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Veg Patch: River Cottage Handbook No.4 Hardcover – 16 Mar 2009

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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: 13.1 x 2.7 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,002 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.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Laura C. Sequeira on 13 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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 By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By S. Woolger on 11 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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 By Chris Yates on 13 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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 By Angie Lawrence on 1 Sept. 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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