Book Review. “The Edible Backyard” by Kath Irvine. Published by Godwit (soft cover) Price $50. Reviewed by Tony Orman
I’ve never quite worked out why more outdoor chaps don’t get into vegetable gardening at home. It’s sort of back to nature, it’s organic-free like the game or fish you bring home, and it’s an absorbing, satisfying challenge. It’s environmental! Whether you’re already into growing your own “veggies” or would like to, this is the book for you.
You can’t always believe the blurb on the dust jacket of books but in the case of Levin permaculture expert Kath Irvine’s new book The Edible Backyard described as a “practical, step-by-step guide” you can!
It is indeed an excellent guide to growing great produce at home.
Kath Irvine explains that she began growing vegetable for health reasons.
“My first garden was for my first baby. I was set on eating spray free vegetables, having spent my young years covered in eczema from a chemical sensitivity. Thing was I knew nothing about gardening and I chose the worst possible place possible for for my veggie patch.”
At first she was somewhat over-whelmed as most crops flopped and weeds flourished.
“When it all felt hopeless, I’d shut my eyes against that weedy, soggy unproductive patch and imagine my dream garden — it was just the thing to perk me up and set me on my way again.”
That epitomised her motivation to strive to achieve her goal.
“Know your garden dream before you begin,” she advises in her opening words. “Tuck it in your back pocket for when you feel low or need inspiration — you’ll get there. And it’s going to be amazing.”
That’s the encouraging words for any would-be vegetable gardener and experienced “veggie” growers. Besides author Kath Irvine is being realistic – every gardener has “flop crops.” But that’s a part of the fun of sparring with the vagaries of seasons and other variables. It’s a challenge in many ways while the end result of chemical free vegetables is very satisfying and wholesome.
Kath Irvine has learned from “trial and error” and she’s not afraid to admit it. Based on that accumulated experience gathered over the years she is strongly qualified to give sound, practical advice.
The Edible Backyard is full of information, with soil fertility the foundation for success.
The book is liberally illustrated with excellent photos and diagrams. In the latter half of the 350 page book are an invaluable month by month outline of the planting year, some recommended reading and New Zealand sources for such things as plants, seeds, natural fertilisers and composting systems.
The Edible Backyard is a superb book and highly recommended.