Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Book review: Taste of the Unexpected

A Taste of the Unexpected. Mark DiaconoA Taste of the Unexpected. Mark Diacono by Diacono

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a bit different to other veg gardening books I have read. It doesn’t include the usual suspects of carrots, spuds and tomatoes, but tells you to make a wishlist of things you would like to eat and then see if it is possible to grow them. And surprisingly you can actually grow quite a few unusual things in the UK.
The book includes fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds, herbs.
I like the way Mark Diacono writes and regularly read his blog posts.
This book certainly gives you things to think about growing that are definitely a little out of the ordinary. After all, you can buy spuds and carrots anywhere can’t you? (Saying that though, this is my first proper growing year so i have included these in my small veg patch. But I might have a think about including some of these “unexpected” plants in the future.)

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Book Review: Grow Something to Eat Every Day

Grow Something to Eat Every Day. Jo WhittinghamGrow Something to Eat Every Day. Jo Whittingham by Jo Whittingham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is great for telling you what to sow, harvest and maintain in the vegetable garden for each month. If you like lots of colourful photos there are plenty here, in fact every page is full of them with the text mainly in boxes next to the pictures. But there are also full pages dedicated to a single type of veg and suggestions on good reliable varieties to grow.
It’s a shame this has to go back to the library, it may be a book I will actually buy.

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Book review: Meet the Microorganisms, The Organic Compost Guide (Kindle edition)

Meet The Microorganisms - The Organic Compost GuideMeet The Microorganisms – The Organic Compost Guide by Victor M. Barnes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great guide to how to make compost for your garden. What to put in, what to leave out and how to keep it all healthy and rotting away. There is also a section for trouble shooting if your compost pile isn’t doing what it should.

Ideal for beginners, but also helpful for those who already make their own compost but are maybe having some problems with it.

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be available on Amazon at the moment.

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Kindle book review: How to Grow Successful Tomatoes

How to Grow Successful Tomatoes by Helen Crapnell

My rating 2/5

This was a free Kindle book at the time I downloaded it, but is now 77p.  I wouldn’t pay for it to be honest.  It is very short and basic, and has a lot of typos in it.  You could get all the information in it from a magazine article or a chapter in a veg growing book.  It might be ok for a complete beginner who has never bought a gardening book or magazine and has been given a packet of tomato seeds.

Quick veg patch update

The new growing year hasn’t properly started yet but my patch isn’t bare.  Somehow the things I planted in the autumn are surviving – some just about!

Here is the bed near the end of November

22nd November 2011

And here it is today

25th January 2012

Not a HUGE difference but there is definitely growth there.  The onions and garlic have put on a little spurt since we had a hard frost.  I’m not sure if the peas (top left) are going to flourish so I’ll sow some more of those in pots to transfer later.  At the far end is where my spuds are going to go.  I’ve ordered them today – 6 tubers each of Arran Pilot, International Kidney and Desiree.  I’ve only ordered a few because I don’t want them to take up too much of the remaining space, I need some room for my beans and carrots and whatever else I want to have a go at.  I think I’ll stick with containers for the tomatoes.  I’m going to put herbs around the outside of the fencing as the dofg doesn’t seem inclined to eat those.  And also some companion flowers to attract insects.

I finally got round to phoning the council at the beginning of the month and have got my name down on the allotment waiting list!  It is at least two years long but the way I see it is that by then I’ll either really want it and have a bit of experience, or the novelty will have worn off before investing a lot of effort in a whole plot.  In the meantime I’ve got this little patch and my containers to practice in.

For those of you who have a Kindle (or other means of reading Kindle books), I got hold of these two ebooks recently.  I haven’t actually read them yet so can’t vouch for them.  They were free at the time I got them, but I’ve just checked and they are now £2.55 each

Organic Solutions to Everyday Garden Problems

Organic Compost Guide

I’ll review them when I’ve had a chance to read them.

Reading a lot!

Oh dear, nothing of gardening interest to report at the moment.  The weather is cold and wet and the things I planted in the autumn seem to be trundling along nicely.

In the meantime I have been reading quite a lot.  If you would like to see what I’ve been reading, pop over to my other blog Knitsamadworld.

There will be an update here soon!!

