Growing Organics

Nick Hamilton with Philippa Jamieson (New Holland, $29.95)

Mark is decidedly sceptical of the claim that carrot fly don’t generally exceed 15cm of altitude and therefore planting your carrots inside a low box hedge or similar will reduce their infestation. But he is currently on a mission to decode organic gardening and to unravel its leanings to unscientific sweeping claims (somewhat like blind faith at times) so he read this book from cover to cover. It claims to be a very handy New Zealand guide to gardening the organic way. It isn’t. It is a British book, adapted to New Zealand conditions by changing south facing to north facing and June to December, with the addition of the occasional extra section such as one on possum control (maybe replacing a section on coping with moles and squirrels?).

What it is, is a handy and sound book giving a basic introduction to good vegetable gardening practice, along with a few fruits, particularly for those who live in cold climates. Good gardening practice is universal and not limited to organics. The section on organic pest control is very average at best and it is not going to help you to deal with infestations of insects in your brussel sprouts. It does, however, avoid the excesses of fervour sometimes associated with organics and encourages successful home production of food without the usual chapter on chemical controls. It is a book for the novice gardener but not a reference for the experienced gardener who is looking to cast out the use of chemical controls and wanting reliable alternatives.

ISBN 978-1-86966-224-0