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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot of interest in here
I have an allotment and it is an occasional pleasure to try a few of the more unusual crops, just to see how they work and whether they can be grown successfully in the UK. When I was bought this book as a present I was delighted with it because it's packed with ideas that I may try over the next few seasons.

Some of the reviews here have been critical,...
Published on 6 Jan. 2013 by Stephen Reid

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21 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Botany book...
As a serious grower of innovative plants and crops, I must say I am most disappointed by this book. Anyone who wants to grow something unusual needs to know: 1)where to source the seed 2)how to germinate that seed 3)how to ensure the young plant thrives 4)what to do with the crop once harvested. Mr Wong skirts round the first issue, telling us that many online suppliers...
Published on 19 Sept. 2012 by The Old Grey Witch's Test


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot of interest in here, 6 Jan. 2013
By 
Stephen Reid "Stephen" (Basingstoke) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I have an allotment and it is an occasional pleasure to try a few of the more unusual crops, just to see how they work and whether they can be grown successfully in the UK. When I was bought this book as a present I was delighted with it because it's packed with ideas that I may try over the next few seasons.

Some of the reviews here have been critical, claiming that that there is nothing new in the book. I suppose whether there is anything new for you will be a function of your expertise before reading it. I found a lot of interest in here and many suggestions to prompt me to try a few experiments and as that is the purpose of the book, I rate it highly.

As examples, some of the entries to tempt me include Shark's fin melon, Tree Chillies, Mooli, New Zealand Yam and Peruvian Ground Apple. Each suggestion comes complete with illustrations, guides to how large the plants may grow and the conditions they will need to thrive.

I find the descriptions of how the vegetables and fruits grow and which are most likely to succeed in the UK climate very useful. I am also pleased with the illustrations, which show how the plants should look if grown successfully. I can't yet speak of the quality of the recipes as I haven't tried them yet - but at least they give an example of how the produce may be used.

In terms of the book itself: good quality paper, a sturdy hard cover, clear font and high quality printing. I am very pleased with it and recommend it. Five stars.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 16 Nov. 2012
If you want to grow something different or even discover what's edible amongst the plants that might already be in your garden, then I thoroughly recommend this book. It's easy to read and is well laid out. I found some of the photos had an annoying lack of depth of field, sometimes leaving the front of a plant out of focus, and would like to have seen some sort of legend for the full page illustrations. I found the Latin names a little difficult to read in that font, which is annoying because I would want to make sure I had the correct plant.

I bought James Wong's book at a talk he gave last night at Writtle College as part of the "Edible Essex" campaign, part of the Rural Community Council of Essex and sponsored by the Big Lottery Local Food Scheme and Essex County Council.

To a certain extent, James was preaching to the semi-converted in me. Now that I no longer have an allotment and my garden is somewhat overshadowed, I have to be choosy about what I grow, so it makes sense to grow things which are difficult or impossible to buy in the shops. I also need things which are neglect-tolerant, because I get awfully absent-minded when writing and barely remember to feed the family, let alone cosset my plants.

I haven't read every word yet, but I've had a good skim through and I'm delighted with this book.

James Wong's book is full of revelations about what is edible, and how to use them, even in a small space like a balcony or a window sill. I have flirted with micro-greens and will do so more now. I was really pleased to see how to deal with olives, though my olive tree hasn't yet fruited. I was aware that Daylily buds are edible, even put a couple in a stir-fry once, but was worried that perhaps the non-flower parts weren't edible. I'm much more reassured after reading James Wong's book.

I had no idea that Shuttlecock fern crooks were edible. I think I'd read it somewhere before, in fiction, but with a feeling of disbelief because I thought they were mildly toxic. I have a shuttlecock fern (I think: the mail-order nursery did a good job of mislabelling a whole batch of plants they sent me so I'm not sure). Perhaps I'll try them now I know how to prepare them.

Dahlias. OK, I've looked at the tubers before and wondered, but it turns out they are edible and were a foodstuff before they became popular as flowers. Trouble is, I haven't got room to grow them. Another tub, maybe.

Wasabi. I want to grow this, now, thanks James, especially if it grows in shade. The problem is, it apparently needs damp too, something which isn't a feature of the Essex climate.

