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Book Review: The
Allotment Source Book
Author: Caroline Foley
Published by: New Holland, 2010
- Price £20.00 | ISBN
9781847736642 | Hardback
The Allotment Source Book
by Caroline Foley is available from New
- This is a beautifully presented
and written book, full of useful information for anybody trying
to start an allotment. The photographs are excellent and they
give the book a "texture" that becomes almost a motivation
to go out and start digging immediately
It is not a book that you can
read in one go. It should be treated as an encyclopaedia, although
there are chapters that I found truly inspiring and could not
stop reading, like the one entitled "how will you garden"
(p 50). This chapter is typical of the rest of the book. It looks
at gardening from many points of view, starting with a historical
perspective. It introduces you to the pioneers of different agricultural
solutions that can be adapted to any plot. I really enjoyed reading
about the people that developed the concepts of modern organic
agriculture and gardening, permaculture, etc. The chapter then
goes on to talk about real examples of people that keep allotments
now; the "showman", the woman that has found inspiration
in wartime gardening, and a very interesting community project:
the peace garden. There is also a small section on gardening
for the disabled that offers links to other relevant sites.
The book starts with a brief
history of allotments in Britain and has a comprehensive section
on how to go about getting a plot from the local authority. It
ends with a summary on allotment law written by an expert and
a page of useful addresses. In between, there are sections on
preparing the ground, dividing the space, planning the planting,
gathering the stock, looking after the plants, and the harvest
and beyond. All these sections are only the first half of the
The second part is the allotment
year, and, of course, the plants: vegetables, fruits, herbs and
flowers that you can grow and eat are all represented and beautifully
illustrated. The pages on monthly advice provided in "the
allotment year" are very interesting and informative.
The chapter on pests, diseases
and other annoyances is also very good. Like the rest of the
book, is full of practical advice. I particularly like the last
sentence in the introduction: "Aim for a fair balance, not
perfection." Sounds like an excellent motto in the quest
for growing vegetables (and in many other aspects of life!).
I have truly enjoyed reading
this book. I am full of admiration for the vast knowledge of
the author and the simplicity of her writing style. Although
not a complete novice in growing vegetables, I have never had
an allotment. I can imagine that this book will be very useful
to anybody that is planning to start one and, as a reference
book, also to people with established allotments. It will be
an endless source of information for people that want to grow
vegetables in the garden, as many of us are trying to do now,
especially in urban areas were the waiting list for allotments
can extend into years.
I really cannot fault this book,
although I think that photographs in the pests and diseases section
would have been much more descriptive and helpful than words
alone. This brings me neatly back to the photographs. I wish
they had been printed in glossy paper. They would have looked
truly amazing. I can imagine however that this would have doubled
the price of the book and it would have defeated its object,
which must be to reach to as many food growers as possible. And
it deserves to do so: it is such a practical and enjoyable book.
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