12 December 2009

Grow Your Own Eat Your Own

Kyle Cathie publishing in the U.K. has released a new book by England's preeminent organic gardening adviser, Bob Flowerdew.
Flowerdew, a farmer's son, is a radio and tv organic gardening personality. He gardens on an acre in Norfolk and has a landscape service.
His other books include Going Organic: The Good Gardener's Guide to Getting It Right, Gourmet Gardener, Flowers, Fruits and Vegetables, The No-Work Garden, Organic Bible, Bob Flowerdew's Complete Fruit Book, Complete Book of Companion Gardening and The Organic Gardener - all since 1993.
Grow Your Own Eat Your Own got rave reviews in England but I always wonder how well English gardening advice translates to U.S. conditions, especially since he gardens on an acre along the North Sea.
One of the features of the book is that there are techniques illustrated that we don't commonly see in American books - and I love finding new ways to improve my success in food growing and preserving.
Flowerdew's focus in this book is storing and preserving, so he suggests that we select varieties for their storage life. He provides specific instructions on how to pick in order to preserve healthy food.
The photographs are toned down - artistic and beautiful without artificial flash. In the illustration for making leather, the pan and pot look like they are actually used. You'll love the picture of the herbs drying, clothes pinned to a line.
In the section on smoking, his invention, zucchini bacon is described with the instructions. "It really is nothing like bacon-but very good anyway," Flowerdew writes.
Jam, jelly and fruit butter methods are provided. Candying, pickling, cider, sorbet, wine and liquor - it's all here in a conversational tone that makes it all look possible.
So, your growing zone makes no difference in whether or not you or someone on your list needs this book. It's for all of us who love good food, fresh from the garden.
A 2006 Washington Post interviewer, Adrian Higgins, found Flowerdew and his surroundings to be surprising in person. (click on the link and read all about him - it's good)
"The first thing that strikes you about the garden at Harvey Lodge is that it is about as far from the archetype of the flowery, bowery English garden as you can get. Yes, rambling roses are woven onto fences, but the grapevines are out of control and everywhere, it seems, there are old car tires, sheets of plastic and bits of old carpet.
Flowerdew is a thrifty recycler, in keeping with his organic gardening persona; the tires, now planters, are but one example of this. In a greenhouse, you find yourself walking on a metal path that is actually a line of old radiators half buried in the mud. Flowerdew's potting bench is a former deep freeze, and he has rainwater and bath-water storage and transportation systems that would make the desert dwellers of "Dune" seem wasteful."
In an interview with the Times of London, Flowerdew said, "Every religion has paradise: gardens filled with butterflies, birds, and children eating fruit from the trees. I have a dream that this world can be made better bit by bit."
It's that lovely optimism that keeps us gardeners going, isn't it?
The book is $20 on Amazon. Used copies are under $10.

2 comments:

Carol said...

Thank you for this review. I love your ending with the quote of enthusiasm and hope. If only it could be so for all children the world over... Carol

Molly Day said...

I really agree with Flowerdew's approach, at least as far as I can gleen it from his book.

If every school child could grow food during their education years, at home or someplace else, I believe that every child would be changed forever by the experience.