I am thrilled to accept the ALCOHOL SPRONSORSHIP PRESS AWARD for the week, administered by NZ media star Steve Braunias, for my work on the Penguin and Tui story below (More Bad Penguin). It is not that we are rum drinkers. I think it might be the greatest highlight in my writing career to date, supplanting my pride at being voted second most popular writer (beaten only by the TV reviewer) in the local paper some time ago. Fame and rum await, if not fortune.
Dear oh dear Penguin NZ yet again Same author, same editor, same publisher, same series, same sponsor BUT DIFFERENT BOOK. First the Tui NZ Fruit Garden ever so slightly embarrassingly recalled because of “allegations of plagiarism”, now the companion volume Tui NZ Vegetable Garden is recalled and to be destroyed for the same reason. A bit more than just allegations, do we think?
Penguin NZ have issued an immediate recall of all copies of this book.
There was a bit of a problem with the first version of the Tui NZ FRUIT Garden by Sally Cameron, published by Penguin NZ. In fact it was clearly quite a large problem, given that Penguin ordered an immediate recall within a few days of its release. It’s usually called plagiarism – rather too much cut and paste from copyrighted sources without acknowledgment. It was the third such embarrassing incident in quick succession for this publisher, the highest profile being Witi Ihimaera’s work, The Trowenna Sea. No matter. Publishers closed ranks and I was on a National Radio panel where other professionals explained that it was all the author’s fault and none of this could possibly be blamed on the maligned publisher.
To my astonishment, Penguin NZ, with the backing of their sponsor Tui Garden, ploughed ahead using the same author to rewrite the book and a year later they issued a second edition which was substantially different. No better, mind, but different and minus the sections which appeared to have been plagiarised.
Would you not think that both Penguin NZ and Tui Garden would have put the first book by the same author in the same series – The Tui NZ VEGETABLE Garden – under the microscope at the same time? I reviewed it when it came out in 2009 and I was far too kind. In my defence, all I can say is that it seemed markedly better than the other book which I was reviewing alongside it. When faced with the FRUIT book a year later, I questioned whether the earlier VEG book might suffer from similar problems related to cutting and pasting other people’s work. I even cited the garlic entry and gave its source as a copyright website belonging to somebody else.
Given the obvious inexperience of the author, did nobody involved think it warranted a closer look? We are talking the same book series, same author (Sally Cameron), same sponsor (Tui), same publisher (Alison Brook for Penguin), same editor (Catherine O’Loughlin). When the author is already under scrutiny, in the dock so to speak, it is difficult to believe that others involved can dump all the blame on her a second time.
It was only ever going to be a matter of time before somebody noticed. And two weeks ago, somebody identified a primary source for the Tui NZ VEGETABLE Garden and posted the following comment on my website:
“Not only has Dr D G Hessayon ripped off Sally Cameron’s Tui NZ Vegetable Garden, chapter and verse, but, he also had the temerity to do it four years prior to Sally being published.
Is it OK to lift entire chapters of books if you include a reference to that book at the end? Hope so, ‘cos I’m just finishing my book “Great Expectations” with a small reference at the back to Mr C Dickens.”
My informant was working from a more recent copy of a source publication, “The New Vegetable and Herb Expert”. English horticulturist and bestselling author, Dr Hessayon actually published his book a good ten years before Sally Cameron produced hers. It took me mere minutes to track down a copy on Trade Me. I think I paid $12 for it plus P&P and it arrived in the mail this week.
Well. Oopsy. How many examples are sufficient?
1) On turnips: Hessayon: Round is not the only shape for these Early turnips – there are also flat and cylindrical ones. There is not much variation in the globular Maincrop types sown in summer, but you can choose the yellow-fleshed Golden Ball. (page 105)
Cameron: Round is not the only shape for these early turnips – there are also flat and cylindrical ones – but there is not much variation in the globular maincrop types sown in summer. (page 174 and one can do a side by side match for much of pages 174 and 175).
2) On Brussels sprouts: Hessayon: Birds are a problem – protect the seedlings from sparrows and the mature crop from pigeons. Hoe regularly and water the young plants in dry weather. The mature crop rarely needs watering if the soil has been properly prepared…. (pages 34-5)
Cameron: Birds are a problem. Protect the seedlings from sparrows and pigeons that will eat the mature crops. (Which type of pigeons, Sally?) If scarecrows don’t work, hang cutlery from a clothes hanger. (That suggestion does appear to be a Cameron original). … Hoe around the plants regularly and water the young plants in dry weather. The mature crop rarely needs watering if the soil has been properly prepared….( page 70 -71)
Even the instructions for picking are eerily identical.
Hessayon: Begin picking when the sprouts (‘buttons’) at the base of the stem have reached the size of a walnut and are still tightly closed. Snap them off with a sharp downward tug or cut them off with a sharp knife.
Cameron: Begin picking the sprouts at the base of the stem when they have reached the size of a walnut and are still closed. Snap them off with a sharp downward tug or cut them off with a sharp knife.
Similar problems exist with broccoli, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke, the aforementioned garlic and more and I cannot claim to have done anything near a complete analysis. Given that the problems appear to be of a similar magnitude to the first version of the FRUIT book which was recalled, will we be looking at a recall of the VEG book? Maybe Tui Garden might consider whether it is a good look being affiliated to a book which claims to give good advice to New Zealand gardeners when a fair swag of it seems to have come from a book for British gardeners.
Lightning, it appears, can strike twice in the same place. It just beggars belief that editor, publisher and sponsor all appear to have failed to factor that in to their considerations.
First published in the Waikato Times and reproduced here with their permission.
