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Veg Patch: River Cottage Handbook No.4 [Hardcover]

Mark Diacono , Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
RRP: £15.39
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Book Description

16 Mar 2009 River Cottage Handbook (Book 4)
Drawing directly from his experience as an acclaimed climate-change gardener, and of setting up a kitchen garden from scratch for River Cottage, Mark explains the practical aspects of organic growing, introduces us to a whole world of vegetables we may not have previously considered, and does away with alienating gardening jargon once and for all. Mark begins with a catalogue of vegetables that will grow in this country, explaining for each their benefits, what varieties to go for, dos and don'ts, and popular culinary uses. He then invites us to create a wish list of foods, and shows us his own list from his early gardening days. Next, he explains how to turn this wish list into a coherent kitchen garden plan appropriate for our space, whether it be a patch of acidic soil, a roof-top garden or an allotment, whether we put on our wellies in every free moment or are 'time-poor' gardeners. Then he puts all the theory into practice, showing us how to look after nutrients in the soil, how to resist pests and diseases, and how to make our garden sustainable and organic. In clear, concise sections we learn about seed trays, supporting plants with climbing structures, mulching, composting, companion planting, irrigation and promoting pollination, and there are additional tables showing sowing and harvesting times, plant sizes, and alternative varieties of plants for different sites. About thirty recipes and a directory of useful addresses finish the book, and the handbook is complemented by bright colour photography throughout. Practical and inspiring, with a textured hard cover and an introduction by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Veg Patch is destined to join Handbooks No. 1, 2 and 3 as an indispensible household reference.

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Frequently Bought Together

Veg Patch: River Cottage Handbook No.4 + Herbs: River Cottage Handbook No.10 (River Cottage Handbooks) + Fruit (River Cottage Handbook No. 9)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (16 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747595348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747595342
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark runs Otter Farm, home to orchards of olives, peaches, almonds, szechuan pepper, persimmons, apricots and a vineyard, as well as some more usual edibles.

It's a climate change farm, dedicated to growing the finest food in an age of transition from peak oil. Mark is also Head Gardener at River Cottage where he grows the fruit and vegetables for the cookery school, runs the courses, and leads their continuing drive for sustainability. He's passionate about encouraging everyone to grow even a little of their own food.

Mark has recently completed A Taste of the Unexpected, which includes dozens of the finest foods you can grow and cook for yourself, many of which you may not be familiar with. The book won Food Book of the Year at the Guild of Food Writers Awards 2011.

The River Cottage Fruit Handbook was published in August 2011. His River Cottage Veg Patch Handbook was published by Bloomsbury in March 2009 and won Practical Book of the Year at the Garden Media Awards 2009.

Product Description


'My team at River Cottage really know how to find and cook good, fresh food. Together we are creating a series of handbooks crammed with expert information. They will be passionate, but practical so that you can have a really useful book to hand whenever you feel the urge to forage, preserve, bake, grow or cook' Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

About the Author

A smallholder, environmental consultant and writer, Mark Diacono is known for his commitment to sustainable, ethically produced food. He has become synonymous with climate change growing, an approach to producing food that takes sustainable advantage of the new conditions; Otter Farm, his smallholding in East Devon, has become famous as home to the UK's first olive grove, as well as orchards of almonds, peaches and apricots. Mark also works closely with the River Cottage team, and has recently planted a kitchen garden at the River Cottage stores in Axminster.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last - a gardening book that is fun to read. 13 Mar 2009
As a newcomer to growing veg, my favourite thing about this book is that for once I don't feel overwhelmed by dense text, and am not left feeling inept because I don't understand the jargon! The author Mark Diacono has done a great job of writing a book that is truly accessible for first timers, and at the same time is an informative and thought provoking resource for old hands.

As the other reviewers have mentioned, Diacono's sense of humour is a rare gem in a book like this, and his passion and enthusiasm made me want to get out in my garden immediately and start a veg patch. I particularly like the 'How to eat' section on each vegetable - the ideas are simple but really original and definitely gave me lots of new ideas for cooking veg that I already know well, and great tips for the ones that I don't.

As someone who lives in a city and has a small patio garden rather than a true 'veg patch' I particularly like the section on growing in limited space in pots and tyre stacks etc. This is a really handy section that gives all the key information at a glance and it reassured me that growing veg isn't just for those with plenty of outdoor space.

I would definitely recommened this book - as well as being fun to read and a great resource, it looks beautiful and the photography is lovely too.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy that man a drink! 11 Mar 2009
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
If you already have any of the River Cottage handbooks you'll know they are of a high standard, but this one I really loved because it has a bit of a sense of humour too.

Diacono has such an engaging way of writing. On growing cucumbers: "a revelation of cool crunch" and asparagus: "I suffer from what food writer Simon Hopkinson calls asparagus fever". And he makes having a veg patch sound so enjoyable: "If you've got better things to do at 8 o'clock on a mid-June evening than pop freshly shelled peas into your mouth as you amble round your vibrant plot with a glass of what you fancy, then life must be pretty special."

