Book Review: The Windowsill Gardener by Liz Marvin and Gardening to Eat by Becky Dickinson

I wanted and was happy to be asked to review these books as both are subjects I am really interested in.  We all garden for different reasons and in different ways and these two books capture two of these areas.  I have not paid for these books and my words and opinions are as ever my own.

I have long been of the opinion that windowsills are a very important part of my gardening.  I started growing houseplants on windowsills from an early age and they still are an important place for me to start seeds off and take cuttings.  I once lived in a house with hardly any windowsills, I did not notice when I bought the house, but I soon did notice and it meant I had logistical challenges whilst living there.  This book caught my eye as it highlights the glories of windowsills and how plants in our homes can transform our lives.

This book says it will take us through 50 easy to grow plants and it successfully does so.  This is primarily because Liz tells us how to grow plants successfully.  This book is not a list of plants to buy, but good sensible advice on what you need to know about compost, pests and positioning.  There is good advice about watering which is central to good indoor plant care.  These plants will be completely reliant on how they are cared for and so understanding what we need to do is vital.  

The plants are a good mix of decorative and edible.  Liz explains the benefits for our wellbeing of both.  Liz also tells us about growing in tiny outdoor spaces such as a small patio or balcony.  It is a small yet comprehensive book.

The book is delightfully illustrated by Annie Davidson, including a visual index which I thought a lovely feature.

I loved this book, I learned things from it and it is a nice size to be kept to hand and checked regularly.  I thoroughly recommend it.  It would make a great gift especially for someone moving into a new home.

I think most people who grow vegetables are always interested in new ways to cook with them.  This book is special as not only does it give you good recipes to try, it also tells you how to grow them.  

Becky tells us in the book why we should grow food and the benefits for us and the environment of doing so.  For many people the connection with the natural world has been lost.  Vegetables are what you buy from a supermarket as it is quick and easy to do so.  They may not have someone in their family to pass down gardening tips, they may not have outdoor space or not a lot of space and, quite frankly, the thought of growing food can feel a bit mystical.  This book helps you through all this, Becky gently leads us through overcoming barriers to gardening and deciding what and where to grow them.

This book covers all you might need to know about vegetable growing, I was very impressed by how much information it contained and how accessibly it has been written.  

Each vegetable mentioned is graded by its Strengths and Weaknesses, Conditions needed, whether it can be grown in a container and an added Top Tip.  I loved this approach.  I loved that in the Beetroot section one of the strengths is that it will turn your wee pink.  This made me laugh and also nod in recognition.  For peas the weakness is that the yield can be small for the space required.  This is true and if space is limited you may decide to prioritise something more productive.  If you have the space though, the strength listed is indeed true - the taste!

The recipes are very good.  I shall be making 'Brazilian inspired sweetcorn and black bean stew' without a doubt.  I am growing perpectual spinach this year for the first time so 'Superfast spinach, chickpea and peanut butter curry' is now on my list to try.

I like that the book has those shiny pages that allow for a certain amount of splashage when cooking (is that just me who splashes food on the cook book whilst cooking?).

This is a great book, worthy of buying for yourself or for the veg gardener in your life.

Gardening to Eat by Becky Dickinson is published by White Owl Books/Pen and Sword.

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