A quick review of the Edible Garden, by Alys Fowler, and a giveaway copy too

I like Alys Fowler’s writing, and while I am not enthusiastic about reading another vegetable gardening book right now–I’m writing my own, and I’m a bit tired of reading/writing about row covers–I love seeing Alys and her garden. That’s why I enjoyed her first book, Garden Anywhere. The publisher of Alys’ new-to-the-U.S. book, The Edible Garden: How to Have Your Garden and Eat It, Too, sent me a copy for review. The book was originally published as part of a BBC televsion series, but I guess, since Alys’ first book did well in the U.S., they thought they would send this one over here also. I must say I like the cover of the U.S. paperback better than the original UK one which seems kinda stuffy.

I also like how Alys opens The Edible Garden, “I want it all, the whole far-flung earth and everything in it.”

The back garden behind Alys Fowler's home.
The back garden behind Alys Fowler’s home.

Yeah, me too, and I want to grow all of it in my space. However, we’ve both learned that’s quite impossible. You can grow a lot in a small garden though. It’s all about succession planting and incorporating the things you really like all together while giving each of them enough space. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, not really, but we can show you how.

I know if we ever met, Alys and I would be fast friends. However, she lives in Britain, doesn’t seem to have a blog except through the Guardian, and I’ve never met her online or in person. Although there is a blog that says it is from her, I’m not sure I believe it. I like Alys’ red hair for obvious reasons. Her funky sense of style is cool too. She has a nice shy smile like she doesn’t really love being photographed. If so, I know how she feels. I love the photographs of her garden, her working in it, and the produce that comes from it. I guess, you could say I’m a fan which is why I said yes to a blog party for her second U.S. release.

Alys gives good advice. She and I share a similar philosophy regarding the Earth and our place in it. “I cannot teach you about your local knowledge, or about local love and loyalty, except to say that in order to know your place, and where you belong, you need to understand that you are part of an ecosystem far bigger than your needs, and that you are responsible for its health and must be a good caretaker.” I say this differently in my book, but it’s basically the same thing. Spraying chemicals isn’t good for the Earth, and it’s not good for you. Bugs are part of a healthy garden and ecosystem. Growing some of your own food makes you realize how everything is connected, and that’s a wonderful thing. The next chapter talks about mixing things up in the garden. I’m all for that.

It’s when she gets to foraging that Alys really got my attention. I don’t forage. I’ll be honest, ‘m frightened of foraging unless we’re talking about wild blackberries, poke sallett, or black walnuts from a long forgotten tree of a former neighbor. I want to eat the morel mushrooms on my property, but I won’t unless I get an expert out here first. And, yes, poke can be dangerous too if you don’t know when to pick and how to prepare it. I would eat a dandelion green, but honestly, I still harbor the idea that these plants I know are good for us, are weeds. Such is my suburban upbringing. I’ve come a long way as a country girl, but I still, occasionally, have 1970s suburban leanings.

Alys is an urban gardener in England. Brits have different climatic conditions, and they don’t allow some herbicides the U.S. allows. Good for them. Maybe one day we’ll see things differently too. Because Alys lives in an urban environment, she has learned to use urban pet poo, like that of guinea pigs or bunnies, instead of farmyard manure. It’s more accessible where she lives. I enjoyed reading about her British urban garden concerns precisely because some of them are different an American urban gardener’s concerns and very different from mine.

Other things she writes about are very familiar, and while this book covers some beginner information, she never talks down to her readers. There’s plenty of info on starting seeds, growing vegetables and flowers together, being a little wild with things, etc. In the center of the book is a listing of her favorite plants. I was glad to see oriental greens in there as they are among my favorites.

However, what I loved most about The Edible Garden: How to Have Your Garden and Eat It, Too was its visual appeal. The photographs by Simon Wheeler were scrumptious, and whoever did the layouts is very skilled. Nice endpapers, chapter headings, etc. You consider these things a lot when you’re proofing your own book, and I don’t think photographers and art directors get enough credit. Frankly, editors don’t either.

If you’re wanting a beautiful, visually entertaining, vegetable garden book with plenty of meaty information, check out The Edible Garden: How to Have Your Garden and Eat It, Too. It would make a good Christmas gift. The publisher, Viva Editions, is also giving a copy away to one of my readers. So, if you’ll comment below, I’ll choose one comment with a random number generator. This contest is only open to U.S. residents. (Sorry Canadian friends and those across the world!) The giveaway opens now and continues through next Wednesday at Midnight. The winner will be announced by Noon on Thursday. Good luck!

UPDATE: Carol P. is our grand prize winner according to random.org. I shot her an email to get her copy of the book on the way, maybe in time for Christmas vacation reading. Congrats Carol!


  1. Pingback: beautywork.info » The Ultimate Gift for Gardeners: Viva Editions Releases The Edible Garden by BBC Star Alys Fowler
  2. Joan Calder says:

    I love to read gardening books of all sorts. I read them over and over looking for a new slant on a class I am teaching.

  3. Laura D. says:

    The hand drawn cover was a nice change from photographs. And winter is made for reading gardening books. And the last summer I had a wonderful success with veggies that just produced and my normally good producers didn’t.

