Book Review: Countertop Gardens


People are growing more fresh vegetables and herbs to eat at home. This is a great trend, and growing your own food is becoming easier with new light/seed start setups made specifically for indoor gardening.

Shelley Levis, author of Countertop Gardens (Quarto Publishing Group, 2018) has written an easy-to-follow, but thorough guide for growing food right on your kitchen counter, or at least nearby! So many people have trouble growing vegetables and herbs because of space or climate limitations. But that shouldn’t stop you, because with a little help and maybe a few gadgets, you can grow many types of vegetables and herbs indoors, often with handy kits to make the start-up process easy. Levis is especially mindful of the challenges of gardening in small spaces and the need for those of us in colder climates to have a few fresh vegetables, or at least some greens, on hand in winter.

A sample of some inside pages, filled with tips and lovely photos.

Here are my favorite features of Countertop Gardens:

  • The book lives up to its mantra of maximizing small spaces. It packs lots of tips and ideas into relatively few pages.
  • Levis includes a list of foods you can grow on your countertop.
  • The book summarizes how growing methods and tools once available only to commercial growers, such as hydroponics, are scaled down and available for in-home growing.
  • In addition to reviewing the technology and tools you can buy to grow food indoors, the author includes a section on DIY tips for countertop growing.
  • An inspiration gallery will inspire readers with examples of attractive countertop growing projects.
  • It includes a troubleshooting section.
It’s easy to grow in a windowsill when days are long and warm. In winter, your plants need help with light and warmth.

Even if you can grow in winter (which likely means it’s too hot for many plants in summer!), you can learn from Countertop Gardens. For example, when it is too hot to grow greens, use the book’s tips for growing microgreens. And if you start a set of greens two weeks apart, for example, you can have a nearly continuous supply of fresh sprouts. The book recommends ways to grow tomato plants indoors by selecting compact hybrids, for example. The author even offers a few recipes using foods grown indoors.

I highly recommend Countertop Gardens for anyone who wants to have fresh food at their fingertips year-round. The book combines practical tips and creative approaches to get you started.

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