New Zealand Yams is another thing I'd like to grow, but again, I don't have anywhere to grow them.

I was chuffed to find that the Calamondin oranges are actually used when green as limes because I recently bought one heavily reduced from the supermarket because it was on its best before date (seriously!). I was going to use the little oranges in windfall marmalade, but I'm a tad worried about pesticides as it's supposed to be an ornamental. I ought, as James Wong puts it, to allow it to "detox" for six months to a year. But those little oranges do look rather tempting.

The Japanese honeysuckle on my fence has now had a stay of execution. I never knew I could use the flowers in tea.

I have grown or am currently growing quite a few of the plants in the book. I have grown Physalis, and like them, but they were leggy and unproductive. Perhaps I was too kind to them. I also grew a dwarf form, but the fruit were dwarf too, which annoyed me. I grow tomatillos but I'm not sure about the flavour. It's lemony, but to me has undertones of washing up liquid. I made some chutney with one crop but didn't really like it. I might persist with them and get to like them. (I used not to like courgettes but love them now.) I knew Houttuynia cordata was edible, and used to grow it, but the smell is just revolting to me, sort of dank, but I feel the same way about Vietnamese coriander, coriander itself, and even jasmine, so I think it's a personal antipathy. Houttuynia grows so easily it can be invasive.

I have wanted a tea bush for years. It wasn't until a trip to the Eden Project that I realised they will grow here, though I fear it may be a little hot and dry in Essex.

James Wong's book is a revelation in that there are far more interesting and edible plants available than I was aware of, things which are garden ornamentals or houseplants, or just easy to grow. I wish my garden was big enough to grow all these shrubs and plants which are hardy in the UK but which have, by chance, fallen out of favour. And I miss my allotment. I really, really miss my allotment.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab !, 12 Sept. 2012
James Wong's Homegrown Revolution surely has to be the 21st century 'Grow Your Own' bible. It even starts with Ten Commandments, guiding principles, to help you along the way!

James's enthusiasm oozes from every page and the photos and illustrations are really helpful. At long last we have a 'Grow Your Own' book that actually matches our 21st century eating habits. Gardening terms and techniques are completely demystified for novices, but even experienced allotmenteers, who may have been unwittingly stuck in the post war vegetable time warp, will be inspired. As if that isn't enough, recipes and ideas abound for using our exciting and valuable garden bounty, as well as handy info on equipment and suppliers!

This book is brilliant, refreshingly inspirational and its title is so apt, heralding the arrival of a truly new era in 'Grow Your own'.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Let the Homegrown Revolution Begin', 19 Sept. 2012
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James Wong's 'Homegrown Revolution' is the ideal book/gift for anyone with an interest or passion for gardening and an interest in food.

James' aim is to inspire and hopefully change the way we look at, not just homegrown crop gardening, but what we eat. Less of the common everyday fruit and veg (potatoes, carrots, cabbages, cauliflowers etc) many of which are hard to grow, provide little yield, and are readily available and cheap to buy. More of new tastes and flavours from growing unusual, edible plants; some of which may already be in your garden (daylilies, dahlias, fiddlehead fern). Plus more unusual and exciting foods (goji berries, inca berries, electric daisies, cucamelons), which are often rare and/or expensive to buy. These unbelievably, can be grown at minimal cost, in our UK climate with a high yield. They are easy, if not easier, to grow and maintain as any tomato plant, whilst keeping your garden pretty and functional.

The book concentrates on 80 unusual edible plants from the 120 trialled by James in his small UK garden over the past 2 years. All the plants were grown, harvested and eaten by him so he has truly provided first hand knowledge.

However this book is much more than that, it's an invaluable guide and confidence booster to any newbie gardener, allotmenteer or dejected gardener who has tried, failed and is unsure of what went wrong and what to do next.

James starts with his '10 Commandments' and 'Tips and Tricks' - basically a guide of all you need to know to successfully create, grow and maintain your plants/garden. This section in particular has lots of 'I can do that', 'that makes sense' and 'I did not know that' moments, instantly making you say "Yes I do know a bit about gardening after all" and making you eager to get out there and do some gardening.

