Monday, February 23, 2009

Reading and watching

Everyone that knows me knows how I love to read. With the hot weather this summer I have been staying indoors more and have had a great chance to read some terrific books. So I thought I would share a few of my latest reads.

THE COMPLETE BOOK OF VEGETABLES, HERBS &FRUIT by Matthew Biggs, Jekka McVicar & Bob Flowerdew.

I got this book for my birthday and I love it. It is Australian (there is a UK edition due out soon) so all the plants and climatic conditions refer to here. It is divided into three sections - veges, herbs and fruit as well as a section at the back titled Practical Gardening. This section deals with such topics as planning veg, fruit and herb gards with some great plans, crop rotation, pollination and companion planting, mainenance and weeds and pests.

In essence it is like four books in one. I love the info given to each vege, herb and fruit - species, cultivation, medicinal, culinary, pests/diseases etc. There are lovely photographs and some delicious recipes. I like how the veges in the book are not only the common ones (carrots, tomatoes, cabbages etc) but other lesser known ones such as Cardoon (spanish thistle), Purslane, Samphire, Scorzonera (vegetable oyster). This is a book iI can see myself referring to time and time again. I have already made a list of the fruit trees I want after reading through this book.

ONE MAGIC SQUARE by Lolo Houbein

I found this book in the local second hand book shop. Lolo is encouraging everyone to grow their own veges, starting with one square metre of soil. Houbein includes designs and instructions for more than 30 different one-square-metre plots, including salad, soup, pizza and anti-oxidant plots. One Magic Square is Australian and written for Australian conditions. With chapters describing the vegetables, fruit and herbs that can be grown, as well as sections on compost, pests, mulch and seeds, there is everything included that anyone would need to start growing their own food in temperate Australia. I love how passionate Lola is about her subject. The book is full of wit and wisdom with gems of information—like placing a tile under a developing pumpkin to prevent rot. She writes in a chatty, rambling style. This book will appeal to both gardeners and non-gardeners, encouraging them to take the first step to growing their own nutritious, organic food.


This one I borrowed from the library to read. It is like a How To guide to transforming the average garden into a tranquil eco paradise and wildlife oasis. The author exposes some unpalatable truths about everyday gardening practices, and examines eco-friendly alternatives and their advantages. This book packs a wealth of information on biodiversity, conservation, soil and plant selection – interwoven with personal recollections – into one slender volume. Definately worth reading.

Watching on tv.

A new show on ten (Wednesdays) called Guerrilla Gardeners. A group of six young landscapers and renovators who strike ugly public sites and spruce them up without any municipal approval. Last week they tackled a corner block sandwiched between a train station, bus stop, crowded road with gas and electricity wires and dirt with a very low ph. Too barren to grow anything. They made seating, raised beds with hardy plants, painted the electricity box, made a lovely sundial and bike rack. The transformation was good -very good. I will be interested to watch this weeks episode -evidently there is some sort of strife with the local council.

Also heard of another show on Fox starting up March 29th called ALTER ECO It is a 13 part series about ways people can live a more earth friendly lifestyle. During the series the ALTER ECO team renovate a 1920's house making it green and showcasing new options available to builders/renovators. The house acts as a base for the crew but it also features food and gardening tips, creative ways to make the green shift. Sounds worth a watch.

M xx

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