Review of Push the Zone, By David the Good

I was first introduced to David the Good nearly two years ago when he published his first book with Castalia House, Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme CompostingWhen his editor, Vox Day, published a post on his blog pitching the book. A pitch as strong as that one, made by Vox, had me intrigued. But I still had some questions.

“How extreme can stacking dead leaves and grass clippings in a pile be?”

“When he says ‘Compost Everything’, does he mean, you know, everything?”

I picked up the book to find out. My findings: composting can in fact get pretty extreme, and yes, he meant it when he said everything. The light-hearted, good-natured, and sometimes biting commentary that made up the book is emblematic of the author’s corpus. After finishing the book, I started reading David the Good’s blog and watching his YouTube videos, and I found myself with an urge to start gardening. David made gardening sound like a fun activity that even someone lazy and forgetful like myself could enjoy, and I had a good bit of empty space in the sun in the back of my townhouse.

By the time I had decided I wanted to start gardening, it was too late in the summer to accomplish anything, so instead I sat and plotted. In the meantime, the followup to Compost Everything, Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening had been released. This book was aimed squarely at someone like me. It was full of ideas about easy ways to grow crops and was very helpful in planning my gardens for my first time trying my hand at gardening.

The practicality of Grow or Die necessarily came at the expense of the insanity of Compost Everything. However, his newest book, Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Outside the Tropics arrives at a nice compromise between the two positions of his prior work. Some of the concepts contained make good fodder for worrying my fiancee, others I will actually implement in my own gardens this week as I start some plants slightly earlier than anticipated.

The central concern I imagine people have is one of whether the book is worth the five dollar cover price and handful of hours it will take to read it.  If you don’t garden at all, and you aren’t particularly intellectually curious, shame on you. However, the book is worth the price and effort of reading it, even for a cretin like you, because you will pick up a few new strange and interesting anecdotes. Acquiring interesting anecdotes will make you seem like a more interesting person, which will lead to business and personal success. That’s well worth the cover price.

Now suppose you still aren’t a gardener, but you are the intellectually curious type. Push the Zone teaches practical applications for thermodynamics that I bet you haven’t thought of before. You will have added breadth and depth to your knowledge of a seemingly everyday subject matter that some spend a lifetime studying. For the intellectually curious, that should be enough to warrant picking it up.

If you’re like me and do a little gardening where we get days at a time below freezing, and some years we get two feet of snow in a day, you’re not going to be “growing tropical plants beyond the tropics” while keeping them outside. No matter how many of David’s bag of tricks I use, I think growing citrus or Papaya along the banks of the Chesapeake is asking a bit much. However, that doesn’t mean the techniques described in the book are useless to me. On the contrary, the techniques described in the book are exactly the sorts of things that will help to extend my growing season by a few weeks. That means more productivity from my gardens, and a longer amount of time that we can eat homegrown produce.

If you’re living in the southeast US and love to try new things in your garden, this book is simply an indispensable guide. You will not only learn helpful techniques to apply to your own gardens, but you’ll learn about the author’s specific experiences with growing tropical plants in North Florida and Tennessee. That kind of first hand knowledge and experience is invaluable to help in trying new things in your own garden.

So there you have it, no matter if you are a non-gardening, intellectually incurious cretin or an adventurous gardener living in Georgia, Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Outside the Tropics is something you will enjoy and get something out of if you choose to buy it.





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