The Urban Vegetable Patch by Grace Paul – a review by Myrna Robins…

The Urban Vegetable Patch

This  neat, small hardback is the work of  an editor and writer who taught herself how to grow vegetables while living in various house shares in London.  She maintains that all the vegetables in this book can be grown in almost any space – be it a balcony, part of a community garden, a window sill, paved area or roof terrace.

In answer to the question, why do this? she offers four good reasons: firstly, for the environment – help combat climate change as food production and transportation are huge contributors to climate change, secondly, for our own well-being – gardening has the same positive effect on our brains as going for a walk. Then the benefits of social interaction can be huge – meeting other gardeners  and exchanging tips,  gossip and seeds and finally to save money, as Paul points out that with good planning, by growing high yielding produce, gardeners become veggie self-sufficient.

Grace Paul, writer and editor

She suggests that new gardeners think carefully about what they like to eat and what will be best for their space Much practical information follows, on tools required , soil and compost, instructions for a no-dig patch.  Watering, how to plant and  natural pest control are also dealt with in detail.

Even those with no outdoor space can grow  herbs and  veggies on window ledges, while those living high up in city buildings can create green roof terraces filled with climbers like beans and cucumbers. Chapter four gets growing, with a chart of herbs and vegetables with keys to their season, where best to plant and how long until harvest time.

The more obvious  choices are salad leaves, beans, courgettes and radishes, but you will find tomatoes, peppers, chard, squash, onion, beetroot and even carrot and potatoes on her list.  She tells us how to store our produce, and offers a recipe for  each item. The latter are mostly pretty basic, although I must admit I have never tried roasting radishes which Paul recommends highly. There is a detailed index and list of online and print resources for enthusiasts.

One of the enchanting Rachel Hillis paintings

Instead of photographs,  there are numerous colour illustrations by Rachel Hillis which add pages of charm,  while the book designer has used appropriate colour for each page to suit the vegetable – green for salad leaves, red for tomatoes etc. This all adds up to producing one of the most attractive little DIY guides I have encountered.

Myrna Robins

The Urban Vegetable Patch: a modern guide to growing sustainably whatever your space, by Grace Paul. Published by Hardie Grant Books, London, 2021. Click HERE to read more about the publishers.

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