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on 30 March 2017
Fairly good copy. Very interesting book if new to gardening.
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This book is an A-Z, which makes it sounds rather dry - yet it contains lots of enthusiastic tried-and-tested tips. Emma Cooper is a gardening blogger and this is her first print book, but her experience of writing for the web means it's really readable and full of good information actually, too. And she does have a sense of humour... her chicken is called Princess Layer.

It is alphabetical, but if i tell you the first entry is 'Achocha' you will realise that this is an alternative kitchen garden guide indeed. I'd never even heard of it before reading this book, but it's a member of the cucumber family so I'll be keeping my eye out...

There is lots about how to grow more usual crops like carrots and potatoes, too. And for the first time in print I found an explanation of why my attempts over the last two years to grow Edamame, the green soy beans you get in japanese restaurants, haven't worked. There are problems with how the beans are stored, it seems, and many people have germination problems.

It's a very personal account - she admits she can grow baby carrots like anything, but big strong roots eludecontinue to elude her... and she made me laugh when she describes how a 'labellling drama' meant that she doesn't know which lemon and orange pips actually germinated. There's even a bit where she explains how you can fertilise the plants with human wee....

I think it would be a good buy for anyone hoping to dip into growing veg organically, who wants a personal, fun book on how to do it.
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on 2 October 2011
The Alternative Kitchen Garden is, according to author Emma Cooper, an evolving idea of what a kitchen garden could be in the twenty first century - organic, environmentally sustainable, resilient and about relocalising at least some of our food production. Its also a place not only for learning and practicing growing skills but for enjoying ourselves and having fun. There are many incarnations across the globe, but Emma's particular Alternative Kitchen Garden came into being in 2001 when she and her husband bought a new home in Oxfordshire and decided to grow a few pots of herbs on the patio. A self confessed 'cyber geek', she began to document the transformation of her 'ropey old lawn with potholes and brambles' into a fertile and abundant permaculture plot via internet radio and a popular blog site. Eight years on her postings and stories have been collected in this fascinating volume, illustrated with beautiful colour photos and arranged into easily accessible alphabetical order. Covering subjects as diverse as growing achocha (a lost Inca crop) to zucchinis, and forest gardening to xeriscaping, Emma's style is light and friendly yet at the same time informative and based on personal experience - you feel you could actually be sitting in the garden chatting face to face as she shares her knowledge and experience, especially when she veers off into non directly garden related tangents such as osteopathy and freecycling. A dual purpose book - a concise and valuable practical guide, but at the same time a lovely little read for the deck chair or hammock!
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on 16 January 2011
This book is a joy to dip into, Emma's enthusiasm for plants and growing shines through and she is even confident enough to share the occasional growing failure. I really like the style of short essays on such a wide range of subjects; it's the book I successfully turned to for explaining `F1' and `green manure' to my non-gardening partner. Having read Emma's article on achocha I am now really keen to try growing it, and the section on seed swaps tells me how I might get some seed. Highly recommended as something rather different to a standard `how to' gardening book.
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on 14 August 2009
Ever since I knew Emma Coopper was writing a book about her Alternative Kitchen Garden, I'd been intrigued how she would make it stand out from the many books about vegetable and fruit growing currently found in our bookshops today.

Thankfully she's taken a different approach to the monthly/seasonal calendar one and come up with a unique guide on how to transform a garden into a productive one. Like many of us, Emma started with just a few pots, but soon realised this wouldn't be enough for her. Today, her garden is dedicated to growing fruit and vegetables - and chickens! - with a 'grow dome' installed to extend the productive season and to grow her more tender crops.

It's not a 'How to' book - there's plenty of those on the market already - but there are plenty of hints and tips within its 371 pages. Instead it's an A-Z of enthusiasm, ideas and experiments, where Freecycling, Osteopathy and Zero Waste cheerfully rub shoulders with Achocha, Peas and Strawberries. Unlike most gardening books, Emma is looking at the kitchen garden in its widest sense. She isn't afraid to talk about her failures as well as her successes and sometimes you won't find definitive answers either as Emma is discussing what she's found out so far from eight years of gardening. That honesty is most refreshing and should encourage pretty well everyone to 'have a go', whether they're starting out or just wanting to try something that bit different.

A positive, friendly and informative book, which has relevance for anyone growing their own in the 21st century, irrespective of whether they're a beginner or have some experience.
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on 11 August 2009
A great book, a great read, and one that i keep going back to having read it from cover to cover. Growing some of what you eat doesnt have to be boring, neither is it without failures, nor is it either no work/endless slog and Emma communicates all of this so well. Full of ideas, very personal too, and most importantly it makes you want to grow, to try something new, to be outside
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on 30 August 2009
I'm a great fan of Permaculture Magazine and, having read the review article there, I awaited this book with some anticipation. I am about to start making a kitchen garden from scratch, which I hope will be 'alternative', and I was looking forward to reading someone else's experiences. I was very disappointed. It turns out that the Permaculture article was much better than the book itself. The A-Z format was much less interesting than a narrative journey through the evolution of the garden would have been. As a book editor, I can understand why the publishers favoured the A-Z - it's much easier to write, edit and produce. But I can't help feeling that they have missed an opportunity. A narrative would have been far more interesting and would have had a longer shelf-life. If it had been well-written and produced, it might even have been a classic. Instead, what we get is an insubstantial, disjointed series of snippets of information, most of which you could propably find in an afternoon at the library or surfing the web (for free). In fact, the book is less interesting than the author's own blog (which I checked out after reading the book). The book adds nothing.
The author's writing style is accessible and the book is very readable, although on occasion it sounds as if she has swallowed bits of a horticultural encylopaedia whole. I was also disappointed that so many of the photographs were bought in rather than being photos of the author's own garden. This made them rather meaningless - just decoration. In the end, the only 'alternative' thing about this book is the few unusual crops it mentions. Organic growing and recycling are hardly new ideas and are dealt with better elsewhere. I also found really annoying the fact that the book was so poorly proof-read. There were typos (sometimes several) on nearly every page. It could have been so much better. The really 'alternative' thing to do would have been to not waste precious resources producing this book.
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on 3 November 2012
I was disappointed when I received this book. Each topic has a 3/4 page picture and about a page of text. Therefore, there is no depth of information and adds nothing new to most people's gardening knowledge. It would make a good book for a doctor's surgery where you could kill a bit of time browsing a few topics.
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