This week’s Nonfiction November post is one that I always enjoy reading, but have never actually participated in before. It’s hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, and runs as follows:
You can share 3 or more books on a single topic that you’ve read and can recommend (be the expert); you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you’ve been dying to read (ask the expert); or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).
Shortly after I move into my new flat (I hope), I will finally reach the top of the list for the local allotments and be allocated a plot. I’ve done some extremely small-scale vegetable growing in my current home – pots and growbags – and I really love it. While I can’t imagine that I will ever be genuinely self-sufficient, I would love to get good enough at gardening to live off my own produce during summer and autumn, as well as having some to give away to friends. I’ve read a few books about growing your own veg, but they have focused mostly on container gardening. Now that I should have access to more room, I want to expand my knowledge and understanding of sustainable and self-sufficient gardening. Here are the books I am planning to read in order to help with that:
- The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency: The Classic Guide for Realists and Dreamers by John Seymour
Tempting as it is to get Seymour’s original 1976 book with its gorgeous The Good Life-esque illustrations, this edition, published this year, apparently considers environmental sustainability in a lot more depth.
- Crofts and Crofting by Katherine Stewart
According to some of the reviews of this book, Stewart has 92 years’ crofting experience. I assume she was not personally in charge for all of that time, unless she is from a race of immortal beings, but it’s still impressive. Although crofting is a specifically Scottish way of managing land, and the climate in the south of England is pretty different to the Highlands and Islands, I’m still very interested in the history of self-sufficiency in the UK.
- Grow for Flavour by James Wong
I enjoyed Homegrown Revolution by Wong, which I read last year, and I also enjoyed his Guardian column. Homegrown Revolution focused mostly on successfully cultivating crops that are not usually homegrown in the UK (goji berries, sweet potatoes). Looking at the previews, this seems like it is more about how to get the most out of the veg that we more typically think of as allotment fare, like strawberries and summer squash.
- No Dig Organic Home and Garden by Charles Dowding
The No Dig method of gardening has been getting a lot of attention in recent years, and this book sets itself apart from the others (in my estimation, at least) by claiming that it works as well for small gardens as for large plots. It contains a few recipes, but if I understand correctly it functions mainly as a no-dig manual.
- Allotment Month by Month: How to grow your own fruit and veg by Alan Buckingham
This seems to be a very good all-around reference book – what to sow and harvest when, dealing with pests etc. There are a whole range of allotment books available and I’m not really sure what sets one apart from the others – this has very good reviews though, both from beginners and people with more experience.
As suggested above, I am really keen to know more about this topic, so I would welcome any recommendations for good books on the subject!