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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beginner level with a coffee-table feel, but still good in its own way
I like this book. It is not a serious self-sufficiency guide, nor a serious gardening book, but it doesn't claim to be either of those. This is one person's experience and advice re. growing food on an allotment, together with some recipes and some anecdotes. It's a book to dip into every couple of weeks to see what you might want to do at that time of year, in terms of...
Published on 18 July 2010 by J. S. Hardman

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Suburban Coffee-Table more like
We ordered this book as we are in the process of starting up an allotment and growing things in our back yard.
We found it all rather airy fairy.
There was some practical advice on the hows, whats, whens and whys, but it was all mixed in with anecdotes, recipes, arty pictures, etc that makes it seem a bit confused as to what it's purpose is.
It would make a...
Published on 12 July 2010 by T. Russell


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5.0 out of 5 stars Bite-sized tips and monthly inspiration, 15 April 2010
This review is from: New Urban Farmer (Paperback)
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I am really enjoying this book.
Firstly, it's not trying to be an "all-things-to-all-men" gardening book. If you want to know the nitty gritty about veg gardening, then this probably won't take you far enough.
But...
This book is a well-written, enjoyable journey through a year of vegetable gardening.
Although we already knew a lot about veg gardening, we have already picked up plenty of useful tips that - when we tried them out - have worked.
It's great to be able to follow along with the journey through each month and remind yourself what needs doing when. Of course, the actual timings vary a little depending on the weather and where you are in the UK, but it's still a good guide.
I also only The Allotment Book: Seasonal Planner and Cookbook, which is harder to follow, since it uses the vague notion of early / late seasons, rather than months. And I've never quite worked out when each part-season is really supposed to start and finish. The New Urban Farmer was much easier to follow in this regard.
We have tried a number of the recipes and they have worked really well. We look forward to enjoying more of them, as our veg patch moves through the year.
If you're into "heavy duty" gardening books that give you all the gory details about growing vegetables, then you might prefer a book like RHS Vegetable and Fruit Gardening.
However, if you're looking to find bite-sized, monthly inspiration, written in a way that welcomes you into the world of vegetable gardening, then this one is well worth a read.
Happy gardening!
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4.0 out of 5 stars An allotment handbook!, 29 Mar. 2010
By 
Dr.D.Treharne (Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: New Urban Farmer (Paperback)
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The title, "New Urban Farmer," gave me pause for thought. It sounded as though large acreages were involved, but they were not. The author "farms" an allotment or lotti as she affectionately calls it. She is also mindful that there can be a three year waiting list for them so frequently refers to crops you can grow in small gardens, pots and on window sills.
As the owner of a small vegetable garden, I rather envy her the allotment as it not only provides home-grown produce that makes you want to burst with pride, but with comradeship and invaluable advice, which the author passes on. The advice can seem obvious unless you are a new gardener.
Among others, we meet Fred, who goes home to over-winter in Jamaica yet still manages to produce the best crops on the allotments. There are the Sufi Muslims on the way to worship, whom she inadvertently sprinkles with water, and who invite her to dance with them at the local mosque. She also shares the plot with the urban fox, seen off by some street-wise London cats.
This book does not purport to be a gardening manual where you can find out all about growing potatoes. A short bibliography refers you to them. It is a journal in which she shares what she learned, her successes as well as setbacks. A snail crept into her greenhouse and ate her aubergines. She understandably crushed it, although she does try to be green. She does not set herself up as an expert on gardening but as an enthusiast discovering new skills and answers. Her rhubarb turned into "The Little Shop of Horrors." After researching on the internet she ruthlessly yanks off the flower head and composts it. Many gardeners have had to face these" what on earth to do next ? " moments" and are glad to make use of any source of advice.
Her make-do-and-mend attitude was appealing. Inexperienced gardeners often want new everything. Not her. She urges the reader to keep yoghurt pot, save supermarket packaging and get plastic sacks from the Turkish Deli to grow potatoes. Listen and you will save yourself a lot of money. This is very much a personal book about her own experience and development but with which many will empathize.
The book is usefully divided into seasons. Each gardening month has an at - a -glance chart of plants with when and where to plant, when to harvest as well as recipes and other information. Each page has a side panel on a seasonal plant or herb, which combines simple, general advice on preparation and growing and a recipe reference. The imperative "Key Jobs Right Now" section instructs you to stop slacking and get on right now.
As a professional cook, the author gives some mouth-watering seasonal recipes at the end of each section.
Finally, Jill Mead's photographs make the allotment look gorgeous but like a work in progress with always more to be done. So it was a pleasure to see a photograph of cherry tomatoes at the end of the season on their last legs, still with edible fruit to be plucked but indicating another task of tidying up to be done.
If you are looking for in-depth advice on growing things for the pot this book is not for you. If you enjoy sharing a friend's experiences, as it were, and picking up gardening tips and recipes on the way, this book is just up your street.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish yet practical guide to growing your own, 28 Mar. 2010
By 
Amazon Customer (Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: New Urban Farmer (Paperback)
I got the bug for 'growing your own' back in the late 90s (?) after watching the first series of River Cottage. I've since converted a large portion of my garden into growing space, and bought several River Cottage books. How does this compare? Well, very well. The great thing here is that you don't have sections on how to dismember various farm animals (or scouring your local b-roads for roadkill) as you do in the River Cottage books. It's aimed simply at the allotment (or home garden) owner so the only thing you are likely to dismember is a lettuce!

