Yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

Big shout to the Thompson & Morgan blog for publishing the lovely “Thompson & Morgan’s little book of garden wisdom” and what’s more you can download it for FREE from here.

It’s a great resource for all gardeners be they novice or experienced, right from the first chapter “Gardening tips for beginners” it’s full of brilliant tips and ideas. As we’ve said before gardening is such a wide spectrum there’s always something to learn.

We can relate to it; “”Nobody gets it right first time” says Kate of Diary of a Country Girl blog”, yes we can just think back to the time we were faced with the back end of a large rodent in the compost bin after previously putting some salad leaves into it (that possibly had traces of meat on them). There’s stuff about looking after your soil, tool care, fruit & veg, container growing and a whole lot more. Big shout for Thompson & Morgan for producing a informative read! Get yours now here.

Now bacon is off the ration…

The complete vegetable grower – W.E. Shewell-Cooper – Faber & Faber 1955
Here’s a great book picked up in a charity shop in lovely Sudbury last week. First published in 1955, it describes itself as a “book for the amateur who wants to grow all his/her own vegetables and save him/herself at least £100 a year”. It covers subjects as crop rotation, soil structure and composting and has a comprehensive section on “The culture of vegetables alphabetically” covering growing tips, harvesting and using the vegetable featured.

The chapter “Unusual vegetables for original gardeners” sounds like a name of a Buzzcocks live LP and features all sorts of veg, some we knew, the asparagus pea for instance and lots we didn’t: Good King Henry, the Potato Onion and Couve Tronchuda.

Amazing what you learn from those old school gardening books from a time when blokes wore shirts and ties down the allotment. One to search out for!

Currently borrowing this week

Good Night and Good Riddance (How Thirty-Five years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life) – David Cavanagh – Faber & Faber 2016

Here’s a good book that we had to take out of Shoe Lane Library the other day and it was the following passage that helped in the decision: “The Desperate Bicycles, from London, make one or two false moves on their single ‘Smokescreen’, which sounds like a busker fumbling his way through ‘Give Peace a Chance’ while a pub pianist thumps away in the background.” A good read indeed if you remember the great man Peel!

The original, the original, sin

Recently we’ve been re-flicking through that classic from 1946, Adam The Gardener” by Cyril Cowell after featuring a great dahlia tip from it the other week. Ta to Andy at City Uni who originally told me about the book.The dandy highway manOn one page it features some great gadgets in a “I’m skint but I used to watch Blue Peter and have a jam jar full of screws and some old wood knocking around the house though” stylee.Gardening gadgets_1And some gardening “don’ts” that even after all these years still apply. Brilliant stuff.Don'tGo out and get a copy, it’s worth it even just for ripping off his great gardening look!

It’s a small world…

My tiny

Our book of the week is My Tiny Veg Plot by Lia Leendertz (Pavillion) and was obtained from the shelves of Holborn Library. Earlier this week I was flicking through their “what’s new” section when I found this one alongside Dave Haslam’s (author of Debris fanzine) Life after Dark.

Lia’s book is well different from the usual gardening books as there’s no month by month “what to do” guide or “vegetables by alphabetical order” but features some well interesting plot ideas.

It includes amongst other things, a balcony in Bristol, a veg plot on the back of a pick-up truck (a bonkers but good idea!) in the states, a keyhole garden (a mad version of a raised bed) in Lesotho, a rooftop plot in Hong Kong, mobile herbs in the author’s camper van and our gardening friend Penny Golightly‘s London budget backyard too. A book well worth having a look at!

Pre-solstice shouty vibes

ded yampy 2

Big shout to Tim and Stand up and spit for posting up the second issue of my old fanzine Ded Yampy from many moons ago here. Respect is due Tim!

If you love “Ranting poetry, sweary poetry, boozy poetry” Stand up and Spit is for you!

Cheers to my good mate Pete R too for originally spotting it!

More old time fanzine business here. Cheers Joly!

