Apart from a passion for gardening I also have a great love for books…not just any books, it’s actually gardening books !! I’ve collected gardening books for many years and enjoy buying, borrowing and swapping any books I can find on gardens, nature and food.

I also love receiving books as gifts and I know that the person choosing the book knows just what I like to read…and also browse through. Ok, I’ll admit that I just love beautiful images of stunning gardens. I can spend a lot of time just looking at the pictures and dreaming of creating such amazing gardens on my property. Isn’t dreaming the first part of creating ??

One book I was recently given was A taste of the unexpected by Mark Diacono (Thanks Mum !!). Mark Diacono is the head gardener at River Cottage and has a passion for growing amazing organic food. I’ve enjoy watching the British TV series River Cottage and loved reading more from the talented gardener.

When I read the inside cover the first line grabbed my attention…Life is too short to grow ordinary food. Well I agree with that as I enjoy growing and eating delicious interesting food… I had to read on.

Mark explains throughout the book that it’s easy to grow staple foods like potatoes, onions and carrots, which are readily available in most stores, and suggests we grow those foods that are expensive to buy, difficult to find or the foods that we love to eat the most. I totally agree with him as I’ve sometimes wondered over the years why I bother growing potatoes when I can buy them in a local store. Yes home grown veggies are organic, are grown in rich fertile soil and have loads more nutrients than most store bought veggies, BUT wouldn’t it be nicer to grow more of the expensive fruit and veg and save money while enjoying delicious organic foods ??

“Growing your own food should be about inviting new flavours into the kitchen, about eating what’s in season at its absolute finest” Mark Diacono.

At the moment Capsicum are around (AUD)$12.00 per kilo to buy. I’ll load my garden with capsicum at that price !! Recently I was in a store in Sydney and Starfruit (Carambola) were about $16.00 per kilo and I have no idea where they were grown. We grow Starfruit in our garden and they are just so delicious…but I wouldn’t pay $16.oo per kilo for them !!

So Mark’s ideals in this book really made me think about what I would like to grow next and I’ll admit that I’ve now changed a few plans for the Autumn and Winter crops and will also redo my wishlist for the garden. I’ll spend time browsing online for some ideas for amazing plants to grow and start dreaming of the delicious meals and snacks I can make from these divine foods.

size of seedMany online seed companies have a range of heirloom and sometimes unusual plants to grow. I’ll start with www.greenharvest.com.au and find out what I can grow in my climate. Maybe I’ll find a few species I haven’t tried yet !! I was glad to find Yacon included in the book and they are referred to as ‘Buried Treasure’. Yacon are a lovely plant to grow and have crunchy sweet tubers eaten raw or cooked. Find out more info on them here - Try growing this delicious little treat !!

If you have limited space available for gardens then really consider the foods that you love to eat the most, the foods that are expensive but you’d love to enjoy, what fresh ingredients do you need readily available (for me it’s loads of parsley) and what fresh foods would you provide for your family. This will help with your Shopping List or Wish List as Mark refers to, and will get you started on your garden plans…full of delicious foods !!

As Mark quotes in the book - “Life is too short to grow unremarkable food. It’s simple not worth the time or effort and - happily- it’s no more tricky to grow utterly delicious than it is the entirely ordinary”

I’ll now grow utterly delicious foods in my garden from now on..Who’s coming for dinner ?


Cath xxx

© cath manuel 13 january 2014

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