at 11:44h, 22 July Reply

    Earl Grey has oil of bergamot orange, not monarda, which is good for oswego tea, and tastes more like oregano. Oh dear!

    If the book can solve the innumerable problems in our postage stamp sized yard, I’d be in heaven. As it stands, I’m in a scruby pile of acidified silt, where even mint won’t grow. How’s that for bad?

    • Amy P
      Posted at 11:45h, 22 July Reply

      @Amy P, and I forgot to say, make the yogurt soup. We eat yogurt soup all summer, full of herbs. Yum!

  • Monica
    Posted at 12:48h, 22 July Reply

    Oh man, choices, choices.. I love them all. But, I’m in a huge tomato craving mode… so I will have to choose the Oven-Roasted Tomato.. but the Roasted Zucchini Dip sounds yummy too…

  • Niveditha
    Posted at 12:51h, 22 July Reply

    I would choose cold cucumber, mint and yogurt soup…what better way to cherish this summer:)) Thanks for this giveaway!!!

  • Stephanie
    Posted at 12:58h, 22 July Reply

    Ooooo….Minty cuc and gurt soup sounds sooooo refreshing right now, as we are all wilting in a heat wave running up through Pennsylvania (and the whole East coast). I wonder how that one tastes? The book sounds like just my thing, too….Cheers, Stephanie,

  • Lisa MacColl
    Posted at 14:23h, 22 July Reply

    Oven roasted tomatoes or red pepper ketchup have my votes.

    Our Morning Glories have buried our cucumbers. They’re in there somewhere. My husband put a tomato cage around them. Now we just have to dig them out…

  • Judith Rutty Godfrey
    Posted at 14:59h, 22 July Reply

    Oh man, tough choices but I need to, and I mean NEED to vote for the roasted zucchini dip. There are oodles of zuchers in my garden from a plant that doesn’t take up a huge space. And since my hors d’oeuvres/dip talents are few this recipe sounds perfect!

  • Kimberly
    Posted at 16:03h, 22 July Reply

    I vote for the oven-roasted tomatoes…. yum!

  • Robin Smart
    Posted at 23:39h, 22 July Reply

    I’m with cousin Jude. Zucchini dip please. I’ll come taste test.
    Could I do blueberries under cedar??

  • Libby
    Posted at 11:07h, 23 July Reply

    I like the sound of the Roasted Zucchini Dip, so I vote for that. This book would certainly be handy…I’m attempting to grow eggplant and tomatoes in large planters on my balcony! Thanks for the chance to win!

  • Lora
    Posted at 12:10h, 23 July Reply

    Hoping for zucchini dip too. I have children who detest zucchini but love dips — could this appetizer convince them that zucchini is delicious?

  • christopher h
    Posted at 20:20h, 23 July Reply

    tangy red pepper ketchup

  • Amber G
    Posted at 20:41h, 23 July Reply

    I hope you make the Oven-roasted tomatoes!

  • Debbie S.
    Posted at 10:52h, 24 July Reply

    Tangy red pepper ketchup. Sounds yummy!

  • James Cabaj
    Posted at 18:36h, 26 July Reply

    Oven-Roasted Tomatoes always complements a nice meal.

  • Christina S
    Posted at 22:05h, 26 July Reply

    Tangy red pepper ketchup

  • Kelly G.
    Posted at 23:20h, 26 July Reply

    I am going to vote for the Tangy Red Pepper Ketchup. Sounds great!

  • Louis
    Posted at 14:06h, 27 July Reply

    I really like the Cold Cucumber, Mint & Yogurt Soup

  • Ed Nemmers
    Posted at 16:18h, 27 July Reply

    Oven-Roasted Tomatoes would be my choice!

  • Kaki
    Posted at 18:23h, 27 July Reply

    Please make Roasted Zucchini Dip. It’s that time of year when they pile up on my counter and I really need new ways to use them up. I’d love of a review of one more!

  • Benita
    Posted at 19:09h, 27 July Reply

    I vote for the Oven-Rosted Tomatoes. They sound yummy as a side dish, or an appetizer.


  • Rachel Higgs
    Posted at 21:01h, 27 July Reply

    Roasted Zucchini Dip

  • Rachel S
    Posted at 22:34h, 27 July Reply

    My vote is for the Oven-Roasted Tomatoes, although the yogurt sounds right up my alley too.

  • Deanna Church
    Posted at 22:53h, 27 July Reply

    Roasted Zucchini Dip

  • dawn
    Posted at 04:23h, 28 July Reply

    Roasted Zucchini Dip sounds good.


  • Nikki Davis
    Posted at 08:12h, 28 July Reply

    I am voting for the Roasted Zucchini Dip, it sounds yummy!

    Thank you for the entry,


  • kathy pease
    Posted at 10:59h, 28 July Reply

    Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

  • Daniel M
    Posted at 14:14h, 28 July Reply

    Oven-Roasted Tomatoes sounds good

  • Gloria M.
    Posted at 14:40h, 28 July Reply

    The Oven Roasted Tomatoes would be my choice! I love tomatoes!

  • Chrystal
    Posted at 14:46h, 28 July Reply

    You should make the Roasted Zucchini Dip.

  • susan smoaks
    Posted at 16:05h, 28 July Reply

    i vote for the Roasted Zucchini Dip

  • Charmian Christie
    Posted at 17:00h, 28 July Reply

    Thanks to everyone who voted! I’m officially closing the polls now. I’ll be posting the winner and recipe decision shortly.

  • Veronica Garrett
    Posted at 22:29h, 28 July Reply

    I vote for Oven-Roasted Tomatoes.

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