Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Rooftop Growing Guide

Find me on Amazon!
Another gardening book?
Yep! I'm pretending to be a Sim, in the hopes that reading enough books about a subject will transform me into a master gardener before I ever touch dirt. Remember, I'm also working from a disadvantage: ignorance in gardening presents itself first as a black thumb. At least I'm hoping it's my ignorance of proper gardening techniques that murders the plants, and not a genetic predisposition to screwing up green spaces. 

Originally, I ordered this book to help me with my container garden, because obviously a rooftop garden means a container garden on the roof. At least, that's what I thought. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that is not always the case! It should've been obvious to me from the title and picture on the cover, but Annie Novak meant nothing so small as a container when she wrote this book. After all, look at the flat roof on that building and the size of the plants atop it!

I think this book is aimed primarily at people living in dense urban zones where there aren't many green spaces. Basically, since real estate is scarce and high cost, they instead turn to their roofs. It makes sense, really. On the roof of a building, you don't have to worry as much about whether your building or the next is perpetually casting shade over your plants, or if you have enough space in your tiny backyard to plant all you want. What if you want to plant something in particular, but the soil conditions in your area are not optimal for your new green darling? Rooftop gardening is the perfect opportunity to create your own optimal growing settings.

If only it were as easy as seeds + dirt + water. My strawberries
refuse to grow, and it makes me sad!
Before you get to thinking that it's as easy as throwing some dirt on your roof and some seeds on top of that, let me just tell you: No, not quite. It is still gardening, but with a few twists! These include whether or not your roof can even properly support a garden! Let's face it, buildings are made to sustain a certain amount of weight. Soil, plants with their roots, and especially the water intended to make everything grow, is likely to add weight the building may not support. That issue is fairly straightforward, but also stop to think about how you'll irrigate your rooftop garden, or how the roof microclimate will affect your plants! Yeah, I went there: I said "microclimate." No, rooftop gardening is decidedly not as straightforward as tossing some dirt and seeds up there and hoping for the best.

At this point, you're probably wishing I'd just get to the point and tell you how it would benefit you to get this book. First and foremost: Do you have a flat roof to grow things on? If you do, you will find this book interesting and helpful, whether you intend to have a small herb garden or a full-blown farm. The writing is engaging, and Novak has anecdotes from other rooftop gardeners to augment her own knowledge. Chances are that if you have a question, she will likely address it or has some other resource to offer. She covers topics ranging from assessing your rooftop —can I even grow here?— and pests, to choosing whether to grow in containers or greenhouses, or green roofs. And of course, there is also the ever present chapter on planning your garden. Yes, if I've learned anything from all these gardening books, it's that besides remembering to actually water your plants, the most important thing you can do is to plan your garden.

However, since I do not have a flat roof on which to grow things, I found The Rooftop Growing Guide to be theoretically interesting, but ultimately impractical. A more general gardening book would have suited me better, but that is not Annie Novak's fault. So if you have a flat roof, I absolutely recommend this book. And if you don't, you might still find it interesting to read.

I received a complimentary copy of The Rooftop Growing Guide from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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