The next section belongs to the 80 exciting new edibles. Each plant is introduced, followed by a 'how to grow them' guide and a 'harvesting and eating' guide covering their texture, taste, how to cook them and what to eat them with, accompanied by an illustration and photo of each plant, many also with a related recipe.

To end, is a section dealing with 'Garden Essentials' containing a 'Geek Speak Glossary', 'List of places to inspire' and a 'Suppliers Directory'.

What I love most about this book is the engaging and flowing way it is written, it's full of useful information which is easily absorbed and retained and rather than scare you it excites and inspires you to be adventurous, to get out there and grow these new unusual edible plants.

Even if it is still your intention to grow your normal fruit and veg, why not make space for a few of these new edible plants, you may be surprised where it leads!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Unusual Crops, 3 Jun. 2015
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We have a small courtyard garden which will no doubt feature heavily in future blog posts. As a biologist who works with crops and wildlife I've been trying to make our tiny space more productive. With limited space and only pots to grow in I've got one rule which we're trying to stick to - everything in the garden must be edible. This is surprisingly easy and this book has been extremely helpful and interesting with a clear layout, growing tips and recipes. The fruit and veg in this book are a bit different and often much more decorative than the turnips and cabbages most people grow in their veggie patch. Well worth a read if you're interested in gardening - surprisingly many common garden plants have some edible parts. I'm giving quite a few of these crops a go including popping corn, sweet potatoes, tea plants, cannas, guava berries and an assortment of edible flowers. Time will tell if I have anything to harvest later in the year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Revolution Revelation, 27 Feb. 2013
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I've had a longtime interest in using food as medicine and whilst this book is not a medicinal book, the revelation was in how many of these plants add to your health. The other revelation was in what plants we can grow here in the UK, outside without pouring money into glass houses and heating systems. Who would have thought that these garden favourites could also be food! I just can't wait to try some of these plants/shrubs/trees there is I believe something for everyone, even those of us who must make do with a sunny windowsill.

Well done James an intriguing and interesting take on useful but decorative and (hopefully) delicious everyday plants, as well as some more exotic varieties.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this one it would be a great Christmas present!, 29 Oct. 2012
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James Wong is already known for his book "Grow your own drugs" but this book goes one step further and introduces all sorts of crops to grow at home that would be expensive to purchase from the supermarket. Each one he suggests is accompanied by full instructions as to sowing, planting and harvesting. I have already bought another copy of this book as a gift for friends who are keen gardeners and have found that others who are not so keen become very enthusiastic once they start delving into the pages. James Wong has included a list of possible suppliers of bulbs, seeds and plants at the back of the book. Before long there will be unusual crops springing up all around the country!
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5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely love it, 22 Oct. 2012
I have all of James's books and love every single one, although after reading some reviews I was a little scepticle about this one, but I am pleased to say I was not disappointed, James did not let me down. I love to experiment with new plants and this gave me plenty of ideas - many I never even considered growing in England, some completely new, but most surprising was the wealth of food I had already in the flower beds and didn't know it. The book included notes on how to grow, harvesting and recipes, and I haven't even mentioned the natural colours and flavours we can all grow and make. A brilliant book and one I shall be refering back to over and over again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas for growing unusual plants, 26 Nov. 2013
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BE CARTER (Plymouth,Devon) - See all my reviews
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James Wong can always be relied on to come up with new and unusual ways of growing and using plants.This book inspires you to try some of his suggestions on growing and eating plants that are not the norm.I'm not sure that I want to try some of them but it would be fun to experiment and as he says to grow things other than the usual carrots and cabbage.
The pictures are attractive and the information is set out simply.
I have enjoyed reading it and will certainly try to grow one of the plants suggested.
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5.0 out of 5 stars get excited up the allotment, 7 Oct. 2012
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Heard a talk by James Wong about changing what we grow from vegetables that are cheap to buy, and not very exciting, to unusual veg that we pay a premium for in the shops... it was inspiring and so I bought the book! Excellent! Allotments are hard work, and you need to keep your enthusiasm going despite weather and pest set backs- this is a great boost to get veggie enthusiasts adrenaline flowing again! Buy it, buy the seeds, and then enjoy cooking up great,exciting dishes.
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