Book Review: A History of Kitchen Gardening by Susan Campbell

A History of Kitchen Gardening has been reissued as an update to the 1996 version.  The reason for the reissue is that Susan Campbell is now able to talk about the real garden behind the book, Pyewell Park in Hampshire rather than the fictional garden Charleston Kedding, she used in the first printing.
The book is a thick paperback and made from that rough recycled-type paper, I am sure you know the type I mean.  Whilst it is a heavy large book it is constructed well enough and is good quality.  There are few things as annoying in a book than one that is too big for its mode of construction and that falls apart after one reading.

The illustrations in the book are also by Susan and are completely fitting and very beautiful.  Probably my favourite one is below, who cannot love something called a 'potato dangler'?  They work well with the type of paper used too.  I almost cannot explain that observation, but there is something about the simplicity of the illustrations and their style that would look out of place on bleached white shiny paper.
Every aspect of kitchen gardening is covered: from location and water, to compost, the pinery (for pineapples), the potting shed, the mushroom shed and pests and diseases.  I hope I am not alone in not knowing about mushroom sheds?  I probably read that chapter with the most wonder and interest.  I also read the information on growing fruit trees avidly, it talks of quince and medlar trees, two of my favourite fruit trees.  My regular readers will know of my quest for a quince and I will take any hints I can find on how to encourage my tree to fruit.

The final chapter is on the gardeners themselves.  It looks at the duties of the Head Gardener, the foremen and apprentices and the (limited) role of women in the garden.
It is a truly interesting book, you might think that you have only a passing interest in kitchen gardening, but even if that is so I am pretty confident that if you picked this book up and started flipping through the pages you would find it hard to put down. It has the perfect mix of fascinating insights into the past plus nuggets of information that have informed my gardening going forward.

The History of Kitchen Gardening is published by Unicorn Publishing Group


  1. Great review - it's odd that the paper makes such a difference, but you're quite right, it does. I have just added this book to my reading list. I have just been admiring the blossom on the quince trees here. They have never set fruit, but I'm optimistic that I'll be inundated with quince one day.

    1. thanks - it would be a luxury to grumble about a glut of quinces - we can both live in hope :)

  2. Interesting book, I now have an overwhelming desire to own a mushroom shed.
    Thanks for the review.


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