In a world filled with “How to Grow” books, Klaus Laitenberger has carved himself a virtually unique niche for Irish readers. His books are written on how to grow in Ireland, not someone else’s microclimates, but all the wonderful challenges that we face here.

He has already produced must-have books, such as Vegetables for the Irish Garden and Fruit & Vegetables for the Polytunnel and Greenhouse. The Self-Sufficient Garden is a welcome addition to these.

This book is based on the simple question what would it take to make huge steps towards being self-sufficient. He points out that Ireland currently only grows enough food to feed one million people and wants to help us all to tackle this problem in our own gardens. He doesn’t do this in an academic way, but, rather than bombarding you with an infinite range of options, he gives a very precise set of three plans involving up to 30 crops.

The first needs 50 square metres, takes a few hours a week and is entirely outside. It would give a good range of fresh veg all year round. The next plan takes 100 square metres and up to five hours a week. Also entirely outside, it would go a long way to meeting your home vegetable needs. The final version is a serious undertaking. It requires 300 square metres and a 90 square metre polytunnel. It would take 20 hours per week, but yield an abundance of veg throughout the year.

All three plans have detailed cropping and rotation plans. Each crop has detailed sowing, planting and cropping instructions. There is also a very broad range of advice on setting up and running a vegetable garden. Klaus has a deep commitment to organic growing and all the advice aligns with this. It would literally be possible to set up and run one of the plans without reference to any other book, although much more fun to look at a range of ideas.

Klaus tells us “I can sense a major shift coming.” He has created an incredibly rich resource that will inspire everyone from the beginner to the seasoned gardener to be part of that shift. The range of plans means that you have to ask yourself the simple, but revealing, question of “What am I trying to achieve in my garden?” Whatever your answer, Klaus will help you along the path you choose.

You can buy a copy of the book, as well as his previous books, from the Irish Seed Savers website at

Review written by Peter Couchman, Marketing & Development Coordinator