The Survival Gardener Book of the Week #1: Gardening When it Counts

gardening books

Today I’m announcing a new regular feature: The Survival Gardener Library!

Every Friday I’ll feature a book of the week worth adding to your library. We’ll focus on gardening, homesteading, food forests, permaculture and wild plant foraging and maybe even throw in the occasional book from out there in left field.

I’ve been a book collector since I was a child and those books shaped the man I am today. From the Animals Without Backbones to The Foundation Trilogy to Florida Gardening to The Lord of the Rings, books have uplifted and inspired me over the years.

And that doesn’t even count the book that has impacted me the most: The Holy Bible. If you don’t have that book yet, go get one.

This week we’ll start the series with the must-have book Scorpions of Medical Importance:


Oh wait, no, that’s not it. I’m sorry.

This week we feature Steve Solomon’s classic:

Gardening When it Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times

Gardening When It Counts

I consider Steve Solomon my mentor.

We finally got the chance to meet via Skype a couple of months ago and he is brilliant in person as well. The man’s mind is a machine – yet his books are easy to read, accessible, and almost always practical.

Steve has gardened organically for years in a variety of climates. He’s farmed, run a seed company and written multiple books. I own them all, with the exception of Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades – though you can bet your broadfork I’d buy that one too if I lived within a thousand miles of the region.

Gardening When it Counts teaches you to grow food without breaking the bank or your back. It will open your eyes to the value of wide spacing, sharp tools and traditional methods.

Reading Steve is like learning from a wise grandfather who has been there, done that, and grown the potatoes.

If you don’t own this book and you are a gardener, you should.

Go get a copy. Read it. Learn from Steve – he knows his stuff.

You can learn more about Steve Solomon on his website.


*Original featured photo by my friend Jean.

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  • I am about half way through this book. I agree with your recommendation. The insight, knowledge, wisdom, and (at times brutal) honesty, contained in this book reveals a true master at his craft. If Mr. Solomon says it, I take it a gospel. I am currently also reading “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston, it is an interesting perspective, “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse, and a few others. This book of the week is exciting, you can never read too much. Thanks Dave. By the way Skillcult gave you some mad props the other day.

    • I am re-reading “Their Eyes Were Watching God” right now. Her manner of writing is captivating, and is done like no one else. When you have time check out Derek Walcott’s “The Arkansas Testament”

      • I was “forced” in highschool to read by the “worst” English teacher ever, I wish I could find her and thank/apologize to her. The older I get the more I realize what an idiot I am/was. I just stated buying books I have read in the past that I really liked, my plan is to have my daughter read them when she is old enough.

    • David The Good

      Steven at Skillcult is a good friend. I had grafting questions some years back and got in touch with him. We talked on Skype for a long time and we’ve been friends ever since.

    • David The Good

      My mom taught me to read when I was six. I never looked back. What I DO wish I had really done well when I was forced to do them: piano lessons. I am decent at piano and can read music, but I’m a hack. I resisted and resisted… if I could only go back in time and get my music theory correct, I’d be a better musician today.

  • I second that. Steve Solomon has packed more useful gardening information into that book than any other gardening book I know of.

    • David The Good

      Yes – I agree. Your recommendation carries a lot of weight too, Herrick. Thank you. I’ve picked up a lot from you as well.

  • I have some questions about cover crops… what, when, where, how… You mentioned that buckwheat is a good cheap cover crop. I need to consider how to revitalize my raised beds and I don’t know where to begin with that.

  • I meant to add… maybe you can do a post on that. Or maybe you already have… ?

  • Been reading his books for a long time. “The Intelligent Gardner” has some new info on dealing with clay soil, among other things.

    Don’t know if I can still hand dig a garden, like my last one. I do keep having to explain why raised beds are not a good idea.

    • David The Good

      The Intelligent Gardener is a great one. I’ve been hand-digging a bed full of rocks off and on for over a week now… it’s rough.

  • The most important garden book I have… If there is only one garden book I could have this would be it… I like books. too!

  • Thanks David so much for all your public service in helping others grow food. I grew up in Louisiana and recently moved back down south from Michigan to northern Florida and did not have a clue how to grow food as a safety net for my family of 6 which gave me a feeling of uneasiness. I even counter sunk fruit trees at the house I had to rent for a year to make myself feel better.
    I follow your guidelines in your books (Florida Food Forest and Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening-hope I got that right) of planting things that want to live here versus trees that are a constant struggle. I agree Steve Solomon’s book on Gardening When it Counts is great also as he talks about spacing in order to counteract lack of water. We expect water to always be flowing but with this year’s drought conditions it makes sense to keep in mind that spacing affects plants water needs. God Bless you for the work you do.

    • David The Good

      Thank you – that is very kind. I learned a ton from Steve Solomon and am still learning from him.

  • Pingback: The Survival Gardener Book of the Week #2: The Planet Whizbang Idea Book for Gardeners | The Survival Gardener

  • Moving west of the Cascades in 2 weeks, so will check that out as well! I think the big thing about reading is to get kids (and sometimes adults) to realize that you can actually learn things by reading. (And if the book is terrible, just stop or skip to the end and decide if you want to bother finishing it….too many good books to waste time on the bad!)

    • David The Good

      I have heard great things about Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades. Definitely get that one.

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