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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 14 February 2004
This is the ONLY book you need to grow vegetables of any sort. Don't bother with glossy, uninformative coffee table books, rely on this. I've been growing veg for 15 years and I always find something here I didn't know. Her experience is very wide, the information totally reliable and clear. I particularly like the VSR guide - Value for Space Rating - which gives an assessment of the return you'll get when you dedicate sometimes limited space to growing whatever crop she's describing. Ms Larkom also includes an indication of how difficult various crops are, tells you when to harvest them, makes recommendations about which ones have the best flavour and includes cooking tips! I can't imagine there's anything missing, but I'm still eagerly awaiting her new book.
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on 30 September 2004
I have just entered the world of gardening and have decided that growing vegetables is the way forward. I have found this book invaluable in that it gives basic information on every aspect (planning, preparing soil, sowing seeds, compost etc) of growing your own vegetables without being patronising. Maybe all you pro gardeners out there already know all this, but I would think that with so much information in this book, it would be useful even for experienced gardeners.
If you are going to buy one book for your vegetable patch or allotment, make it this one.
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on 22 January 2003
As a newcomer to the world of vegetable growing I found this book invaluable. OK it doesn't have any glossy colour pics in, but it's full of useful & practical advice, with info for
novice & experienced grower alike. The planting plans are wonderful as is the vegatable directory. If you are into growing vegetables you will find this book money well spent.
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on 6 February 2004
Admirably clear and extremely practical this is the definitive veg book for gardners of any level of expertise. Nicely written, Larkom neither patronises nor assumes excessive knowledge achieving a nice balance between information and usability.
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on 2 January 2006
A book packed with solid text and just the odd sketch -- yet it opens up to the reader beautifully. I have the RHS books, I have Titchmarsh and various others, yet this one alone has it all for those who are impressed more by factual content than empty anicdotes and worthless celebrity photos.
Fantastic consistency in the way information is presented throughout makes this book all the more accessible, from techniques and plots to a veg-by-veg growing guide that won't let you down.
Get this book and grow your own vegetables. The money you could have spent on half the knowledge at three times the price can go towards some seeds!
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on 25 February 2006
What I love about this book is the size, like a 'normal', paperback, novel type of book which makes it easier to carry than most other gardening books. It's got a lot of information on lots of subjects. The section on 'soil, manure and compost' alone has over 35 pages. The absence of pictures on every page means there's more information. There are charts on things such as green manures, which is very useful. Also a very useful section on growing Comfrey to use as manure and liquid fertilizer and lots of tips on making your own compost heap, cloches, polytunnels, etc.
It's very, very good, and comes highly recommended... HOWEVER, I was surprised and disappointed not to have found any information whatsoever on companion planting. Something I'm very interested in, and for a book that advocates growing organically, I just can't understand why this hasn't had a mention. Perhaps companion planting to some gardeners is similar to how homeopathy stands with scientists, but leading gardeners such as Bob Flowerdew have devoted much of their writing to just this and it's becoming more and more popular (although it goes back to ancient times). At one point, Joy Larkcom suggests growing sunflowers, sweet peas and nasturtiums amongst beans, but merely cites the reason as being for 'decorative effect'. These plants are great to grow together, but for other benificial reasons. It wouldn't have taken much space to provide a chart.
There are also no tips on how to deal with pests if you'd rather not kill them, and not a mention within the composting pages on not to use processed foods in the heap, even though there's a 'do and don't' list. Perhaps the author eats so healthily that she has forgotten that many people do eat biscuits, crisps and other non-cooked 'junk', even those who want to grow their own.
I also would loved to have seen some information on how to grow hazel or bamboo on an allotment to provide a free supply of cane supports.
There is detailed information on each vegetable, how to grow, how to look after the crop, the type of soil required, etc. Very useful, but if you find it easier to learn visually, to me there is no substitute for the clarity of the Dr. G. Hessayon 'Expert' series. One other point on clarity, the index is not the easiest to read.
That said, this book is very useful and has more information packed in than most other gardening books of this kind. Other than these points, it is hard to fault and impressive and I would recommend it, but don't think it's quite that 'ultimate' book that everyone else claims it to be. I shall use it, but alongside others.
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on 20 June 2007
As a new vegetable gardener last year, I bought quite a few books to help me get started. Fortunately, this was one of them, and I now realise I need only have bought this one. Although low on colour pictures and other 'glossy' features, it is absolutely packed with useful information and I find I refer to it constantly. It covers a wider range of veg than many other books, too, and has several excellent features, including the value for space ratio mentioned in another review, and several excellent planting plans ('feed a family', etc). I just can't recommend it highly enough.
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VINE VOICEon 16 December 2007
Ever wondered how to build a compost heap? a polytunnel? how to store leeks? when to sow Russian kale? Joy Larkcom's not so little volume will tell you. If Hugh and Monty have inspired you then Joy will deal with all the practicalities of turning that inspiration into real produce.

She neatly divides her subject into two parts. The first half of her book can be read as beginner's guide or a course on vegetable growing as she covers all the basics one would need to know such as what double digging is, the best way to build compost heaps, what tools you would need and so forth. The second half is a directory of vegetables with detailed sowing, cultivation and harvesting instructions and the occasional hints on using your produce. Throughout the book are a number of very useful tables and charts giving diaries of when to sow, transplant, harvest, etc, suggested garden layouts, green manures and other information which could usually take a long time to gather together.

This is not a coffee table gardening book with masses of pretty pictures. This is wall to wall information all packed into a single place which can make it heavy going and it is not a book to read starting at page one and working forward, it is primarily a reference work. The greatest virtue of her book though is that while it will teach you all you need to know it is usable as a reference work and she goes into enough detail that this is a book which you will still find yourself using when you have years of experience.

If you've been inspired to create your own vegetable garden then buy this book. It isn't pretty but it is astoundingly useful and comprehensive enough that you will still be using it years hence.
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on 30 March 2008
Bought this book 2 plus yrs ago. Brilliant. I admit was initially sad by lack of colour pictures!! but as time has gone on and have now managed to dig most of my veg. plot (rather than stare at it in hope) and made time to plan, this book has been invaluable. There's loads of info. on the web (some a little confusing and a little conflicting) but Ms Larkcom's info. is steadfast and logical and is my first and sometimes, only, port of call. It's a valuable reference for both new and experienced allotment keepers. I've given away my glossy, pretty, fairly useless allotment books and kept to hand this superbly informative and helpful reference. Cheers Ms Larkcom, it was worth every penny.
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on 3 February 2004
This is the best of the 3 Joy Larkcom books I've read, all of them are head & shoulders above the rest. Don't grow veg. without it.
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