Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Complete Book of Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit By Matthew Biggs, Jekka McVicar, and Bob Flowerdew Kyle Books, £30

The word ‘complete’ is always a risk to use in a gardening book title, always running the risk of being a preposterous claim, for a subject where there is always something new to learn, and so many exceptions that disprove rules.

But this compilation of practical advice comes from a formidable trio of authors and covers each stated group of plants in such detail that cerimans (the fruit of Swiss cheese plants) is included in the fruit section and water chestnuts in the vegetables. The amount of information on each plant is exhaustive, way beyond the generic, testament to the knowledge of the authors. This tome will give advice on how to take cuttings from tomatoes for fruits at Christmas, and growing raspberries in a greenhouse. There are are also illustrated recipes included for many of the crops in the book.

The decision to list each section alphabetically by latin name seems a trifle clumsy, given that none but the most esoteric of gardeners is likely to instinctively search for strawberries in an A-Z title by the name ‘Fragaria’, or for tomatoes by its latin name ‘Lycopersicon’. This aside, few single tomes could claim to possess such a rich collection of growing wisdom.

If exhaustive information on each individual crop wasn’t enough, a glossary, list of disease-resistant vegetables and a priceless yearly calendar of what to do when for fruits, vegetables and herbs rounds the content off to emphatically justice its title.

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