Personally, I'm taking heed from parts in each of these books as I go about reclaiming another weed infested, Budddleia and dock riddled allotment plot. From reusing materials, reclaiming useful plants and using some patience when designing the future plot, each of these books can and will help anyone in a similar position and anyone else embarking on growing their own.
The book itself is packed with useful information, personal accounts and quirky illustrations by Dave’s partner Ellie Mains. Divided into seasons, the book takes you right through the growing year, but unlike other gardening books this one is different and feels refreshingly new. Modern topics, holistic approaches and practical advice are all combined with the more traditional way of growing crops to provide a healthy tome for the new gardener and snippets of useful information for the seasoned pro. I particularly loved the way Dave encourages the reader to evaluate and plan any new site, to see what’s already there and to work around what’s useful. Dave’s origami bags are something to envy, I need to master this art as I’m forever looking for a bucket or pockets in which to carry eggs and vegetables, but I think I’ll leave the humanure to the pro’s.
This book is a great read with serious issues at its heart and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is interested in growing their own food or gardening with sustainability in mind. You can follow Dave on Twitter here.
Emma takes the reader through the history of allotments, picking a site, plot maintenance and then moves on to growing and using crops. There’s an extensive list of crop profiles in the book and the growing calendar in the back of the book is quite a useful quick reference. Emma also incorporates a few recipes to help you use up your harvest and personally I’d like to see more of this. Maybe in the next book Emma?
If you’re starting an allotment or thinking of getting one then this book is a great start and Emma's writing style and knowledgable offerings are always a joy to read. You might also be interested in reading a past interview with Emma from back in 2009 when she published ‘The Alternative Kitchen Garden an A-Z’ or visiting her website here. The Allotment Pocket Bible by Emma Cooper (£9.99, Pocket Bibles) is available from www.crimsonpublishing.co.uk and all good book shops.
If you are looking for some insight in to allotment life, if you hanker for some handy tips or even if you simply want to delve in to a world completely alien to your own then this may be just what you need.
Reader’s Digest. This weighty book is much more encyclopaedic than the others discussed and is beautifully presented with a wealth of photographs and illustrations. First published in 1977, this new edition brings everything right up to date.
The strap line on the front of the book reads: ‘All you need to know to grow, cook and preserve your own fruit and vegetables’, and it sets out to do just this. The 320 page book is divided in to five colour coded sections taking the reader right through a basic guide to the kitchen garden, growing and cooking, the food-growers calendar, identifying pests and diseases, and home preserving. Each section is easy to read and packed full of useful information that would guide even the newest gardener to food growing success.
This book is great for anyone who’s interested in growing their own and is sure to be a hit with the novice, amateur and seasoned allotmenteer alike, as many subjects and techniques are discussed. The book has depth and the layout works really well making it a great read and resource. The chapter on preserving really stood out and took this book to another level as not only does it guide you through growing your own produce but it also informs you on how to get the most out of your produce.
If any of these books have taken your fancy or if you want to read more please click here. Also, for your chance to win a copy of 'Grow Your Own Food for Free: Well Almost' and 'The Allotment Pocket Bible' simply email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name and contact details.
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