New Urban Farmer is packed with information (and lovely photos). It is surprising that in just 200 pages, so much has been included. As others have mentioned, each season is covered well: there are detailed monthly charts, instructions on what to grow and eat for each month, key gardening jobs and finally recipes. The recipes are mainly good, elegant and simple (very similar to the River Cottage ones, so if you've seen the series you'll know what to expect here), and there are many of them. Even if you're just looking for an inspirational grow-your-own style cookbook then I'd give it a go; though it is geared towards growing your own, it's also a fascinating book to just skim through, and there are enough good recipes to get you thinking in the Fruit n Veg section. Throughout, the writing style is relaxed but down to earth and informative and (despite the 'Urban' title) isn't trendy or pretentious.

In closing, you can't really fault this book. If you're thinking of growing your own, get it bought: the delicious recipes and photos will have you out there in no time, and the advice will see you do just fine. I'd also reccomend the first River Cottage book (The River Cottage Cookbook) and also Carol Klein's (Grow Your Own Veg (Rhs)).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended!, 27 Mar. 2010
By 
Apollo 11 (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: New Urban Farmer (Paperback)
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I wouldn't have initially thought this to be my kind of buy, but I have to say I think the New Urban Farmer is a truly great, and very well initiated book. Spun-off from Celia Brooks Brown's column in The Times, this is such a valuable book, crammed with information that I would recommend it to anyone that is (a) interested in cooking, but also (b) anyone that has even flirted with the idea of growing their own herbs on the windowsill.

It really does say something about the cyclical nature of trends that this entire publication is simply a compendium of the kind of wisdom that was once common knowledge, the tips for living that you would have once been able to glean from your grandparents for free - had you not thought at the time that gardening and growing your own vegetables was a bit, well, boring. However, in the absence of a wise older family member, this is the next best thing.

Laid out by months and overlaid by the four seasons, this book expertly splices together several publishing genres: the well designed contemporary, highly aspirational cookbook, and a gardening manual; one which takes into consideration all of our current fascinations and trends for organic food, whilst also putting an appealing up-to-date spin on the notion of getting your hands dirty in the soil. Therefore, not only do you get some hugely appealing recipes, but also growing tips and more in-depth information on the vegetables, fruits or herbs in question; plus, an overall guide to launching your own allotment, or successfully integrating growing patches into your existing garden. In fact, it's such a simply, yet hugely successful cross, that I'm surprised no-one has really thought to exploit this approach before.

I normally find that the mark of a great cookbook is whether it makes me want to get into the kitchen, or has me fantasizing about spending every evening for evermore in the kitchen rustling up culinary treats for friends and loved ones. And with that in mind, I reckon The New Urban Farmer is due high praise indeed, because it really did get me wanting to cook - but also convinced me once and for all that I should stop thinking about growing my own, and should just get on with it.

Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read - enjoy it for what it is, 25 Mar. 2010
This review is from: New Urban Farmer (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book follows a year on the author's allotment where she grows fruit and veg. In the inside cover it says that the book is "is part journal, part gardening manual and part recipe book" and this is an accurate description. There is a very short "Grow-Your-Own Basics" section at the front which is really only seven pages of text not including glossy images, so don't expect too much basic information in there, but if you already know something about gardening then perhaps you won't need it anyway.

