Get Fresh

Author: Dennis Greville
Publisher: New Holland, $34.99

Subtitled “How to grow delicious vegetables and herbs in New Zealand”, this new publication by Christchurch writer Dennis Greville is a large format, colourful and appealing guide for the beginner vegetable gardener. Home grown produce is probably the single biggest gardening craze at the moment and while there is a wealth of information around, it is not always easy to know where to start. You could do worse than starting with this book.

The first 40 pages have basic information – soil preparation, sowing seed, organic spray recipes and the like, followed by 90 pages of alphabeticised listings of most popular vegetables and herbs and then a short month by month guide. So it is the one to two page spread on each of 60 crops which is the bulk of the book. It is not without fault or omission – how far apart to place the plants is not always included (and that is really basic info), nor is the length of growing season always given. There is little detail on successional plantings. But that said, it is a practical, hands-on book with mouthwatering photography written for New Zealand conditions. Despite the publisher’s hype, I would call it a book for the learner or the beginner. Once you have been motivated to master the basics and enjoyed the initial harvests, you probably move on to the less pictorial but more comprehensive Yates Guide.