Grow: A Family Guide to Growing Fruit and Veg by Ben Raskin
|Grow: A Family Guide to Growing Fruit and Veg by Ben Raskin|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A tardis of a book - you'd never believe that so much could be packed into such a small space! Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 48||Date: February 2017|
|Publisher: leaping Hare Press|
|External links: Author's website|
I worried when I looked at this book: Grow, it said, A family guide to growing fruit and veg. Why did it worry me? Well, it's a mere 48 pages and the cover says that it includes Games, stickers and MORE! I have weighty tomes which don't completely cover what I need to know about growing fruit and veg, so wasn't this going to fall a little short? Well, it doesn't - not at all.
The Book's aimed at the eight to eleven year age group and it's perfectly pitched. It's never patronising and you might well need to go and look elsewhere if you need more detail on a particular subject, but there's basic information here about what makes a plant a plant and plant structure, what they need to grow, including nutrients, some of which was new to me and I've been gardening for more decades than I care to remember! There's sensible advice on how to spot deficiencies, that many an older gardener might appreciate along with the clear explanation about why plants grow in some seasons and not others. (I loved the fold-out temperature chart.) You're also going to get your compost bin started.
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed? OK - we've got a game to play. It's called Runner Beans and Hose Pipes - a gardener's version of Snakes and Ladders. It folds out from the book and you'll need a die and something to use as a counter for each player. Have a break and then we'll get back to composting (interspersed with another game and some stickers). As well as compost you'll need some liquid feed to give your plants the occasional boost - there are instructions for a nettle or comfrey mix, but beware of the smell.
The tools required are all basic and I liked the stress on the health and safety aspects of using garden tools: it's all sensible advice. No one wants to be on the wrong end of a child wielding a large garden spade. Sturdy footwear is a must too. Once you're all kitted out it's time to look at plants - only we're going to begin with weeds - what they are, how best to deal with them and who benefits from them. The plants we want to grow will probably start off as seedlings and there are good suggestions for getting them off to a good start. Once we get on to specific crops we find out which are easiest to grow and which are harder - and how long it will be before you're eating them.
You can't grow the same crop on a piece of ground year after year without diseases creeping in, so there are illustrations showing how crops are rotated. I've been used to leaving land fallow one year in four, but that seems to have gone by the board now. There's a run-down on the top ten veg, top three fruit and harvesting seed so that you can start again next year. The book's packed fuller than a jar of your own strawberry jam.
I've met kids who think that fruit and vegetables magically appear in a supermarket, and I've encountered far too many who are extremely picky about what they eat: experience tells me that getting kids involved in producing their own food, even if it's only a pot on the windowsill is a cure for both problems It also leads to adults who will see the potential and pleasure in having even a small garden which puts them on the food production continuum. Grow has been produced in association with the Soil Association so the emphasis is on producing food naturally and I liked the idea that if you don't succeed in growing something (even top gardeners have crop failures!) you should try again or try something different; don't just give up. It's a principle which applies to other areas of life too.
The illustrations throughout the book are excellent and there's some delightful humour: I loved the slug eating the lettuce - and the blackbird eating the slug. Grow is a splendid way to get children interested in growing their own food and finding that doing so is fun.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Younger children might appreciate Flowerpot Farm: A First Gardening Activity Book by Lorraine Harrison. We've also been very impressed by The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig.
You can read more book reviews or buy Grow: A Family Guide to Growing Fruit and Veg by Ben Raskin at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Grow: A Family Guide to Growing Fruit and Veg by Ben Raskin at Amazon.com.
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