Enabling change in our Society, Environment and Economy (SEE)

One Magic Square

Book Review by Audrey Severino, Woden SEE-Change member

Wakefield Press, 2008, reprinted 2013

By Lolo Houbein

Lolo Houbein’s book starts with an immediate call to action – dig the one square metre now, remove weeds, clean your hands and read on.  As not the most active or committed gardener on the patch, this got my attention and I think it will get yours.

Learning that I could choose to start with a pizza/pasta plot or a stir-fry plot, maybe even an Aztec plot got my tastebuds tingling.  I thought this was a fun way to tackle gardening for those just starting out and even for those more experienced.

From the book I learnt that a square metre plot can produce enough to provide 3 to 4 people with a small daily salad if the plot is feed and watered well with seeds and seedlings planted in regularly. Well that sounds pretty good to me.

The step-by-step guide that focuses on just the one plot makes the task less daunting and you can let your imagination run free with the planning and establishment of several plots as you get the hang of it all.  You are guided through how to prepare the soil and what to feed your plants, all very well laid out with simple diagrams. You quickly get a picture of what you can plant and eat.

The book is perfect for Canberra as there is an all seasons section for temperate climates.

I enjoyed reading this guide to growing your own food and think its simplicity will appeal to most.

With thanks to our


  • ACT Government Environment and Planning
  • The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT (AISACT)
  • Catholic Education Office (Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
  • Education and Training Directorate
  • ACT Government