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on 3 November 2012
There are lots of good reasons to grow perennials, as this inspiring book demonstrates. You don't have to till or dig, which is good for gardener's backs, healthier for the soil and keeps CO2 in the ground. They allow you to extend your growing seasons and harvest food all year round. And since perennial plants tends to have deeper and more extensive root systems, the food is often richer in minerals and nutrients too.

How to grow perennial vegetables is a simple guide to this wonderland of `low maintenance, low impact vegetable gardening'. It begins with a guide to growing them, with notes on co-planting, mulches and planting patterns. There are useful lists of plants that fix nitrogen, or that are good in the shade. That's the first quarter of the book.

The rest of it is an A-Z of perennial vegetables, and it's an exotic collection indeed. There are hedgerow plants and wild foods like ramsons or rosebay willowherb, common crops from other parts of the world that we don't traditionally eat here but could, like mashua or oca. There are perennial versions of other vegetables, such as leeks, garlic or cabbage. There are plants that may already grow in your garden that you didn't know were edible, like iceplant or hostas. There are some proper freaks too, like the water caltrop, which grows tubers that look like horned bats.

As usual with such books, it is written with the zeal of an enthusiast and your definition of edible may not be the same as the author's. I was surprised to read that strawberry leaves can be eaten in salads for example, and promptly put the book down to go and try them. Suffice to say that I'd need to be pretty desperate before I eat strawberry leaves again. My only other complaint is that while there's no shortage of roots and bulbs and `proper' vegetables, the book is slightly unbalanced towards leaves and spinach-type plants. Don't let either of those negatives put you off however. I'd be surprised if any gardener could browse this book without scribbling down a few things to try.

Is there a binding issue? Yes, but I've based my review on the content alone. That's because I've worked in publishing and I've had this happen to me. It's hugely frustrating, not least because these reviews will stay online long after you've taken your printer to task, organised a second print run and fixed the problem! If you get one that falls apart, I'm sure Green Books will replace it for you.
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on 2 June 2012
Everything I've read from Martin Crawford has been fascinating, throwing a light on what normally passes unnoticed. There's a wealth of information here presented in a very easily assimilated way in a very attractive book .... the result has seen me happily visit the garden and pick dandelion leaves for a salad and even eat the flowers. You see the plants around you in a different light - just the job!
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on 11 July 2012
The content of this volume is excellent, let down by the poor binding. The sort of book one wishes to read and refer to often but it just won't stand up to it. My copy fell to pieces after 30 weeks but was replaced by the publishers almost instantly on complaining so this one will be treated with far more gentleness! 3/10 for binding but 10/10 for service!
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on 24 June 2012
All members of household thought it very good and had read/skipped though it after only two days. It has been consulted many times since. Only reason for not giving it 5 stars is the some of the pages have become loose as it is not very well constucted.
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on 23 September 2012
First - The binding... It's hopeless. Although Amazon replaced the book efficiently the replacement copy had exactly the same problem, with the same pages falling out even though I was extra gentle with the book. The binding looses this book one star.

The book is very good in that it motivates and encourages to try perennial veg. Its well laid out and easy to follow giving information on how to use the unfamiliar vegetables as well as how to grow them. I already grew things like day lillies but was not harvesting them because I didn't know which part of the plant to use or what to do with it! So I found this book particularily helpful.

I found it quite frustrating that some entries gave very good information about cultivation, but others left out details that would be helpful such as spacing of plants... and harvesting details -eg for replant perenials what percentage do you leave in and what percentage do you harvest?

Also for the Alliums and Brassicas - the advice is not to keep them permanently in one place because of the potential build up of disease. More on rotation and companion planting and spacing to minimise the risk of disease would be helpful.

I liked Martin Crawford's other book on forest gardening much better. It was better quality and better information. That said I have found this book to be extremely useful.
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on 3 January 2013
Like most people who grow vegetables I have a collection of books on the subject. Some are better than others but all cover pretty much the same ground. And these days I rarely read them.

This book is very different. I've had my eyes opened to a whole world of edible plants that if your like me, probably new little or nothing about. I really think it's the next step in home grown food.

The more you think about it, the more it makes sense in every way. Greater diversity and less digging in your vegetable garden means fewer pest and disease problems, healthier plants, healthier soil, more nutritious food, new flavours and best of all less work.

There are two basic parts to the book. the first section is an overview and general maintenance. The second part is an extensive A to Z of perennials vegetables. Each listing has an overview and then details on cultivation, harvesting, culinary uses etc.

If you like this book i'd also highly recommend another book by Martin Crawford "Creating a Forest Garden".
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on 14 May 2012
This book on perennial vegetables is very useful. It helps in exploring forgotten or ignored possibilities. The book contains both an interesting philosophy on an alternative gardening style, and a practical list of plants. It is of course even more useful in conjunction with Crawford's other recent book, that on Creating a Forest Garden. We should compliment Martin for his overall endeavor and the clarity of exposition.
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on 5 April 2014
I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have probably not had it for long enough to find out whether I shall share the major complaint here about binding! I have been planning a perennial vegetable garden for the last couple of years, based on rather disparate research sources. This book brings all of the research together and enables me to fully plan the space. I like the attention to detail in terms of being very specific about the depth of root systems and tolerance to shade for certain planting choices. It has also informed me about a lot of non-native choices which I think will be very useful in providing year round pickings. I am sure there is plenty more to learn, but I feel much more confident about starting my perennial garden with the help of this book!
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on 17 December 2012
All of Martin Crawfords books are amazing! There is a little section on how to integrate perennial vegetables into your current garden or food forest and a great glossary on loads of different perennial veggies.

Well worth buying!
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on 21 November 2012
As per other reviews, the quality of the book is crap, pages falling out within a very short time. The content however is great. A very interesting book which will be used a lot.
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