Monday, 2 May 2011

The Gardener's Pocket Bible

The Gardener's Pocket Bible, by Roni Jay, is an excellent book. It is a little bit bigger than 'average' pocket size, but would probably fit quite snugly inside the leg pocket of a pair of cargo trousers! Often beloved of gardeners.

The book is 178 pages in length and is described by Roni Jay as a collaborative effort between Roni Jay, her mum and dad, Jill and Tony, their friend Will, who is a professional gardener, Laurie Taylor (he was the proof-reader, I think) and James Belsey, to whom she also dedicated the book.

With six people involved, one might expect this book to be a sort of camel of a gardening book, you know, the elderly joke about a camel being a horse designed by a committee?

Not a bit of it! The book is eminently readable and highly useful. It is broken down into easy to use sections and there is much information not found in books many times the size and many times the paperback) price of £7.99 (Check out Amazon, it is £6.39, though do check for p&p there.)

For example, the book will tell you if you can or cannot compost couch grass, the correct way to propagate plants, how far apart you should plant your vegetables, whether or not some insects should be discouraged or actually encouraged to live in your garden.
I have often found gardening books to be irritatingly vague about some aspects of gardening. "Avoid planting before the spring frosts" they say. Well, that's all very well, but when is the last spring frost, usually?
Roni tells you! In fairness, she warns that you can' always be certain, bit she gives a table of relative dates for Spring frosts. In Plymouth it is mid April, whilst in Birmingham late May, and Liverpool early April. (She explains why and the explanation is fascinating.)

The book also covers Autumn frosts, what you can plant, how you can plant them and where you can plant them; how to propagate plants, when you should deadhead, how to prune and which plants need pruning and when; how to garden perfectly sensibly even if there is a hosepipe ban; how to feed, mulch, weed and stake; how to feed your plants, how to make and store your own compost, what fruit to grow, how to grow and keep hedges; how to take up wildlife gardening and how to keep the wildlife you don't want out of your garden, as much as possible! And much more, besides.

The book also contains inset pocket facts which are always interesting and very often exceedingly useful, too.

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