The Complete Urban Gardener Summary

Joan Puma

The Complete Urban Gardener

Before embarking on a rooftop garden, the would-be gardener is sensibly advised to check local building codes and to determine the strength of the roof, since soil is heavy and could cause the roof to collapse. Obtaining written permission from the landlord is recommended: author Joan Puma also discusses the problems of right-of-access to the roof.

Following this initial planning stage, successive chapters cover designing the garden, soil requirements, fertilizers, mulching, composting, pests, diseases, and propagation. Then there are chapters on the plants themselves: trees, shrubs, perennials, flowering bulbs, annuals, biennials, vegetables, herbs, and even houseplants. Specific plant varieties are recommended for the urban environment, those that withstand excessive heat, drought, and pollution, which is extremely useful advice. The chapter on fertilizers discuses each component of fertilizer individually, and the pesticide/fungicide section gives a fine account of the properties and uses of each product. While this may be too deep for the novice, the seasoned gardener will earn much from the extensive charts and thorough explanations.

The illustrations consist mostly of black-and-white photographs and drawings, but also included is a marvelous eight-page section of color photographs featuring several lavish rooftop gardens. Lack of illustrations limits the usefulness of the section on pests and diseases, since it would be difficult to identify a particular bug in the garden from the written description alone. For a better illustrated treatment of this and the other general gardening topics covered, the novice should consult a basic manual such as the BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS COMPLETE GUIDE TO GARDENING, which is brimming with color pictures.

Elegantly written with careful attention to detail, THE COMPLETE URBAN GARDENER provides considerable practical advice for this unique type of gardening. The book will be most appreciated by the experienced gardener who, for whatever reason, finds himself or herself transplanted from the country or suburbia to the gray concrete world of the big city.