We’ve been fans of Meg Cowden’s work for several years. You may have read her articles in Northern Gardener magazine about creating a root cellar or the joy of head lettuce or growing peanuts in the North. Her first book — Plant Grow Harvest Repeat — has all the enthusiasm and knowledge that Meg brings to her articles and website in a concentrated, easily accessible but very complete form.
Plant Grow Harvest Repeat focuses on using the garden space you have intensively to get longer and larger harvests without overwhelming yourself. Succession planting is a big part of this, in addition to interplanting food and flower crops, planting continuously (“always be sowing” is one of her mantras) and using hoop houses, cold frames, and more to extend the season.
How to and why to?
While the book is full of practical ideas for increasing harvests and extending the growing season, it also has a philosophical underpinning—why would you want to do that? For Meg, it’s about providing fresh, healthy food for her family as much as possible and respecting the land they use to accomplish that. She looks at plant relationships from the perspective of prairies, forests and woods, and applies those to the home garden. Ideas such as planting greens as understory plants in the heat of the summer, relying more on perennial crops, especially for fruits, or using sunny gaps in the garden to grow carrots or greens open the readers eyes to how you can get more from a garden space by following nature and what the limits of intensive harvesting might naturally be.
The book really excels in the practical, though. Charts show readers when to plant crops in spring, when to replant them later in the season, how to space plants, harvest times, how to have continuous flower bloom in the garden, how warm soil needs to be for different plants to germinate and what the germination rate will be at different temperatures for different seeds. There is even a step-by-step guide to making newspaper pots to use in indoor seed starting as well as task lists for each season. Of course, a huge benefit for northern gardeners is that Meg gardens in the Twin Cities suburbs and embraces our cold climate.
What is also wonderful and practical about this book is that Meg does not gloss over the work involved in keeping an intensive garden. She is encouraging, offering a variety of tools for gardeners to try in their own spaces, but understanding that gardeners like the gardens they tend move and grow at their own pace.
Plant Grow Harvest Repeat is an excellent resource for food gardeners of all skill levels.