  4. Jeanette says:

    Winter dreams reading inspirational gardening ideas.

  5. Hi, Dee. I agree the cover is delightful!

  6. Beverly says:

    I love garden books and this would be a great read this winter. Thank you for the give a way.

  7. Lori&Hubby says:

    My daughter would adore this book, she’s a vegetarian and trying to learn how to grow her own food.

  8. Marlee says:

    Great book! I’d love to have it.

  9. Marlee says:

    Awesome book. I’d love to have it =]

  10. Susan Ingle says:

    Just in time for Christmas ~ this would make a great gift for yourself or someone else!

  11. Jennie Brooks says:

    I’ve never heard the word foraging used with people in mind; only critters. haha

  12. Kurstin Howton says:

    I LOVE gardening!!! And learning anything and everything I can about it 🙂 I would love to have this book. Looks great!!

  13. Angie H says:

    I would love to win. It sounds like something I need to read !

  14. Chiot's Run says:

    Great photos and good content – a combo I always love in a gardening book!

  15. Lynn says:

    What a wonderful blog you have. Granny Annie told me about it. The cookbook sounds great – I am intrigued.

  16. Jennie says:

    What a beautiful book. I would love to win a copy!

  17. Thanks for the review. I love the hand-drawn cover.

  18. This sounds like a “must-have” book! I found myself nodding with most of the things you said. I really enjoy foraging–but only for edibles I’m completely sure about. I tend to shy away from mushrooms, too, unless an expert IDs them.

  19. Melanie says:

    I want to grow everything too! Looks like a lovely book. Thanks for the opportunity to win it.

  20. My heart smiled when my eyes saw the beautiful book cover <3

  21. Phillip says:

    This looks like a great book and perfect for the winter months.

  22. Sue Cosgrave says:

    Thanks for the give away!, how smart of you to get us to talk to you! Hurting for moisture once again in NW Ok. And waiting for a good cover of snow to lay on top of my garden beds! Merry Christmas to all!

  23. granny annie says:

    I am excited to comment here and have an opportunity to win the book. Thank you for offering this. Also looking forward to your book.

  24. Debbie McMurry says:

    Would love to read this gardening book as I plant a very large veggie garden. Looks very interesting!

  25. Linda Belcher says:

    This book would make a great gift for my backyard farmer daughter.

  26. I love your blog and would love a copy of this book! But I really can’t wait until yours comes out! Thanks for your wonderful blog!

  27. Carol says:

    Looks like a good read!

  28. Julie Riebe says:

    Sounds like an interesting book. Given that winter has arrived here in Wisconsin, reading about gardening is going to have to replace the real dirt therapy for awhile!

  29. Lita Sollisch says:

    I’ve just begun my adventure in raised bed gardening this past season. I’ve had my ups and downs. I’m afraid more downs than ups. Since gardening has come to a standstill here in the northeast, I figured I better close down the season and clean up the beds. Lo, and behold, not a single branch of broccoli left on each and every plant. What a bummer. Perhaps Aly’s book will help me find the culprit.


  30. Carol Puckett says:

    I would love a copy of The Edible Garden as well as a copy of your book when it comes out!

  31. Jamaica says:

    OMG! she’s my favorite!!! thank you!

  32. VP says:

    Aha – came back over from FB and I can now comment. It seems that if I enter at the blog level, the comment area isn’t displayed, but if I come in at the single blog post level via a link, the comment area is there.

  33. Cherie says:

    Thanks for sponsoring the giveaway. It looks like a beautiful book! Enjoy your blogs!

  34. Angela says:

    That looks like a good winter read!

  35. Sandy Casteel says:

    My experimental edible garden need all the direction I can get from any source since I like to try things normally not Okie “friendly”.

  36. Sandy Casteel says:

    My experimental edible garden needs all the direction I can get from any source since I love to try things that you don’t normally think of as being Okie “friendly”.

  37. Mary beth says:

    Gorgeous backyard garden. I’d love to see this version and think it’s one of the few titles on edibles I’ve not already obsessed over. Need to change that!

  38. Ann says:

    This would make a lovely read while being iced in here in the piney woods of east Texas. Hope you are all snuggly and warm.

  39. Janet says:

    Great, helpful book! Thanks

  40. Do you also have to have red hair to participate in this little event here? Would not have thought a Brit book would be relevant to us, especially those of us on the prairie, if I hadn’t read it here first. Do agree it’s a very pretty cover.

  41. elizabeth says:

    I always enjoy your blog, Dee. Living not too far away in Missouri and having to adapt my gardening habits from colder weather gardens, I appreciate your advice. And love you pix.

    Also wouldn’t mind adding this to my gardening library.


  42. Debbie S says:

    Thanks for sponsoring this giveaway, I find your blog really helpful. I am really interested in growing vegetables in small spaces.

  43. Annie Earley says:

    Love the opening line! I always have great plans for Fall Gardening but when it is time to plant garden is still full of Summer Stuff. Because I always go overboard on the tomatoes in the spring!

    1. judi hively says:

      Looking forward to reading this interesting book. I’m always looking for new ways to make my garden more interesting.

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