Top positive review
24 people found this helpful
A host of exotic new crops to experiment with
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.