Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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Grow Your Own – Joy Larkcom (2003)

**Grow Your Own – Joy Larkcom (2003) Frances Lincoln Books**


I still have my copy of ‘Vegetables from a Small Garden’ (the original book of which this is a much expanded new version), which I bought in a second hand shop just after I finished my Permaculture Design course 10 years ago. It has stayed with me ever since as a much respected companion in the garden, a source of wisdom and advice, packed with detailed information.

Joy Larkcom singlehandedly transformed the way we think about salad growing. In the mid-70’s, Joy and her young family set off on what they called ‘The Grand Vegetable Tour’, travelling around Europe seeking out unusual salad varieties, including many we now think of as salad garden standards, such as rocket and mizuna.

Certainly Joy’s passion for salads (undimmed over the years!) shines through in her selection of vegetables, but the main focus of this book is getting back to the basics of vegetable growing – soil, seeds, compost and good layout. The book’s strength is in its simplicity – while packed with everything you need to know to be able to garden well, it is simply and clearly laid out, unembellished by colour pictures and fancy graphics.

As a practical vegetable growing book very little else comes close. While not a complete organic gardening book (it has nothing on fruit growing for example), its emphasis on vegetables is its strength. It does lack the ‘bigger picture’ of something like John Jeavons’ ‘How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine’ (also available from Walnut Books €24.10 plus p&p), or the integrated design approach of any of the permaculture books, but what you get here is a master organic grower distilling a life’s experience of growing vegetables into one information-rich book. To start a garden without this book at your side would be like trying to start one with no seeds.