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Customer Review

If you already have any of the River Cottage handbooks you'll know they are of a high standard, but this one I really loved because it has a bit of a sense of humour too.

Diacono has such an engaging way of writing. On growing cucumbers: "a revelation of cool crunch" and asparagus: "I suffer from what food writer Simon Hopkinson calls asparagus fever". And he makes having a veg patch sound so enjoyable: "If you've got better things to do at 8 o'clock on a mid-June evening than pop freshly shelled peas into your mouth as you amble round your vibrant plot with a glass of what you fancy, then life must be pretty special."

About half the book is an A-Z of possible crops, with tons of good growing advice, variety recommendations, and cooking tips. The rest is about planning your patch, then how to dig and maintain it; then about fifty pages of recipes including delights such as Baby Pea Salad and Pumpkin Meringue Pie.

(NB that the book just covers vegetables, so you will have to wait for next time for apples, berries etc. Though he does slightly break the rules and include tomatoes etc. As you'd hope.)

Diacono somehow manages to balance the need for concise advice, never over-doing it, with some lovely, inspiring, funny help. (He advises leaving a couple of leeks to flower just because of their beauty. I'm converted to the idea of trying to grow salsify, just on the basis of his evangelising. And he explains how Bugs Bunny always comes to be nibbling a carrot...)

An enjoyable, motivating book. And really cheap for what it is, especially considering it's so encyclopedic,and that it does have lovely pictures and a really good hardback binding that opens really nice and flat. A good little size that would be okay to take to the allotment too. Though judging by the text, the author would be best-pleased if you were to enjoy reading it with a nice glass of wine...
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