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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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 sowing, harvesting and cooking. I haven't read it cover to cover yet, I am doing the regular dip into it, so will probably take the whole year to get through it, which is my practice with other more serious and more detailed gardening books that are divided into months or seasons. However, I have found New Urban Farmer easy to read and useful, despite its beginner level feel. I wouldn't say I have learned a lot from it (I have read many other gardening books and have been growing vegetables on and off for years), but have learned some bits - that you can eat the leaves of courgettes and cucumbers was news to me, but something I will try this summer.

As other reviewers have said, it has the feel of a coffee table book rather than something you keep in the shed or greenhouse, but despite that I do keep it in my practical book corner rather than anywhere near the proverbial coffee table. If you are serious about gardening this will definitely not be your only guide to the gardening year, it's not detailed enough for that, but it does have a fresh feel to it, which reflects the author's previous writing experience.
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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VINE VOICEon 13 August 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was really pleased with this book. I've only had a greenhouse for the last couple of years, and I've now got a small vegetable patch in the garden as well. This book is very readable, and combines a diary style format of telling you what to plant when, and what you should be doing each month of the year, with a general text with lots of useful information.

There are specialist bits of information you may want that you won't find here, but given that few books can easily cover every detail, I felt this one got the balance about right. Some of the gardening books out there are far too detailed for a beginner, and the basics get lost in a sea of information. Start with this one, and buy something more complex (and probably a lot dryer to read!) a bit later.

One of the most useful elements I found in the book was the guide in the diary section on roughly how long various vegetables will take to grow. I'm growing pumpkins for the first time, and I don't want to find they're all ripe well before Halloween! All the other basic infomation I needed was here as well - when to plant seeds, whether to grow something in the greenhouse or outside, when to trim leaves off a vegetable, which vegetables can be grown successfully together (apparently I could have grown squash in the spaces between my sweetcorn, but I didn't read that bit until it was too late - something for next year!). I'm not a gardening expert (and probably never will be) but I have managed to grow vegetables that I haven't grown before, using this book as a guide.
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on 23 March 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't own an allotement, nor a vegetable patch. But after a wonderful weekend reading the brilliant New Urban Farmer - what can I say - I want one (now)!

This is a lovely gentle, diary style book taking you from the begenning of the planting and growing season in early march, right through to the end of autumn. Along the way, Celia Brooks Brown tells you of her joys and successes, tales both of and from her fellow growers, and suggests ways to eat and store the bounty that came her way.

In an impatient world (see my flippant demand above!) this book feels very much a lesson in taking the time to slow up, and put the effort in producing what you need in terms of all things fruit vegetable and herb.

No great preachy or technical sense about it in any way, just a good grounding in what to do around each week or so, what grows well, and how to use it through some delicious recipes and invaluable advice on storage.

Glossy thick pages, easy to read sections with top tips in the sidebars, and beautiful colour photography throughout. This book would make a lovely gift, or a treat for yourself.

I'm going to start with tubs and pots, both inside and out. Potatoes (got to get going on those now), tomatoes, courgettes, basil, strawberries and leeks are the treasures I shall start out with. I can't wait!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 March 2010
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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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The first thing I noticed about this book was the size. There's nothing more off putting than an A4 `How to Garden' book, because I feel always feel guilty knowing that I won't look at every page. However, this isn't a book about how to raise every fruit and vegetable known to man, and I don't think that is the intention. Celia Brooks Brown has produced a book that is part journal, part `how to grow', and part recipe book, and it is this combination that makes it so attractive. Nor is she an expert, and her fallibility only adds to the charm. This book is more of a inspirational guide rather than a step by step compendium, and Celia describes the joys of owning an allotment, or even growing a few bits on your flat window ledge, rather than trawling through the details of growing fruit and vegetables. I've had a go at growing a few things in the past, but I wasn't going to bother this year. But you know what, I will now. I'm going to buy a couple of grow-bags and give it a whirl, and see what I can do. I'm sure the chapter on May will point me in the right direction!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 23 March 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I suppose I am an urban Gardner, although I have a big garden we are on the side of a mountain so everything slopes, It is also surround by tress which have preservation orders on them, all of which doesn't make the garden that useful for planting vegetables.
I have a number of pots and raised beds which are at the back and side of the house, our first harvest was last year, with mixed success, I put that down to not having a clue when things should be planted.

New Urban Farmer looked an ideal book to help with getting this years planting right

The book is excellent, illustrations are clear and everything is easy to follow, It makes me excited about planting and our next harvest.
The book also has plenty of recipes, which all sound lovely, being a vegetarian it is nice to find recipes centred around vegetables rather than meat.
Recommend this to anyone who wants to grow there own, If you have never done it, try it, it is very rewarding watching a seed grow, then eating all the spoils, you only need a couple of pots.
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on 24 March 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
...as this is not a serious guide to gardening, but rather a loose history in which the author recounts her experiences running an allotment. The focus is on edible produce, and the book also contains simple recipes using common crops. This has the general feel of The Good Life rather than a horticultural manual, and is certainly an easy read. Anyone seriously interested in allotment work should buy any one of a hundred other books before this, but for anyone thinking of dabbling in this area this book might provide some much-needed inspiration. It is the sort of thing you can dip into and out of easily and there are some genuinely useful tips hidden away amongst the anecdotes. Not a classic by any means, but light and enjoyable. Overall it is well-written, educational, nicely presented, and easy to understand.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 May 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I expected this book to be very good, showing me how to grow various vegetables for the town house, ie in containers.

What I got was a diary of how the author started her gardening by getting an allotment and the stories of what she grew and her achievements along the way. In between this are beautiful photographs, pages on cooking and brief notes on how to grow the actual veg from seeds. If i wanted to read tales on gardening or how to cook with food, I would have gotten 2 different books. In trying to do all 3, it lacks the feel of a must have book and feels slightly disjointed. The author is dedicated to her allotment, but I am not dedicated in enjoying this book!

To learn more about gardening, then another book with more detail and less story telling would be better, but if you want to read all about the authors allotment and gardening stories, this is ideal.

Unfortunately, I was expecting more on gardening and less on cooking and stories.
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on 19 August 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
While there's nothing particularly wrong with this book, I can't quite see who it's aimed at. It's very lightweight and lacking in the essential 'how exactly do I do that?' information for clueless first time gardeners, while not really giving any super detailed insights for the experienced uber-gardener. It's a nice coffee table book, and if you picked it up with no preconceptions it might be enough to inspire you into having a go but at the same time it isn't detailed enough.

If you've no idea about gardening or looking after a vegetable patch then I would hesitate in recommending this. It reads like a collection of blog posts, (which I suspect it is), with random personal asides about the authors life and just not enough of the real information a clueless first time gardener would need. A nice book to dip into and leaf through, but far too vague to be used as a text book. A bit disappointing.
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