Gardening to Eat is a charming, informative book. It starts by teaching us about various types of gardens, organic gardening, composting, companion planting, crop rotation and pest control. But you won’t feel overwhelmed, I promise. This isn’t a textbook – it’s like a favorite aunt is visiting from the country, and over a cup of tea and cookies, she shares the wisdom of her years with you.
I’ve grown large vegetable gardens for decades, and thought I knew just about everything. But did I know that baking broken eggshells will make the edges sharper for repelling slugs? No, I didn’t. Have I heard ‘weeds’ and ‘blow torch’ mentioned in the same sentence before? No, I haven’t. I give Auntie a few more cookies and encourage her to keep talking. We chat about pests and weeds, and I‘m eager to start planning out my garden.
Then suddenly she exclaims, ‘beans!’ and starts telling me their strengths and weaknesses, what conditions beans like, and whether they can grow in containers (yes!). She also gives me a ‘top tip’ about successional sowings. There’s many types of beans to choose from and different ways to plant them, so Auntie makes sure I understand everything.
Then, she reaches for her purse, pulls out a stack of recipe cards, and hands one to me with a smile. Thai Green Bean Curry sounds delicious. The recipe is written in an easy to follow, friendly manner. I’m handed another card. Spice and Easy Five-a-Day Rice. ‘Good for using up leftovers’, she tells me, and then she announces, ‘beetroot!’
Soon I’m as enraptured with beetroot as I was with beans. She guides me through the learning process once again. As she hands me recipes for Beetroot Burgers with Horseradish Sauce and Beetroot Dahl, I start to wonder if she’d like to live in my guest room forever.
We keep discussing vegetables in alphabetical order, right on through tomatoes, until Auntie has given me all of her recipe cards. I think she’s happy her accumulated knowledge has been passed on. I wish I’d met Auntie when I was younger and just learning about gardening. I hope you’ll invite her for a visit and a chat. Be sure to bake some cookies.