When I was looking for other reviews of the 4 Foot Farm Blueprint by Crisis Education (I found none by the way), I stumbled upon what looked like a similar eBook called Growing Up: The Ins and Outs of Up and Down Gardening from Survival Life. It’s advertised in much the same way, with a PowerPoint online infomercial, also touts the ability to grow enough food to “feed a family of 4 in just 4 square feet of space,” and is also $7. The pitch was so similar that for awhile I actually thought they might be the same product.
So, as with the 4 Foot Farm Blueprint, we went online and purchased the eBook.
First, let me walk you through the ordeal it was to actually PURCHASE this eBook, and then I’ll review the eBook itself. (Skip ahead to the review.)
I found this eBook by accident and didn’t purchase it right away. Later, we decided it was time to review it, so I visited the website to make the purchase.
However, you can’t just buy the eBook. You have to watch the video first. The first video goes on for 6 minutes before there’s a button to buy anything. If you don’t click that button right away, it will go on for another 3 minutes after that.
I filled out all of the purchase information, including a credit card number. (I *highly* recommend a prepaid card for all purchases of this ilk.) And then I got this screen.
Wait. What? My order won’t be completed until I watch this next video with an “incredible offer” I won’t see again? So if I click out, will my order be complete? Will I be able to access my eBook? I’m feeling trapped now that they have my credit card information. This second video lasted over 10 minutes before I could click “No Thanks.” This offer was for 6 DVD modules.
Once I clicked “No Thanks” a third video launched…
At least this one had a “No Thanks” option from the beginning. This one was on wilderness survival to avoid urban survival situations. I didn’t watch the whole thing. I probably should have for posterity, but I just couldn’t stomach it after the first 20 minutes of videos.
Upon completion of the order (finally!), I was given the link to login with…
But the book I ordered wasn’t to be found on that page. There was a whole assortment of books on survival topics I could also order, but I didn’t see the book pictured above.
What I did find was this other vertical gardening book with a similar title, so I took a leap of faith and click on it. Voila! It’s the right one.
It took nearly 30 minutes to complete my purchase and I didn’t even watch the full videos. Pretty sad considering I didn’t need convincing for the initial purchase. I went to the website intent on purchasing it.
You may recall that one of my big complaints about eBooks sold by online infomercial sales pitches is that, unlike a website like Amazon, you often don’t know what it is you’re getting. There’s a hyped up sales pitch, no real summary of the contents of the product, and no independent unbiased reviews of the product.
So what do you get in this eBook from Survival Life?
Well, of the 48 printed pages (skipped the title pages, etc.) you get:
- 4.5 pages of introduction and why gardening is awesome (and it is!)
- 2.5 pages of what vertical gardening is all about with a discussion of advantages/disadvantages
- 9 pages of how to build your system and what plants to put in it
- 9 pages of how and why to compost
- 1 page on the importance of growing the right things in the right season for your zone
- 12 pages of the USDA hardiness zone map and planting calendar for each zone
- 10 pages on gardening basics including traditional gardens and raised beds, soil and soil testing, and so on
So really, if your main interest is vertical gardening and you already have a decent idea of how to garden in general, you’re only getting 11.5 pages of pertinent content.
However, if you’re completely new to gardening and want to learn a bit more about both traditional gardens and vertical gardens, this isn’t a bad read. Like many self-published books, it could use a deep edit. It wasn’t organized very well and the author repeats himself a bit. But the content itself is fairly dense and informative. Seasoned gardeners will likely get very little from this eBook.
As for the claim that you can feed a family of 4 from 4 square feet of space? Doubtful.
Let me explain.
The vertical gardening method described in the eBook and pictured on the cover, is a well-tested and popular method, especially for strawberries. It uses a PVC pipe held upright in a pot. The PVC pipe has holes drilled in the side and is filled with dirt. You plant your seedlings in the holes. The author recommends holes all on one side of the 4′ tall PVC (to face towards the sun if planting outside and to give roots enough space) and only placing one hole per 12″….so there will be room for 4 plants. Let’s assume that each of these PVC setups takes up a square foot of floor space. You could fit 4 PVC pipes in 4 square feet, or 16 plants. The eBook doesn’t suggest this, but let’s also assume that you plant around the base of each PVC pipe. For ease, let’s assume that you can also plant 4 plants around each PVC pipe this way (they’d have to be smaller plants like lettuce, onions, or strawberries). That gives us a total of 32 plants…or 8 per person for a family of 4. According to The Well-Fed Homestead, you need 25-60 pea plants alone per person if you want enough to feed them for a year. Or 40-80 onions. There are obviously ways to make your planting more dense by adding extra holes based on the size of what you want to plant, but if we’re basing things just off of the author’s instructions, it’d be very difficult to manage enough produce to feed a family of 4 for a summer, let alone to fully supplement their fruits and vegetables for the year.
Even the eBook itself disagrees with this assertion, though it still overstates…
“With the tips in this book, you can produce enough vegetables and fruit to fully support a single person in as little as 2 square feet of floor space… Just by growing vertically.”
All-in-all this isn’t a bad little book on gardening that offers a solution to those with small yards or who want to grow indoors or an a balcony. And when compared to the price of a magazine, the $7 price tag isn’t horrible for what it is. But there are no secrets revealed here. There’s nothing revolutionary. Just a concise little guide on how to get started gardening.
For more information on this sort of PVC pipe vertical garden, try these websites: