I have been thinking about reviewing a few of the gardening and self-sufficiency related books that I so dearly enjoy reading. One of the things my wife and I love to do during the winter months is to "try" and catch up on our reading so that we can justify spending a day every so often tooling about the used bookstores in our area in an attempt to uncover more of those hidden gems that are tucked away on dusty shelves just waiting for us to find. Some of my most rewarding accomplishments are those that I have taken from the page of a book and turned into a reality, having an idea manifest from mere words to an actual tangible creation is always an enlightening experience.
That said, I thought it would be fitting to start off with a newer book I just finished reading that, in my mind, truly exemplifies the pure unadulterated joy of gardening, The Alternative Kitchen Garden an A-Z written by Emma Cooper. This young author tends a very diverse garden plot where her and husband Pete can be found enthusiastically growing and experimenting with a wide variety of different vegetables, herbs, fruits, and berries...anything that can possibly be grown in their climate. Emma also keeps plants going in their geodesic dome greenhouse and raises chickens on her property in the UK. I have found that some of my favorite gardening books come from this region as the climate is so very similar to our own in the Pacific Northwest, thus the advice given is most pertinent.
One of the things I like about this particular book is that it's an especially valuable resource for those with small garden plots, showing the limitless possibilities of what can be achieved in a modest area of land. Emma shares her personal thoughts and experiences growing organic food and raising chickens on her small homestead with a refreshingly witty and down to earth sense of humor that sets this read apart from many of the stodgy and strictly serious gardening books out there. I should also mention that all of the information in this book is presented in a very environmentally conscientious manner.
Perhaps what really piqued my interest was the wide diversity of topics and plants that she covered. Do you know what xynophyl is? Want to try growing Achoca? Well, besides covering all of the "normal" garden veggies one of Emma's passions is to try new and unusual varieties in her garden...me too. All in all I thoroughly appreciated this book for the reasons listed above plus the fact that Emma is a fellow blogger whose thought provoking posts about gardening always impart on me a little more knowledge than I started with. So check out her book and blog sometime...you just might like it too.
Emma's gardening blog can be found at http://coopette.com/blog/ and she also produces The Alternative Kitchen Garden podcast (an online radio show).