Book of the week

Veg growers almanacGardeners’ World: The Veg Grower’s Almanac: Month by Month Planning and Planting – Martyn Cox – BBC Books 2014 – £9.99

I found this in the library this week, a nice compact little gardening book that’ll snugly fit into a donkey jacket pocket. It’s a handy little publication sectioned off month-by-month with what jobs to do and has features on vegetables that are relevant to that month too. It’s all in black and white with no pics but has some nice graphics and a sow and grow chart at the back. Simple and informative and a book worth buying or one for a long-term loan out of the library.

Trouble is though with library books you do really have to take care of them. When it comes to gardening books I have taken them outside into the garden, balanced cups of tea on them and even have been known to read them in the bath. The last one I had from the library went back after a good few renewals and in a bit of a state. Thank god for those automatic machines, rather than getting an earful from an angry librarian!

A book worth getting (but not one for dropping into the bath!)

Can you wake up now, please?

London Gardens A-z

The London Garden Book A-Z – Abigail Willis – Metro

I popped into Charing Cross library last week and between playing “spot the sleeping person” and the “where’s the spare chair?”, I came across this great book in the gardening section.

It’s an interesting read about gardens around the capital circa 2012. It’s been well researched and features everything from Kew, The Barbican Conservatory, beekeeping on top of The Royal Festival Hall to lesser known gardens like Roots and Shoots (where I did an introduction to beekeeping course with the LBKA a few years ago), The Food From The Sky growing project on top of a supermarket in Crouch End (sadly no more), Mark from Vertical Veg (who’s also well into his music), the Horniman Museum and Gardens (up the road from us who have a great annual plant sale) and even a traffic island in E9 that went to pot but now been planted out in a guerrilla gardening style, a great Zen garden in Acton and a whole lot more. Even Shannon’s our local garden centre is mentioned in it. What more do you want?

A great book documenting gardens in the capital from the big to the small!

And talking of the capital…

Book of the week

Terry Walton

The Allotment Almanac  – Terry Walton – Bantam Press
Here’s a brilliant book I got out of the library the other week. It’s by Terry Walton, a long standing organic gardener (who gives out advice in various magazines and radio programmes including BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show) and the book documents a year on his allotment which is located in the Rhondda Valley, Wales.

There’s tons of advice (chitting broad beans in an airing cupboard, how good is that?), tales from the plot (the social life and what goes on around the site; “In Albie’s Cafe, celebrating with a brew”), he’s got a bang on attitude (“The motto of a dedicated allotmenteer is ‘never buy what can be reused or borrowed and where spending is necessary, use your money wisely and the harvest will be both plentiful and rich'”) and stands up for us people who use the biodynamic approach (“Never mind which method of gardening you choose, however odd it seems: it’s the results and successes that count. If it works for you, why change?”) Too right Terry!

Also includes writings on wormeries, composting, raised beds, greenhouse gardening and lots more in an organic style. A must-have for the shoestring gardener and allotment holder, from beginner to experienced. Around £12-£15 to buy new and well worth it!

Time machine gardening

The dandy highway man

Thanks to Andy at City University for loaning us this great book from the 1940’s called “Adam the Gardener” who was a regular feature in the Sunday Express way back then (love his get up, especially the felt-hat!) There’s some great gardening tips included in here, some dubious chemicals are used, it’s a bit old fashioned in the sexual equality stakes, but a book worth getting and a reprint can be obtained on ebay for about a fiver so that isn’t bad for the amount of great info enclosed.

The dandy highwayman

The best thing in the book is the very funny forward from Nathaniel Gubbins (a journalist who used to “speak for the British man-in-the-street better than the British man-in-the-street could speak for himself.”)

make hay not war

cloche city rockers

Loads of great quotes including “You never catch him idling in the tool shed, drinking your tea rations and eating your butter ration” and “even when xmas day falls on a Sunday, adam is still there, pottering about and making himself useful instead of making a beast of himself on christmas cheers, like some gardeners I know,” brilliant! Did Nathaniel used to work at the council I wonder?