Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 23 May 2014

Salad Days: Groundbreaking Food Gardens

Today's Salad Days is a little different. Have a look at the top middle of the book cover on the right, can you see why that might be? (click to enlarge if needed)

Yes, The 52 Week Salad Challenge has made it into print! It's one of 73 contributions to Niki Jabbour's latest book, Groundbreaking Food Gardens, which is going down a storm.

2 years ago, Niki and I got chatting on Twitter after I mentioned her last book as part of the Challenge. It resulted in her asking if I'd like to contribute a 'plan' to her next book, based on the 52 Week Salad Challenge.

I said yes, but secretly I felt rather daunted. To me, 'plan' meant 'design' and I was only a couple of months into the Challenge at the time. Niki was very persistent though and assured me only a rough drawing would be needed and the book's artist would do the rest.

Still I procrastinated, but by September 2012 I finally felt able to put something together. However, Niki needed it immediately and I was about to go on holiday...


... out came the squared paper and I put together 4 plans, 1 for each season. Each one is based on the area of the 2 cold frames I'm using to grow salads, the idea being that only a small area is needed to grow a year long salad supply as long as some astute juggling with seed trays plus windowsill growing during the cold months are also adopted.

Underneath each plan is a a key to the crops grown with growing notes and named varieties to try. There are also some suggestions for a few extras (aka fixin's) which can be used to supplement the salad greens, such as a pot of nasturtiums or a hanging basket of Tumbler tomatoes.

Niki typed up my written notes I'd scanned and emailed to her, then sent them back with a list of questions. It was clear my hastily scrawled handwriting left something to be desired! She also translated my English into 'American' e.g. rocket became arugula and we spent some time discussing our favourite varieties and homing in on those available on both sides of the pond.


And two years later here's the final transformation - after answering further questions from the editor and a couple of rounds of approving the artwork. I also had to write an author biography for the book's introduction. I'm honoured to be included alongside many of the great and the good of north American garden writing world. It's great to see Emma Cooper and Rachel Mathews batting for this side of the pond, as well as my dear friend Dee representing Oklahoma :)

Niki's done a grand job of pulling the book together and I've loved reading the other contributors' plans. I see them not as an absolute recipe to be followed slavishly, but as a compendium of ideas and starting points which can be adapted and joined together to meet the reader's own requirements. For example, Emma's comfrey tower would sit very well alongside my plan.

Thanks Niki for your persistence and giving me the opportunity to contribute to your book. Am I chuffed to bits with the result? You betcha :)


19 comments:

  1. Congratulations, the book looks so interesting, definitely one for the list.

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    1. Joanne - it's an American book, though much of it translates well for our own growing

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  2. Well done. I think once we get our Woodblocx bed up and running we will have to try for all year round salad. We tend to visit the plot in the depths of winter just to harvest things that will keep for the week or a bit longer. Salad stuff needs to be more readily available.

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    1. Exactly Sue and that's why I spent a long time experimenting with a tiny space next to the house which doesn't get much light. I wanted to prove it can be done pretty much anywhere.

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  3. Wonderful, well done! I read about this on Emma's blog a couple of weeks back and then saw it again on Rachel's video this morning and have ordered it. Am currently enjoying 30 free days of next day delivery from Amazon so this will be my weekend reading; I'm really excited about this book, it looks inspirational with lovely illustrations. Meant to mention it last weekend as Emma flagged up your entry. Lovely to see you and have a chat! C xx

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    1. The illustrations work really well, better thsn photos. They allow you to think how the ideas will work in your own garden rather. With aphoto it's tempting to think that it's not your garden, so it couldn't possibly work.

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  4. Well done, congratulations! I'm sure we will all find the book very inspirational, I certainly need someone to tell me when to plant what. It will be so useful, I'm bound to improve with my veggie growing with your help!

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    1. Thanks Pauline. The 52 Week Salad Challenge page inthe right sidebar has loads of information for you :-)

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  5. Congratulations! Your contribution looks great.

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    1. Thanks Joanna - I see a couple of people have received your book recently, so I'm very much looking forward to receiving mine soon.

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  6. Excellent! How very satisfying. It's a good-looking book too, which always helps tempt readers. Looking forward to reading it when I get the chance.

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    1. Thanks Helen. It's also been a very good learning experience.

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  7. I was going to use exactly the word Helen's chosen - 'satisfying'. Must be a great pleasure to see your work not only in print but laid out beautifully with proper drawings. I'd find it hard to give up on the word 'Rocket' though.

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    1. I can't believe the difference Esther. I struggle with arugula too ;-)

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  8. Congratulations, what a wonderful achievement, you should be very proud of your contribution.

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  9. Wow, how wonderful to see your words and plans in print :)

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  10. Oh many, many congratulations VP! Will have to waver from my self imposed embargo of not buying any new gardening books this year. I was looking for a good excuse.

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  11. Congratulations, that's wonderful, looks like an excellent book. Am so very tempted to break my "no more books this year" rule. You must be chuffed to bits, even if rocket isn't rocket any more!!

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