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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 13 March 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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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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on 11 March 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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on 1 September 2009
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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on 13 March 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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on 1 June 2010
I love the River Cottage and I have most of the books in the series so in the process of getting my new garden started I was excited when this book arrived some months ago... However I haven't really used it that much and realise why -Its not actually that useful! Yes it is a good handy size and yes it has some nice pictures but even as a pocket sized book it is missing the key information that beginners and expereinced gardener need. Save your money and get the RHS allotment or Alys Fowler Edible Garden.
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on 16 March 2015
The best veg gardening book ever. I have a copy for myself and have bought this one for my sister who is getting into veg gardening. Its all about organic but the thing i like best about it is it actually inspires you to garden as well as being ultimately practical with guides on setting up your patch crop rotation when to plant and harvest stuff and all the details. Cant recommend this book enough. 5 years on I still use this all the time to plan my patch each year and try new things.
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on 6 April 2009
OK lets be serious for just a moment what we have here is the best book on veg growing that I have come across so far. Written by Mark Diancono teacher and head gardener at the River Cottage, this mans knowledge and passion is evident on every page. Backed up with some inspiring photography this manual / bible has become my new best friend.

All the veg you would expect to see are here with information on their plant group, when to sow and harvest, varieties, how to grow, how to harvest, problems and pests and how to eat. ( and no it's not obvious ! ) On top of this we have a chapter on planning your veg patch, creating your veg patch and maintaining it. finally a chapter of recipes are included none of which I've tried yet but the intention is there. This is just bursting with hints and valuable tips so if you're thinking of growing your own this book is essential reading. For the established gardener it will prove useful in pulling a lot of info into the one source and maybe adding some new stuff as well. I loved it.
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on 5 March 2014
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.

3rd River Cottage Handbook and love them all.
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on 21 September 2011
This is a really simple and easy to use book with all the information you need for your own veg garden. Others I have looked at have been too complex and don't clealry articulate garden rotations etc. Definitely get this book if you want a succinct and easy guide to growing your own veg.
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