Book review: An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About ItAn Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Whilst I was reading this book (which only took me less than 2 hours this morning) it seemed very basic, with lots of colourful pictures and very basic representations of graphs etc. Sentences like “a scientist said that…..” or “some scientists think that……” with no reference to who these scientists were! It was only when I finished the book and looked properly at the front cover that I realised it was a young person’s edition for 12 years and up!! Whoops, that explained it!. Luckily I’d bought it secondhand from and have relisted it for sale on that same site.
Anyway, if you have/know a child around the start of high school this would be a good introduction to global warming issues. It covers topics like melting of ice caps, CO2 emissions etc and how it is the human population of the earth which is causing all the problems. It does suggest a few changes we can make like hybrid cars and CFL lightbulbs but doesn’t go into details (I would hope this was covered in the adult edition).
However it passed a couple of hours hiding from the nasty weather (a consequence of our disregard for the planet perhaps?).

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Book review: Cabbages & Roses Guide to Natural Housekeeping

Cabbages and Roses Guide to Natural Housekeeping (Cabbages & Roses Guide) (Cabbages & Roses Guide)Cabbages and Roses Guide to Natural Housekeeping (Cabbages & Roses Guide) by Christina Strutt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great recommendation from a friend, I may think of getting my own copy, or at least copying out some of the useful tips before it goes back to the library.
I was particularly interested in the section about making your own household cleaning products, as although I use eco-friendly brands like Ecover, I’m still not really sure what is in them – anyone know what an anionic surfactant is?? This book implies that if you have water, bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar, you can clean virtually anything. I’m definitely giving it a go.
There are also some interesting gift suggestions for scouring antique markets and shops for presents rather than buying something new (and probably plastic!).
A good section on gardening, and the uses of herbs.
And it is all written in an easy to read style, as if you were getting advice from a friend.

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Late November roundup

Yesterday I received two raspberry canes from a “free if you pay P&P” offer in Grow Your Own magazine.  Basically they sent me two sticks with roots on the bottom!  Anyway I’m not really sure where I want them to go but I obviously needed to get them in somewhere for now or they really would end up as just two dead sticks so I have put them in the veg bed against the fence.  One is called Polka which is an autumn fruiting variety, and the other is a summer fruiting Glen Ample.  I don’t know if I will get any fruit next year but we’ll see.

While I was outside I took a few photos of the late November veg patch

Overwintering veg

I got some of those FlexiBalls to build a low cage over the cabbages because I think the pigeons will start eyeing them up soon.  And also threw some organic wool slug pellets around them because something has already had a go.  These pellets are completely safe and made from the clinkers off a sheep’s bum! Nice!! They ponged a bit when I opened the bag. They are a good fertiliser too but whether they keep the slugs off is another matter.

Cabbages and new raspberry cane Glen Ample (back left)

There is a mystery with the garlic.  Quite a few of the organic Vallelado are coming up, but so far not one single shoot of the Solent Wight.  This is a photo of the onions with the garlic on the right, and the Polka raspberry at the back.

Onions, garlic and new raspberry cane Polka

These are my peas and broad beans, the peas are just starting to curl their little tendrils around the sticks

Peas (front) and broad beans (back)

And finally the sweet peas in pots in the growhouse

Sweet peas in growhouse

And that’s about it really.  I did have a quick look at the rhubarb and it looks like there might be a big shoot developing on the top of the crown.  I hope it doesn’t start growing yet.

I am currently reading a book a friend recommended to me called Cabbages & Roses Guide to Natural Housekeeping.  It’s amazing what you can do with a bit of Bicarb of Soda and some white vinegar!!  Haven’t tried any yet but will do soon.  It’s all much more eco-friendly than the cupboard full of poisons most people have in their houses.

Book review: The Allotment Chef

The Allotment Chef: Home-grown Recipes and Seasonal StoriesThe Allotment Chef: Home-grown Recipes and Seasonal Stories by Paul Merrett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third book in a row that I have read about someone starting an allotment and how they fared. This one is written by a chef from London (all three have been based in London!) who decides to grow his own produce and then write a book about it with recipes using the stuff he grows.

The first half is the biography bit, the obtaining of the allotment and the trials and tribulations of clearing it, planting, getting the family involved, trying not to visit the supermarket ever again, etc. Again it is not a how-to book but is fun and interesting.

The second half is the recipe section, with which I think the author has used some artistic license. I don’t think all the produce in the recipes came from his allotment but they do all look very tasty and hopefully I’ll give some of them a go.

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