Book review: Edible Paradise - How to grow herbs, flowers and veggies in any space
by Sarah Cossom
One of the most important elements for me in any gardening book is for it to be both inspiring and achievable in equal measure; Edible Paradise ticks both those boxes.
I also am a sucker for beautiful photographs and was surprised not to find the photographer's name prominently displayed anywhere on the book. With a little digging (no pun intended), it turns out it's author Vera Greutink's talented (and pretty humble) husband who should take the credit for the majority of these. The spread which shows photographs of the harvests for different months during the year is particularly well shot.
I found myself reading this thinking "It would be great if she also included..." only to find she did exactly that a few pages later. Packed with practical advice, recipes and step-by-step guides to creating everything from your own potting compost, to a Mexican-themed polyculture (which I'm eager to try for myself next year), this book is ideal for anyone starting out trying to incorporate permaculture principles into their garden or allotment.
But it also has some delightful nuggets of knowledge for more experienced practitioners. Her writing is easily accessible and evocative; I particularly love the terms 'thriller, filler and spiller' to describe each plant's role in a mini polyculture potager.
There is a handy month-by-month guide, which can be found in many other books, but is still useful here. If you're looking for a year-round salad bar, you'll find how to achieve it in these pages! There's also some more unusual plants suggested, including celtuce, a lettuce that never bolts or forms a head and has a crunchy stem you can eat.
A follower of no-dig principles for over 15 years, Vera has plenty of experience to share with her readers about the best way to approach it both on a small and larger scale, such as in a community garden. She also includes square foot bed planting and an easy-to-follow guide to plant families for crop rotation.
With a young familiy and a full-time job, Vera and her husband can only work on their garden 1-2 evenings a week and at weekends, which makes the reader more inclined to think 'I can do that' rather than 'I wish I had time to do that'.
I have a friend who is convinced that a permaculture garden cannot be both productive and beautiful (just for the record, she hasn't based this on my own garden as she lives way down South)! I'm tempted to get her this for Christmas to show her otherwise.
Edible Paradise can be bought online from the publisher Permanent Publications, for £14.40 (+ tax and shipping).