Top critical review
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A wasted opportunity
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.