Black Thumb Greenhouse

How to Take Your Self-Sufficient Homestead from Dream to Reality – An Introduction to Greenhouse Gardening Even Cactus-Killers Can Complete

Non-Fiction - General
120 Pages
Reviewed on 07/14/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite

Black Thumb Greenhouse: How to Take Your Self-Sufficient Homestead from Dream to Reality – An Introduction to Greenhouse Gardening Even Cactus-Killers Can Complete by JD Isaly is a useful guide geared toward self-sufficiency and sustainability. According to the book, a greenhouse facilitates gardening throughout different seasons as greenhouse gardening is not susceptible to changes in climatic conditions. It delves into the history of greenhouse farming which can be traced back to the Roman Empire and explains its popularity. It also explores different types of greenhouses and how to increase efficiency in greenhouse gardening. Construction materials, working with seeds and saving seeds, and the conditions needed to allow plants to thrive are also discussed.

As the access to nutritional food reduces globally and risks to global food security continue to rise, JD Isaly’s Black Thumb Greenhouse comes at a timely time, especially with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on food security. The guide contains practical information that even beginners will be able to understand and follow. Factors to consider when constructing and maintaining a greenhouse such as location, drainage, temperature, and irrigation are explained. Different types of seeds and how to read seeds’ labels are also explained. The work contains surprising quotes and facts which enliven it such as that mushrooms have their own immune system and that children who grow their own food are more likely to consume fresh vegetables and fruits. It also explains how to grow specific familiar plants in a greenhouse such as carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, and apples. Black Thumb Greenhouse by JD Isaly is an accessible gardening guide with applicable information.

Renee Guill

Black Thumb Greenhouse: How to Take Your Self-Sufficient Homestead from Dream to Reality – An Introduction to Greenhouse Gardening Even Cactus-Killers Can Complete by J.D. Isaly is a nonfiction book that tells you everything you need to know about greenhouse gardening. J.D. Isaly shows you what you need and explains why you need it. He also gives fun facts about nature. He summarizes every chapter to help you remember more easily and lists websites if you need more information. The book also has info for regular gardeners as well.

I thought that Black Thumb Greenhouse by J.D. Isaly was a fascinating book. The format used was easy to navigate. I liked that he explained why you needed certain things instead of telling us that we need them. I really enjoyed the "did you know facts," especially about the butterfly. That was creepy and cool at the same time. The summary at the end of each chapter was beneficial. I loved that J.D. Isaly used quotes too. The one about the grocery store was fascinating and gave me something to ponder. I like the great references in the back, too, in case you need even more information. I like that they showed us what we need without making it too difficult to understand; there is a lot of tech stuff. This is a great book for any gardener, especially beginners.

Asher Syed

Black Thumb Greenhouse by JD Isaly is a comprehensive non-fiction resource for both experienced and novice horticulturalists. Tag-lining the all-inclusive book is the subtitle, How to Take Your Self-Sufficient Homestead from Dream to Reality – An Introduction to Greenhouse Gardening Even Cactus-Killers Can Complete. Broken down into seven chapters, Isaly covers a wide range of topics such as different types of greenhouses, their benefits, and proper development for the best efficiency, keeping your plants alive, organization and materials, seeds and varieties, and all that is required for a greenhouse to thrive, among many other areas of interest and concern. The book explores the self-sufficiency of a homesteading lifestyle and the goal of substantive agriculture.

There was no way that I, a wishful gardener with the dreaded black thumb, could pass up on Black Thumb Greenhouse by JD Isaly. I have grown up and lived my entire life in cemented urban jungles, even in England, where gardening is practically a religion and where the Royal Botanic Garden Millennium Seed Bank is a thirty-minute drive from my front door. I have always wanted a small greenhouse and finally have a backyard with a bit of space, so this book is a perfect fit. I absolutely love the integration of fun facts. Who knew strawberries aren't a berry at all? But mostly, it is the encouragement behind the wealth of information that was the most helpful. Following a section on proper drainage that is wonderfully detailed but still can be daunting for a beginner, Isaly says, "Sometimes you may fail, but that’s a natural consequence of learning a new task. It simply means you are one step closer to expertise." And with that, away I go on my first greenhouse journey. I highly recommended this book.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

“The garden is the epicenter of all human life. Without it, there is no us.” Profound words indeed. With the growing concerns of climate change, greenhouse gases, and food shortages, it’s good to know that what we were once guaranteed to find in our local grocery store all year long, we can grow ourselves and reap the benefits not only of healthy eating but a healthy lifestyle as well. After all, gardening is good for both the body and the soul. But with so many growing zones and changing climate patterns, it’s not always possible to maintain a garden. At least, a garden outside. What about a greenhouse garden? If you have the space, it’s a great year-round alternative to fighting the woes of unsettling weather patterns.

J.D. Isaly’s guidebook, Black Thumb Greenhouse: How to Take Your Self-Sufficient Homestead from Dream to Reality – An Introduction to Greenhouse Gardening Even Cactus-Killers Can Complete, is a great resource to get you started on your greenhouse odyssey. Beginning with useful and interesting types of benefits of having your own greenhouse (including the psychological benefits), the author leads the reader through types of greenhouses, important tips on ventilation, irrigation, shade, humidity, temperature, and how to plant, what to plant, and how to save the seeds. Each chapter is well focused on a theme with a concise summary at the end. This is a great guide for the would-be greenhouse gardener, even those who believe they really have a black thumb instead of a green one.

Francis Mont

Black Thumb Greenhouse: How to Take Your Self-Sufficient Homestead from Dream to Reality by J.D. Isaly is an easy-to-follow, comprehensive book for novice gardeners who want to explore this new form of gardening. In the Introduction, J.D. Isaly comments on the need for self-sufficiency in this increasingly insecure world. The question we all should ask is, “If it all fell apart tomorrow, would I still be able to provide for myself and the people that I care about?” After this poignant question, he lists all the benefits of a greenhouse: physiological, psychological, therapeutic. Then he systematically covers the main aspects of greenhouse gardening: planning, building, servicing with heating, lighting, irrigation, and ventilation. Next, he covers the important items to furnish it with such as benches and shelves and a few of the most necessary instruments like thermometers. Finally, the most important chapters talk about seeds, vegetables, fruits, and flowers one could successfully grow in the greenhouse. The book ends with four pages of useful references for further study and research.

I picked up this book because I own and have operated a greenhouse for over a decade and was curious if I could learn anything new. I can only say that I wish I'd had J.D. Isaly’s Black Thumb Greenhouse ten years ago when I built my greenhouse. It would have saved me from making a lot of mistakes, and I still can learn new and useful things. The book is well organized and easy to follow with interesting “Did you know?” comments in front of each chapter. It is the most unusual book on gardening that I have ever read because, in addition to the useful information, it is full of inspirational and motivational comments that should resonate with readers looking for both physical and spiritual enlightenment. At the end of each chapter, a useful “Chapter Summary” helps the reader identify the most important lessons learned. I very highly recommend Black Thumb Greenhouse by J.D. Isaly to anyone who wants to start, or improve, their greenhouse.