Soil enriched by organic matter is the foundation of a healthy food garden that produces vegetables and fruit of high nutritional content. Compost gives plants the opportunity to graze about with their roots for what they need, just like chickens are healthier when able to scratch around an orchard for grass, worms, and herbs than when they are fed a scientific formula.


This is the foundation of the  book – One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 1 Metre Square by Lolo Houbein

Australian gardener, Lolo Houbain’s popular book on creating themed and small 1m2 food gardens, has reached South Africa. Starting with a discussion on the types of food production in the world, she then encourages the reader to start his own small food garden using one of 30 different designs. She also covers how to prepare the beds, composting, pests, and vegetable and herb culture. Finally she has a section on vegetables and herbs that you can plant.

Having read One Magic Square and then was subsequently inspired to try out her techniques, I found that this is the book’s main advantage. It inspires the reader to get out and make a veggie bed, start seedlings in cardboard toilet roll tubes and plant them out in one of her designs.

But this is where the book starts to become less useful. Like many motivators, it is light on practical experience. She tries to cover too many points and the advice given is often insufficient. It isn’t as simple as she says to start and maintain a garden. And of course, to anybody growing veggies and herbs in a small backyard plot, the aim is not to save money (for you won’t), but to gain the satisfaction on growing something local that you have planted and that is conveniently located outside your kitchen door.

If you are a starter or initiator like Lolo, or somebody who needs a spark to get your butt into gear, then you will find One Magic Square useful. If you are a detail person or somebody who is a little unsure of starting new projects, then you will probably need another more detailed book to help you with your gardening project. Try either of the following:

(Review by Tim Truluck,  Johannesburg Slowfood convivium leader).

Interested in buying this book? Visit – Red Pepper Books – The South African online bookshop, is able to offer you great prices on any book you are looking for, and they deliver to your door. Pay only R180 for this book (Recommended Retail Price = R225)!  Red Pepper Books is offering Wickedfood Cooking School subscribers an EXTRA 10% off this book. Simply type in the promotional code WICKEDFOOD on the shipping page of the checkout process and your purchase will be reduced by a further 10%.

Wickedfood Cooking School runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built Johannesburg cooking studio. Cookery classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – teambuilding cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.

Our cooking lessons are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.