About half the book is an A-Z of possible crops, with tons of good growing advice, variety recommendations, and cooking tips. The rest is about planning your patch, then how to dig and maintain it; then about fifty pages of recipes including delights such as Baby Pea Salad and Pumpkin Meringue Pie.

(NB that the book just covers vegetables, so you will have to wait for next time for apples, berries etc. Though he does slightly break the rules and include tomatoes etc. As you'd hope.)

Diacono somehow manages to balance the need for concise advice, never over-doing it, with some lovely, inspiring, funny help. (He advises leaving a couple of leeks to flower just because of their beauty. I'm converted to the idea of trying to grow salsify, just on the basis of his evangelising. And he explains how Bugs Bunny always comes to be nibbling a carrot...)

An enjoyable, motivating book. And really cheap for what it is, especially considering it's so encyclopedic,and that it does have lovely pictures and a really good hardback binding that opens really nice and flat. A good little size that would be okay to take to the allotment too. Though judging by the text, the author would be best-pleased if you were to enjoy reading it with a nice glass of wine...
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great inspiration to grow your own.... 11 Mar 2009
Being a great fan of the River Cottage Handbook series and a regular reader of the authors' excellent blogs at [], I knew this latest read from the Fearnley-Whittingstall stable would be a gem.

With an allotment sized back garden sporting a vast collection of weeds and having nonexistent horticultural skills I was grateful when this missing link arrived on my doormat.

As mentioned by the previous reviewer, Diaconos writing style makes you want to get out and start planting, written with humour and great knowledge this excellent book takes you from planning to planting to plate.

I've bought a variety of books that try and achieve what Diacono has, many are twice the size and twice the price, but this one will take pride of place in my armoury as go forth into battle against my impenetrable weed patch.

Wish me luck, now where are my wellies!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational stuff 13 Mar 2009
What a wonderful read.
This is much more than a guide to growing your own and works on so many levels; i've found myself dipping into "veg patch" on more than one occasion simply to enjoy Marks writing, his infectious enthusiasm for his subject matter or to try one of the many delicious recipes.
Marks demystifies his subject and writes from the refreshing perspective of someone relatively new to growing who seems to want to let you in on a secret; "it's compellingly, wonderfully simple."
Veg Patch is practical, logical, well presented and laid out and no doubt will work for me as a long term reference but more than that this book has infected me, a long term city dweller, with a desire to make some life affirming changes and realise the pleasures that come from growing your own food.
For that alone this book is well worth the price.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't hesitate! Get started! 1 Sep 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a novice veggie gardener what I really needed was someone knowledgeable who would stand by my shoulder and say things like "Now you'd be better off putting your beans over there...." or "Time to get your potatoes in..." To have all this PLUS a virtual adviser telling me how to cook my bounteous harvest is exactly what I get from this book.

It's informative, concise and a great size for putting in my coat pocket while outside. Couple this with a great price and you have a winner.

So if you, like me, have contented yourself to date with two courgette plants in a grow bag or a pot of chilis on the kitchen windowsill but would like to do more - go on! Take the plunge and get growing!

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good detail
First impressions of the book are good. Excellent service provided by seller
Published 21 days ago by John Breheny
5.0 out of 5 stars Kitchen bookshelf
Perfect for the kitchen bookshelf and very useful for the allotment with lots of recipes
Published 1 month ago by TRACY GLOVER
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good book
Published 3 months ago by Mr TREV Faulkner
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to follow and great with recipes in.
Love River Cottage and this is so easy to understand, plenty of information and love the fact it has recipes to use your lovely home grown vegetables in.
Published 5 months ago by Julie
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful intro to grow your own
Fantastic book, pitched at just the right level - with the emphasis on growing for consumption, without over-complicating. Very easy to follow
Published 5 months ago by Mrs G Bullen
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
This was recommended by my garden guru friend. We have only just started growing our own on a serious level and this book is exactly what we need. Read more
Published 7 months ago by D. C. Tutton
5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful little book
Well laid out, small and easy to use.

Written by a layman for normal gardeners.

My favourite veg garden book.
Published 10 months ago by Monty
4.0 out of 5 stars Down to earth (do you see what I did then?)
As with all the books in this series, you are buying easy to understand knowledge and good sense. Very informative and a pleasure to dip into whenever needed.
Published 11 months ago by Peter Tooth
4.0 out of 5 stars A good beginners guide
I am a veg garden newbie this was recommended and does the job for me and the more ambitious grower
Published 12 months ago by Christopher Glynn
5.0 out of 5 stars River Cottage Handbook No.4
Excellent, good ideas and suggestions. Would recommend to novice and experienced garderner alike. Good book to have for everyday reference
Published 13 months ago by susan christine dannan
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