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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 22 March 2010
Gardeners World presenter Alys Fowler has created a gorgeous book. Alys takes the sort of approach I like - no rigid planning, no particular rules to abide by, simply recommendations to help you along. As she says, your own experience is far more valuable to you than reading things in a book. She is an experienced and accomplished gardener and her recommendations are very good - trees that will rob your garden of productivity vs trees that give you beauty, scent and marvellous fruit. She also covers how to make the most of the space you have and how to exploit the unique aspects of your garden. Divided into 3 simple parts:

Things to know: In order to reap the rewards of your garden you have to know a few things about it, such as soil type and how to keep your plants happy. This also includes foraging, growing in pots, recommendations of deorative edible vegetables - making the most of your pot garden. She also takes you through fertility and compost, including how to make your own. The book then goes on to getting the garden started - seed sowing (including when and where), pricking out, hardening off, weeds (and what to do with them), watering and pests and diseases - including the pesky slug (Alys squishes them). Recommendations for speedy crops and plant protection (this includes an innovative picture of a greenhouse constructed using old windows, including stained glass. I'll be keeping my eyes open in the local scrap yard!). A good overview of how to give yourself a stable start for your edible garden.

Things to grow: In this section Alys gives us the lowdown on her favourite fruit, vegetables and flowers to grow - because they taste good, provide a plentiful harvest and look good. This is a brilliant section - I'm always flummoxed when I stand in front of the seed racks to know what is really good. Getting the answer from someone who has tried numerous varieties and come up with a lovely list is so handy. This section also covers seed saving for the next year, including a germination test.

Reaping your harvest: Includes bottling and preserving - recipes for a number of things including jams (raspberry), jellies (blackberry and apple), pickles, chutneys, brews etc. Alys also covers freezing and apple drying. She includes recipes for a number of other bits and pieces - nettle soup, japanese knotweed spears (!) - make sure no-one has sprayed it with herbicide before you try, scafata (an Umbrian stew m,ade with broad beans, tomatoes and a late winter green), her own version of salad nicoise, raspberry icecream and blackcurrant and chestnut icecream. Alys's recipes are divided up by season (I've covered Spring and Summer for a taste), the recipes are simple and sound nice and I will be trying some. This isn't a recipe book though, some don't expect pages and pages of them.

Non-gloss pages all add to wholesome effect, the book is littered throughout with simple drawings and inspiring photos. Alys's book has renewed my enthusiasm to try some different varieties and persist with growing my own.
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on 23 April 2010
I loved this book. Beautifully put together and encapsulating Fowler's quirky hippy charm it inspires you to get out there and make the most of whatever outdoor space you have. It opens your mind to a new approach towards growing your own and brings the notion of polyculture to a mainstream audience. Fowler's enthusiasm for fresh, home grown veg is clear, and infectious, and will have you reaching for your wellies and gardening gloves in no time.
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on 29 April 2010
Alys' book is very pretty, and there are some useful bits; but I find the chapters very awkward to follow, it jumps around quite a lot, and nothing is dealt with in great detail. I was expecting more information than we got in the TV programme, and I felt a little let down. Very good section on the various types of compost for container planting; but her chapter on foraging almost seems an afterthought - I am hoping she is planning a whole book dedicated to the subject, which may explain why her advice amounted to 'buy a good reference book'.

Definitely one to depress those of us who need somewhere to dry clothes and house a slide and a sandpit (or, heaven forbid, a deckchair), because her garden is stunning, but what most of us (or our neighbours) would probably despair of outside the summer months - I definitely think the fact she is a professional horticulturalist puts her on a bit of a pedestal - if my garden looked like that my neighbours would probably complain to the council that it 'needs seeing to'! The explanations of permaculture / polyculture were very good, she has a lovely, approachable way of writing that explains things really well for beginners, and there's a nice chapter on edible flowers. I wish, ruefully, that I'd bought 'The Thrifty Gardener' instead.

In all, a pretty, easy to read and inspirational book more suited to the coffee table than a resource for growing healthy crops as easily as possible. If that's what you want, look to John Harrison instead.
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on 20 March 2010
This book was really helpful - and also really beautiful and accessible. It is arranged so I will be able to refer to it through out the growing season, which is useful because this is my first year to grow my own food in my back garden.
Well worth it.
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on 22 June 2010
A beautiful book, which covers growing a more unusual range of plants than most vegetable gardening books. However, the poor punctuation and sentence structure is very distracting. Maybe it's a reflection of Ms Fowler's relaxed style of gardening in which plants are allowed to rub up against each other, but the use of strings of sentences separated by commas is tiresome.
And what is a 'chicken coup' (page 133)?
Is it a) a rebellion carried out by hens
b) a misspelled poultry house?
Surely BBC Books could stretch to a decent proofreader?
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on 10 January 2015
Wonderful book for any organic gardener. Alys Fowler never fails to inspire. I bought this book after reading it from the library last year. Loved it so much I wanted my own copy. It makes the dark nights and mornings of January better to read this and dare to dream of the glorious sowing, planting and harvesting ahead <3
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on 14 April 2010
Absolutely stunning book, loads of useful ideas and tips. I have gardened like this for a number of years but she still managed to provide some new hints and tips. Beautiful photography too
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on 29 April 2010
In The Edible Garden, Alys Fowler is trying out a new (to her) system of gardening that's variously called polyculture, edible landscaping, decorative kitchen gardening and ornamental edibles. The idea is to turn a smallish garden into an edible paradise, and the book explains clearly how you might go about that.

Alys covers all the basics about growing from seed, fertilizing, making compost and green manures that you will need to grow edibles without resorting to chemical fertilizers and pesticides. She goes on to have a good look at plants you might like to have in your garden - from common vegetables, herbs and fruits through to perennial vegetables and more unusual specimens you may not have come across, as well as edible flowers. She's clear about what can grow in a container and what is only really viable when planted in the ground.

Then there's a big section on using your harvest, including ideas for preserves and chutneys as well as recipes for meals using the produce from your garden and wild plants you've foraged. She touches on fermentation, motors on through herbal teas and ends up with fruit liqueurs and cocktails, so there really should be something to appeal to everyone.

Detailed, informative and inspiring, Alys has come up with a book that encourages people to get out in the garden and grow something to eat, and is a good effort at describing a way of growing edibles that doesn't follow the normal 'straight row' standard. All in all this is one that any laid back vegetable grower would enjoy having a regular dip into.
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on 18 October 2013
Great ideas to be utilized - saw the television programme & much later had the book downloaded on my Kindle. I found it full of interesting ideas & helpful information when creating or preparing your own edible garden. Can't seem to fault the book at all - and why should I - It tells you what to do and how to do it however green [or not as the case may be] your fingers may be.

If growing your own is your thing - then go for it
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on 14 April 2010
This book is one of those that on a wet day you can curl up and dream of time in your garden.Beautifully set out with practical advice and written by someone with passion in her gardening and a wish to impart knowledge and courage to the novice gardener- definitely to be recommended.
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