Spring is filled with beginnings. Days are getting longer, trees are getting greener, and flowers are starting to open up again. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the warmth of the season: the seeds of a “new you” may have been planted at the beginning of the New Year, but a fresh start rarely takes hold until a few months of molting have passed.
Now available just in time for spring, expert gardener Lolo Houbein offers us all a chance to make the most of this season and all those to come with a beautiful new edition of One Magic Square, a book on making big things out of little spaces–3-foot squares, to be exact! The title focuses on gardening out of 3-foot square plots, which allow readers to grow complex combinations of mutually advantageous plants that can also be used in conjunction when mealtime rolls around.
There has been a surging interest in urban agriculture, especially among millennials and others who seek to reclaim urbanized spaces and rebuild a relationship with the land. People working with small spaces will especially benefit from this title, which features salad plots, interlacing plots, and even a pizza plot!
This new book is an invaluable resource for those who care about sustainability, maintaining a symbiotic relationship with our environment, or simply having quick and easy access to healthy and delicious food. Its timely release is situated to help us grow into the season and make the most of our surroundings this spring, rather than trying to force change upon ourselves from without. Lolo elucidates all that she has learned over a lifetime of gardening: her family survived WWII in war-torn Holland on a small garden plot, and she has since traveled the world and cultivated vegetables in disparate geographies across the globe.
Even today Lolo finds joy and curious discovery in the art of gardening. Her warm personality glows throughout the book’s text, as in this note and photo she shared with The Experiment just the other day:
“Despite days of 35 Celsius, the nights are cooling, plants are looking up and finally getting on with the business of growing. Pruning away a batch of large pumpkin leaves this morning (a self-seeded volunteer), I found this pumpkin that had dropped itself in a nearby basket – now it wants to get out to keep growing . . .”
The subtle and simple pleasures of the season could hardly be captured better than in discovering a pumpkin that decided to take a nearby basket for its home. Whether you are a master gardener or a novice, One Magic Square offers plenty of opportunity for development and self-discovery. Lolo Houbein makes gardening simple, blissful, sustainable, and most importantly, possible under almost any circumstances, whether you find yourself limited by physical space or geographical climate. The year is born into the dead of winter (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), but it truly blossoms in spring—what better way to grow into the season than with one magic square.
Lolo Houbein first learned about growing fruits and vegetables from her Uncle Wim, whose food garden saved the family during the last years of World War II in war-torn Holland. In 1958, she emigrated to Australia with her husband and children. She studied literature and anthropology at the universities of Adelaide and Papua New Guinea, and has written numerous books and articles on humanitarian and conservation topics. Houbein lives and gardens in the Adelaide Hills of Australia.