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How to Grow Your Food: A Guide for Complete Beginners

Andy McKee

15th July, 2011

Taking into account the limited space available to the urban gardener, Clift and Cuthbert have produced a tome that’s perfect for the inner city horticulturalist, says Andy McKee

Compelling evidence of the major health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and outdoor interaction with greenspace in urban areas has emerged over the past few decades - all of which combine to give major potential health benefits from grow-your-own. As a result, there have been dozens of local and national projects aimed at getting people to grow at least some of their own food, with varying degrees of success.

Up until now each project has had to provide its own literature, often resulting in expensive and poorly designed booklets. Green Books hopes to change that by providing a professionally produced book that is designed specifically for councils to give to residents. How to Grow Your Food: A Guide for Complete Beginners by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert is a full-colour paperback that covers all the basics in an accessible style and highlights the small, easily achievable steps you can take to a level of self-sustainability.

How to Grow Your Food does not look like a council handout. It’s a regular book widely available through online and High Street retailers. It's full of appealing colour photographs which have been used to remove the need for daunting blocks of text, and the writing style is direct, unfussy and to the point. The authors have concentrated on a selection of fruit, vegetables and herbs that are simple to grow in very little space, such as on a sunny balcony or on a rooftop garden. They have stayed clear of greenhouses and other expensive garden equipment  - a wise decision, given that their target audience includes low-income families.

Growing fruit and vegetables is a big subject, and squeezing even a small selection of plants into such a small volume is no easy task. Happily the authors have done a good job of deciding what should go in, and what really had to be left out. For complete novices, this book is a helpful, unthreatening guide to their first few seasons as a gardener, whether they have a balcony, bare concrete, a patio or a larger patch of ground. It’s not for committed gardeners but if you’re looking for some measure of self-sustainability and aren’t quite sure how to go about it, How to Grow Your Food: A Guide for Complete Beginners is an invaluable resource.

How to Grow Your Food: A Guide For Complete Beginners by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert (£5.99, Green Books Guides) is available from Amazon

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