Then the main part of the book starts and is divided into seasons, starting with Spring and moving through the year to Winter. A good time to be buying this book since the garden is just starting to wake up after the long winter sleep and harsh weather. Each season starts with a chart of which veg and fruit to plant now and how to plant it - indoors, outdoors, under glass etc and also what veg would be harvesting now if you had already planted them in a previous season. Also in this handy chart is a page reference to a recipe using that vegetable or fruit. This is a nice addition that is usually missing from other gardening books. What is missing from this book are any helpful pictures of how to dig a trench or how to construct support for beans etc. The pictures in the book are of pretty fruit and veg and pictures of the garden overall but this is not a manual as such. It's also very pretty and maybe a bit girly, no one's getting their hands dirty here lol

Other books that I recommend are Joe's Allotment: Planning and Planting a Productive Plot for lots of instruction, helpful images, and advice about allotments/veg plots. And also Alys Fowler's new book to go with the new BBC series, Edible Garden, which will be starting soon The Edible Garden: How to Have Your Garden and Eat It I don't have an allotment by the way but I do have a large garden in which I grow fruit and veg.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A well-illustrated and easy to follow guide, 23 Mar. 2010
By 
J. Baldwin "Reader" (Dundee, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: New Urban Farmer (Paperback)
I was describing this book to someone the other day and said it was very much like one of those celebrity recipe books people buy for the pictures, where they'll say "I must make that one day" but never do... And to be honest if you've not got a garden or allotment (like me in fact) it could very much fill that sort of "one day" role although if, like me, you're entertaining the idea of doing something about your lack of acreage, then you can't go wrong with this book as a way of educating yourself about how "easy" (or rather "achievable") some form of self-sustainability might be. It's made me look into doing something about getting a plot of land to call my own.

Whether you've already got space for an urban farm or are considering taking on an allotment, it's a great guide to a year of working your garden or allotment so that it produces the goods for you month in, month out. The text is easy to follow, the images are well shot and clear, and the whole book has been produced with care. If I had one criticism it might be that I could see a spiral binding being really useful with this, as I kept wanting to bend the covers back and prop it up or lay it flat while I made notes.
I suspect the book would be useful for seasoned (no pun intended) gardners too as it seems full of useful tips.
Also included are recipes for things to make with the produce you grow.

This book would make a great gift for someone wondering what to do with their garden. Hopefully it won't suffer the "celeb cookbook" fate and simply be stuck on a shelf somewhere for that "one day" moment. There's nothing quite so sweet as a homegrown tomato, or chutney made from them... Good luck!

In short, great book. Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Growing magic from roots to the green tips of the fingers, 23 Mar. 2010
By 
Paolo Sammut - See all my reviews
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This review is from: New Urban Farmer (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
New urban Farmer
Celia Brooks Brown

Growing magic from roots to the green tips of the fingers

This book is pure magic if you have an allotment or a garden and wish to grow your own herbs and vegetables. This very well written guide takes you through the many options available as an urban farmer before launching into a month by month guide as to what needs to be done during that particular period. Throughout this section there are numerous great looking recpies to which the fruits of ones harvest can be applied to.

As noted the first section really concerns getting started and discusses options such as using a garden vs an allotment and even how to manage a food garden using pots, even a simple windowbox (and given the price of supermarket fresh herbs ths is well worth doing). Here we will also see details such as the importance of making ones own compost and how to manage weeds.

From here we launch into the main sections of the book which cover the gardening year starting in March when things really kick off, through to February where we hear the final cry of winter before the cycle begins again. Each chapter begins with a table dictating what needs to be sown indoors, outdoors or in containerss. It then describes what can be harvested that month and indexes suitable recipes included later in the book for these ingredients. Of course in March one can sow (say) aubergines but of course one cannot harvest them until later in the year, so the recipies, logically listed against the sowing phase are really there to whet the appetite until the happy day of harvest.

Each Chapter then lists the tasks that must be completed that month before launching into a set of recipies suitable for the month based upon what is available then. This is very important for people who wish to live and eat seasonally. This pattern persists throughout the book guding the urban farmer through the year from March to February.

I really like this book. the text is clear and well written and the book itself is illustrated with copious photographs and the whole book is a valuable addition to my gardening and cooking library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dig for personal victory, 23 Mar. 2010
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: New Urban Farmer (Paperback)
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Having dug up my own lawn on moving into a new home to follow the mania for growing one's own veggies, I wanted to read this book to try to help me overcome the disappointing results I had last year. It's easy to blame the weather - too wet last summer, too cold this winter - so I needed a bit of TLC now that I've started afresh for this year. There's nothing worse than watching your tomatoes wither (ditto potatoes) thanks to blight or see your prize cuttings decimated by frost.

