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Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Taste of the unexpected-yum!, 3 April 2011
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This review is from: A Taste of the Unexpected (Hardcover)
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Mark Diacono may not be a household name, but as the head gardener at River cottage his work for TV's Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls at River cottage in the South West may not have gone unnoticed.
This new book is a delight, it contains nearly 200 pages of inspirational text and pictures. Covering a variety of plants, not necessarily those commonly described in books on home food production. The author challenges the reader to grow what they like to eat and to consider different products- items that may not be readily available in the shops.
There is a brief section on planning- what will mature when, plants that will grow quickly, what is highly likely to grow, and what may be a bit of a gamble.
The book is then divided into sections:
Tree fruit- Apricots, medlars, mulberries, peaches and nectarines, and quinces.
Nuts-Almonds, sweet chestnuts, pecans, walnuts
Soft fruit-Alpine strawberries, autumn olive, blue honeysuckle, Chilean Guava, fuschia, gojiberries, rhubarb, and Japanese wineberry
Herbs and spices-Carolina all spice, chervil, lovage, sweet cicely, Szechuan pepper
Beans and greens-Globes artichokes, asparagus, borlotti beans, kai Lan, cardoons, romanesco
Leaves and flowers-day lilies, microleaves, mizuana, nasturtiums, sorell
Buried treasure-Egyptian walking onions, Jerusalem artichokes, oca, salsify, yacon

This book is probably not for beginners, but for some one who has some gardening and vegetable growing experience.
It's written in an educational style with plenty of the authors experience and personal thoughts included. There are some historic references and several recipes including photos for each plant to inspire you as to what you might do with the crop, apart from eating it raw. The description of asparagus growing made me smile, definately a male perspective!. There is helpful information about the ideal growing conditions, time to maturity, space required, and possible yields. The latter are hard to predict especially across the whole of the UK where the weather and conditions vary so widely. Good to know for example that mulberry rees are slow to start (perhaps I have not lost mine after our last hard winter). Many texts on asparagus tell you about not cutting for three years to let it establish, then cut all you like, but how many mention that at maturity, one crown may produce only 12 or so spears.
This is probably not a book for a beginner, some growing experience is helpful. You'd need a large garden to grow many of these plants especially the trees and some of the soft fruit. (RSPB in their survey's describe a large garden as one the size of a tennis court.) There is some comment on what might be grown in containers, this could be further enhanced in the next version. This is not a reference text, but give a little about important aspects of each plant. Further research may be necessary to find out about varieties which grow in your area, and pests and diseases. This is not a book for some one who wants instant results, don't expect to read the book in the morning, buy the plant in the afternoon and sit back and wait. For example in the south midlands I've not been able to find any of the named varieties of apricot in two large chain garden centres, nor two local nurseries. One stated their suppliers would expect to be sold out by now, come back in the autumn. I did however find suppliers on the internet- fine if you don't mind not choosing your plants personally.
I would love to see this book in an e version to be read on devices supporting full colour, I hope its in production. For now it will languish on the coffee table.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Sue H
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   

Location: United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,047