It's been a rainy day here in Chippenham, so I've had a chance at last to catch up with some of my 'book log' (i.e. book back log). I always have a number of books on the go at one time, with a number forming an orderly queue behind them. Leaping over them all in an effortless bound today is Jane Perrone's Allotment Keeper's Handbook. It forms part of my Open Garden prize book stash, so demands a review without further ado.
Peruse the gardening shelve(s) in any bookshop at the moment and the number of titles on the subject of food growing and allotmenteering has (pardon the pun) mushroomed in the last couple of years or so. This title is a relative newcomer (published last year) and came after the time I was in search of my own allotmenteering bible. However, I've been enjoying Jane Perrone's blog Horticultural since I started blogging, so I was delighted when The Garden Monkey persuaded her to part with a signed copy for me to give away sometime in the next few weeks.
Unlike most of the books in this genre, The Allotment Keeper's Handbook falls into the practical sized volume - neither coffee table glossy nor impossibly large. It feels like it should have the reassuring words Don't Panic written on the cover in the style of Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This is a book written from personal experience aimed at the beginner allotmenteer. It's like you have that allotmenteering friend to show you the ropes right there in your hand - the friend I didn't have when I started my allotment 4 years ago.
This is a book that cuts right through the jargon, packing a lot of information, advice, anecdote and humour into a relatively small size. You won't find many photographs along the way, but that doesn't mean the book isn't useful. In fact it leaves the way clear to get the novice allotmenteer thoroughly started - from getting the right plot, cultivating it, right through to the final, satisfying harvest. There's also plenty of new information to keep relative old hands like me interested, such as the reputed use of carrots to attract nematodes away from the cucurbit family. This is the book to help you get your allotment licked into shape. Partner it with Joy Larckom's classic Grow Your Own Vegetables for more details on specific crops and you'll have the best help possible to get you started on your plot.
Sadly Jane has given up her allotment since writing this book. I wish her well in developing her new vegetable garden from scratch at her new home.
This review has also been added to my Open Garden blog - do hop on over and take the garden tour!