Book review The Great Vegetable Plot – Sarah Raven

The Great Vegetable Plot – Sarah Raven

…….Inspiring my food connection

My lovely children gave this more than helpful book to me in 2005 for Christmas, the inscription reads…

“We both hope this book inspires your wonderful work even further. Hoping to see some of the products on the table!! (No pressure) Lots and Lots of Love.”

Up until that Christmas I had gardened in a very different way. I grew produce that I was successful with which meant lots of onions, leeks and carrots, second early potatoes, lettuces, beetroot, runner beans, and far too many courgettes. My family does not like runner beans very much and half a dozen courgettes from one plant is ample, but I would grow half a dozen and then the huge surplus was mainly fed to the chickens. Pumpkins that annoyingly took off like triffids across the garden and one year two whole beds of celeriac, it was a triumph but way too many taking up precious space for a very long period of time. Celeriac is a slow grower!

My husband eats anything put in front of him, handy but not challenging. My daughters a little more diverse in their tastes, but one likes piles of brassicas and mash and my youngest preferred anything but.

Its fair to say Sarah Raven changed my whole approach to vegetable gardening and connecting my ability to grow a successful range of produce and then providing delicious and exciting healthy meals. Because isn’t that connection exactly what its all about as a vegetable gardener. By the time I read this book, I was in a bit of a vegetable rut, my mother is a brilliant inventive cook as is my brother and my youngest daughter, that gene seemed to by-pass me and I never made the connection between growing food, which I love and then being creative with my crops and producing fresh tasty meals that we all like to eat.  It was that connection that was so inspiring in Sarah’s book. It was more than a revelation it was as if I had found a kindly friend, Sarah writes as if she is having a genuine conversation rather than issuing a tricky to understand instruction, its refreshing too to read her own anecdotes of what worked and what led her to write this book.

In July 1992, my husband gave me “Successful Organic Gardening” by the late great Geoff Hamilton and I was delighted to read Sarah endorsing Geoff’s use of guttering for sowing peas. Yes, that works! Geoff taught me so much, but it wasn’t until I read Sarah’s book that the penny finally dropped. Grow what you really enjoy eating and with some inspiring connecting recipes eat what you really enjoy growing!

As more and more vegetable gardening books come onto the market, “The Great Vegetable Plot” remains a firm favourite. Sarah fills the book with really readable gardening advice, great ideas and some very good recipes made with the crops grown. Coupled with lovely photographs by Jonathon Buckley this genuinely remains one of my favourite vegetable gardening books. And here’s the thing, this is a book for everyone, complete novices and old hands and those in the middle that a need a little reconnecting.