I’ve been dipping into Alys Fowler’s ‘Edible Garden’ since summer and I think it’s a great book. It covers basics, such as soil fertility, making compost, how to sow seeds and plant trees and an A-Z of edible plants to grow, but then there’s so much more. Mixing ornamentals and edibles is the main thrust of the book, but it also includes foraging, seed saving, preserving, herbal teas, cooking and edible bouquets. In fact, it leans towards promoting a sustainable way of life, with a few choice recipes to boot. (Her mum’s jerusalem artichoke souffle is next on my list to try).
One of the many things I love about ‘The Edible Garden’ is the lists. Great lists Alys! Above are lists of fruit, veg and flowers in order of size. My favourite thing in the book and a wonderful tool for planning your beds/borders/growing space. There are also lists on edible flowers for both sun and shade, what seeds to sow where, best lettuces for eating and design, decorative and edible vegetables for pots and herbs that can be grown from seed. Written in an engaging and accessible style and packed full of useful information, innovative ideas and enticing photos, Alys Fowler shares her extensive knowledge willingly with the reader. Great for both beginners and those with more growing experience, a really useful book if you want to have a beautiful yet mostly edible garden.
Another book that got me chomping at the bit this year to dig up the flower beds and try out something more unusual, was Mark Diacono’s ‘a taste of the unexpected’, where he encourages the reader to ‘make your garden unbuyable’. Instead of growing veg that can be easily bought, such as potatoes and carrots and other staples, he promotes using your precious growing space to grow unusual fruit and veg that you’ll never find at the supermarket or local green grocer, such as Japanese Wineberries (one of my favourite fruits this summer), Szechuan Peppers and Egyptian Walking Onions. Mark Diacono’s enthusiasm is infectious and even if you have a small space to grow in, options abound, such as growing dwarf peaches (1.5 m tall) in a large pot, or Fuchias (growing from around 1m tall) which will provide both fruits (which look like tiny batons) and edible flowers.
It was the less often seen fruit trees which grabbed my attention at first, such as Medlars (above ), Quinces and Mulberries, but there’s plenty more to discover in the very selective lists of soft fruits, nuts, herbs and spices, beans, leaves, edible flowers and some unusual roots. Each chosen plant occupies three or four pages in the book and alongside growing and harvesting information, has ideas for cooking/preparing and eating. I rather like the sound of Daylily fritters and Chilean Guava (cousin of Myrtle) muffins to try out next year.
Having been inspired by the ideas in his book, Mark Diacono has supplied a very helpful directory at the back of the book, so you can trot off and easily find these treasures to grow. Thanks Mark! I am now planning on digging up some old cherry trees (non productive) and replacing with a beautiful Quince tree over the next couple of months.