Veg Street: Grow Your Own Community by Naomi Schillinger

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Veg Street: Grow Your Own Community by Naomi Schillinger

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Category: Lifestyle
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An accessible, empowering book which will encourage you to grow your own food - and get to know your neighbours better.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: March 2013
Publisher: Short Books
ISBN: 978-1780721125

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As a child Naomi Schillinger helped her parents to grow fruit and vegetables in their South London garden and the urge to grow resurfaced when she had her own property. It wasn't just the growing which she remembered, but the sharing of the produce and sense of community which went with it. Soon after starting to grow food for herself she was a prime mover in getting whole streets involved in growing fruit and vegetables in their front gardens, making the most of recycled materials and free seeds and compost. When we're constantly urged to reduce food miles what could be better than growing your food (quite literally) on your own doorstep?

It's a sensible way of starting: think of growing in tubs and window boxes or any available bit of garden. There's no list of expensive equipment that you're going to have to buy but sensible advice about securing window boxes and making your own compost. It's the compost which feeds the plants, you see, not the fancy spade. Forget, too, any thoughts of having to do hard labour - where there are simple ways of doing things they're shared and the advantages and disadvantages discussed.

The book is divided into the twelve months of the year and in each month you get advice on building a community, what needs doing with regard to the fruit and veg and handy tips such as deterring animals from using your veg beds as a toilet area or collecting containers. They're tips that work - I can guarantee that! An hour or so's work in my garden has kept the cats out for quite some time now - and whilst I used to be known as the woman with the pink bath in her garden I no longer worry. It's February and I'm still eating the food we grew in the bath last summer. You don't need to be as extreme as having a bath in the garden - you can use old suitcases, food cans - in fact anything which will take a hole in the bottom for drainage and hold compost.

You don't have to start in January - step on at any time and join the fun. There's advice on harvesting - some October plantings will be ready to harvest in the following February. Obviously, the longer you've been working on your plantings the more you'll get out of it, but I'm constantly surprised by how much is available from the garden at any time of year. It's snowing at the moment, but I'm just about the pick some very young chives from the garden to have with an egg sandwich for lunch - homemade bread and eggs from the man in the village.

I've read many a gardening book where I've been left feeling that I needed a degree in difficult words and a lot more expertise than I was ever likely to acquire before I could even get my wellies on, but Veg Street gives a great 'can do' feel. Even if you don't know which end of a plant pot is up you'll be left thinking about the possibilities. And believe me there is NO taste which beats food you've grown yourself.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Naomi and friends plant flowers in streets - if this interests you then we can recoomend On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries by Richard Reynolds. If you're a complete beginner then you'll enjoy Allotted Time: Two Blokes, One Shed, No Idea by Robin Shelton. Those who have access to an allotment will appreciate The Allotment Experience by Ruth Binney, but if it's just a bit of the back garden that's available then have a look at Patio Produce by Paul Peacock.

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Buy Veg Street: Grow Your Own Community by Naomi Schillinger at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Veg Street: Grow Your Own Community by Naomi Schillinger at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Veg Street: Grow Your Own Community by Naomi Schillinger at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Veg Street: Grow Your Own Community by Naomi Schillinger at


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