Book Review: The Alternative Kitchen Garden

Ever since I knew Emma Cooper was writing a book about her Alternative Kitchen Garden, I'd been intrigued how she would make it stand out from the many books about vegetable and fruit growing currently found in our bookshops today.

Thankfully she's taken a different approach to the usual monthly/seasonal calendar and come up with a unique guide on how to transform a garden into a productive one. Like many of us, Emma started with just a few pots, but soon realised this wouldn't be enough for her. Today, her garden is dedicated to growing fruit and vegetables - and chickens! - with a 'grow dome' installed to extend the productive season and to grow her more tender crops.

It's not a 'How to' book - there's plenty of those on the market already - but there are lots of hints and tips within its 371 pages. Instead it's an A-Z of enthusiasm, ideas and experiments, where Freecycling, Osteopathy and Zero Waste cheerfully rub shoulders with Achocha, Peas and Strawberries. Unlike most gardening books, Emma is looking at the kitchen garden in its widest sense. She isn't afraid to talk about her failures as well as her successes and sometimes you won't find definitive answers either as Emma is discussing what she's found out so far from eight years of gardening. That honesty is most refreshing and should encourage pretty well everyone to 'have a go', whether they're starting out or just wanting to try something that bit different.

A positive, friendly and informative book, which has relevance for anyone growing their own in the 21st century, irrespective of whether they're a beginner or have some experience.

You can also catch up with how things are progressing in Emma's garden via her blog and podcasts.


  1. Sounds like an interesting read VP! I don't mind hearing about failures...that's rather refreshing in a garden book! gail

  2. That's a useful review thank you. I'll be looking out for that on our mobile library. Even though I have a host of garden books, you never know what you might pick up in another one. (I currently have out Organic Gardening by John Fedor, that's a clear and concise "how to")

    Your blog looks packed full of useful stuff, I'll be coming back for more. I agree too, talking about our failures is as helpful as sharing what works, there's always challenges!

  3. Gail - that's exactly what I thought and it's a great read. Have a good weekend :)

    Heskie - welcome and thanks for following and the compliments :) I'm sure you'll find something in this book as it's quite a different approach to most books out there. If your mobile library doesn't have it, they can always get it in for you. They're pretty good about that kind of thing around here.

  4. Thanks VP - will look out for this one. There seems to have been a plethora of new vegetable/fruit growing books since I got my allotment. This one sounds different.

  5. Anna - it's very different and yes, the choice of veg/fruit growing books is getting bewildering.

    Perhaps we need a Blogger's choice meme for the winter, to help people sift through the choices.

  6. It's always good to read a gardening book review post. It's the second one that I've read on this excellent book recently, the other one being
    I must rememeber to mention both in a forthcoming post of my own! xx


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