First off, the book is beautifully photographed. There must be hundreds of them, all reminding me of the produce I didn't produce. As the subtitle suggests, the book sets out a year on an allotment and it is very easy to follow. For a novice gardener, it is filled with helpful notes on growing on your various vegetables ready to bring them to the plate. For me, as a reasonably mature gardener, a lot of the content I knew already but it does help to be reminded of some of the simple things you should do when striving to get the best out of your garden - such as thinning your carrots the better to grow a good crop of edible ones.

Of course, gardening is a dirty business so I dread to think how this book will survive the interests of those turning the pages with grubby hands and let's not forget that gardening is also a long term project. Certainly, there's lots to be gained in produce (weather permitting) in the first year but it seems to me it's what you do year after year which really brings home the..er, bacon? This book will get you off to a good start, pitfalls and all and if you do catch the bug (oh dear, another misdirected word) you'll also learn by your mistakes. I do know that those tomatoes I did produce tasted soooh good, I can't wait to try again this year. I hope others will follow suit and first-timers will use this book to their advantage.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fruitful Food Farming, 22 Mar. 2010
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: New Urban Farmer (Paperback)
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Author Celia Brooks Brown is a food writer, teacher and professional cook with a "passion for food, and vegetables in particular". She has written books on vegetarian cooking and runs a business conducting gastronomic tours of culinary venues, and combined with her more recent commitment to gardening she is eminently qualified to write `New Urban Farmer'. A sub-title is `A Year On The Allotment' which signals what the book is about - partly a record of the author's own month by month gardening experiences, partly an instruction manual and partly a recipe book. She aims at beginners and concentrates on suggestions and advice for a small allotment, though the book is equally suited for a domestic vegetable plot, and there are hints for reliance on pots and containers.

`New Urban Farmer' is printed on top quality glossy paper with fold-over soft covers that should prove durable in use. Copious colour illustrations appear throughout at various scales from close-ups to panoramic photographs, and though most are for information there are others that are presented as attractive and mouth-watering works of art. Overall it is a lavish production with a pleasing layout of blocks and margins to the main text which is in readily understandable language and easy-to-read print, and there is a comprehensive index. After introducing basics the book is divided into 4 parts - one for each season - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter - and then into individual months starting at March and ending with February. For each month there is an A-Z table for dozens of fruits and vegetables with guidance on sowing, planting, nurturing, harvesting etc. plus notes on key jobs, and followed up with recipes geared to the products. Celia Brooks Brown concedes "rainy gardening is about as much fun as a rainy picnic" but information is packed in so plentifully there is always something to do - though sometimes it's only "dreaming of what's to come". `New Urban Farmer' is inspiring and motivating - and I am encouraged to stop just dreaming and try to grow asparagus for vegetable, have another go with strawberries for fruit, and to sample the recipe for parsnip, pear & stilton soup.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait to try recipe for parsnip, pear and stilton soup..., 25 April 2010
By 
G. E. Harrison (Cheltenham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: New Urban Farmer (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a beautiful looking and well-organised guide to vegetable growing/eating and owning an allotment from professional food writer and cook Celia Brooks Brown. There are lots of colourful and clear photographs by Jill Mead and the layout and graphics are clear and uncluttered.

The book starts with 'Grow your own basics' a short section with advice and tips growing on an allotment, in a garden and in containers. The main section of the book is a 'A year on the urban farm', which is part gardening manual, part vegetarian recipe book and part journal of a year on Celia's North London allotment. This is divided up into seasons - with hints on key jobs for each time of year, what to plant/harvest, recipes for seasonal crops and interesting gossip about her allotment neighbours. Finally there is an index, recommended suppliers (including online garden suppliers) and recommendations on further reading.

Celia admits she has only been gardening for five years and as someone who has had an allotment for 30 years I did find many of the gardening tips very basic. However, she is very enthusiastic and I liked the way she includes recycling and foraging for wild ingredients in the book as part of the same aesthetic. I think the book is probably good background reading for people coming to gardening/allotments for the first time but they would also need a much more detailed manual on vegetable growing. Can't wait to try out the recipe for parsnip, pear and Stilton soup...
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New Urban Farmer
New Urban Farmer by Celia Brooks Brown (Paperback - 5 Mar. 2010)
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