The Allotment Source Book - by Caroline Foley

Some of you may know of “The Allotment Handbook” by Caroline Foley.  It was one of the first books I bought when I got my plot – it has a great “whats going on this month on the plot” section which was really helpful for a new gardener who had no idea what they were doing, and a real step up from my first year’s planning (reading the back of seed packets!).  Well Caroline has a new book out – its called The Allotment Source Book.

The good: Essentially its the Allotment Handbook’s bigger, cleverer sister.  This really does seem to be everything you want to know if you are a beginner (or even before you get your plot). Its got beautiful colour photos and drawings – of real people and their plots, and it really starts from square one.  Allotments – what are they, how are they run, what are the rules, how do you get one, how do you decide which one to take?  After years as a site rep, introducing newbies to allotment life I found that Caroline’s advice on these issues really rang true for me.  

Then it goes on to more traditional gardening topics – equipment, germination, growing, watering, pests and diseases, harvesting, etc. It seems to me to be an excellent book for beginners, as it covers many aspects of gardening that some books take for granted. It has a monthly section – what’s in season, what do do, what to watch out for and (for the swots), what you can do to “get ahead” (oh I wish I was that organised!). Its all about re-use and recycling too (how very “now”!) – I have a problem with birds on my plot and can’t wait to try making a bird scarer from a plastic bottle, wire coathanger and two margarine tub lids (it spins and rattles apparently!).

The bad:  My gut feel is that the trained horticulturalists or experienced gardeners will not learn an awful lot from it. But I’ve been gardening 10 years and still consider myself a beginner and I found it useful.

The ugly:  Nothing really.  This is a beautiful book which means I will never take it to my plot – which is a shame. But there are other books for that – and I will try and cover them in future reviews.

The Allotment Source Book by Caroline Foley is available from New Holland Publishers. It retails at £20, but I think its worth it. Click on the link and enter the discount code BHAF at the checkout to receive 20% off AND free P&P. (Offer valid until 31st March 2011.)

The small print: I was offered a free copy to review this but was under no obligation to say nice things and was given the discount code before the publishers saw the review! 

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