The ongoing saga (and it is developing into a saga):
1) The review of the second edition of the fruit book: The Sequel – a second coming for the Tui NZ Fruit Garden
2) Does credibility and reputation count for nothing these days, or does Penguin just think we have short memories? (written upon hearing that Penguin and Tui were using the same author to rewrite the fruit book)
3) The story that started it all and that is currently the second most read article on my website, still receiving hits every day: The Tui NZ Fruit Garden – dear oh dear
4) The lead story on the Taranaki Daily News which broke the first plagiarism story. Since then I have parted company from the Daily News and moved to the Waikato Times.
5) The original review of the Tui NZ Vegetable Garden, which was far too kind and is now embarrassing to me as a reviewer. But I leave it in place because it is a good reminder – and I am considerably more thorough at reviewing garden books in NZ than many others. The Tui book did look better than the other one I was reviewing at the same time – but it, at least, was actually written by the author, based on her experience (however limited it was). Separating the genuine enthusiasts from candyfloss fashion gardening
6) The Tui NZ Flower Garden I merely add this one to complete the set. I declined to review the companion volume on kid’s gardening but I did review the flower book (same series but different author). I would not for one minute suggest that this volume suffers from plagiarism, not at all. It could only be original, for reasons which may be obvious if you read the review.
I am married to a patient and kind man but he has been looking ever more exasperated over the last two weeks. I put The Tui NZ Fruit Garden in front of him for comment because his experience with growing fruit and nuts is greater. As he dipped in and out of various chapters, he was finally moved to exclaim that he could not fathom why Tui, Tony Murrell and Rachel Vogan would put their names to this book and give it a credibility that it does not deserve.
If this seems slightly familiar to you, dear Reader, that is not a surprise. This book is the sequel – the revised edition, it tells us on the frontispiece (but not the cover). The first version was the subject of a piece I wrote this time last year, backed up by a lead story on the front page of our newspaper and picked up extensively by national media. There was a little problem with plagiarism by the author, Sally Cameron. Well, quite a big problem really – in fact an enormous one. The publishers, Penguin, pulled the book from sale immediately, mere days after it had been released. Nobody associated with the book ever commented on that withdrawal from sale so the general assumption was it had all died a natural death. No. Little did we know, they were preparing for a second coming. And here it is. It looks the same. The author is the same. The cover has been recycled. So is it the same?
I think the plagiarised sections have gone. I didn’t do an exhaustive analysis but I would guess that they have been quite thorough, given there are legal issues to be considered. But the plagiarism was only half the problem. In reviewing the original version, I was equally critical of the woeful lack of experience and knowledge by the author. And the rewrite has highlighted this even more. At least when the author was cutting and pasting information from the internet, she was generally getting it from credible sources even if they were from overseas. Now that it is in her own words, it often plumbs new depths. “A Chilean guava, pomegranate or feijoa bush can offer hedging that is just as effective as a Buxus.” Really? Shame the pomegranate is deciduous and if you clip your feijoa like you clip your buxus, you will be taking off all next year’s fruiting tips. Or, when writing about grapevines needing support: “This can be shaped or manipulated at leisure to provide a sculptured habitat for the vines to drape from.”
Even worse is the advice on protecting your grapes: “Broad pieces of netting with holes wide enough to let the sun in but keeping, bugs, diseases and birds out help let the fruit ripen nicely on the vine.” Leaving aside the description of broad pieces, since when has any netting kept out diseases and what fine grade of mesh would you need to keep out bugs? Wasps don’t even rate a mention but they are one of the biggest problems, in our experience. The sort of information that the reader needed and deserved to be told is that Albany Surprise is an excellent selection for marginal and humid conditions. Because it has a tougher skin, if you can net the birds out then the wasps can’t pierce the skin and get in to the fruit.
At least lychees, mangoes and pineapples have been consigned to a brief two page spread at the end of the book, under the title of “Fruit not commonly grown in New Zealand owing to climatic restrictions” but it is hard to understand why carambola or star fruit, which is equally marginal, remains with a four page spread of its own in the main body of the text. Maybe the author wanted to show off her recipe for pickled carambola? Proper cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpum) should have been grouped with the lychees and mangoes too. Equally hard to understand is why tomatoes are included in a book about fruit gardens. Yes, botanically they are a fruit but every home gardener and cook regards them as a vegetable and they are grown in the veg garden, not the orchard. Doing a cut and paste of the tomato chapter from the companion volume, the Tui NZ Vegetable Garden, could be described as having a bob each way but it is unnecessary padding in a book about growing fruit. Some of the other inclusions are odd – the medlar, introduced to this country by the early settlers, is a fairly decorative tree but not worth the space in the orchard as a fruiting tree. Given that you have to wait until the small fruit are nearly rotten before you eat them, why would you bother when we can grow apples and pears so well? Peanuts are a novelty crop grown in the vegetable garden and limited to the hottest and driest parts of the country. But don’t expect too much of that sort of information in this book. In most cases, the author lacks the experience to know what is important and to sift the information accordingly.
Take kiwifruit as an example. For starters, where can you grow them? According to this book, “The kiwifruit is an appropriate crop wherever citrus fruits, peaches and almonds are successful, though the leaves and flowers are more sensitive to cold than those of orange and peach trees.” Right. So this means kiwifruit need more warmth than citrus? But refer to the entry on almonds and it says: “Almonds happily grow in areas with warm summers and cool winters.” So I guess we are talking Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago? Refer to peaches and it says: “… a long chilling time ensures a good fruiting crop in summer.” Even we became confused about where you can grow kiwifruit successfully but at least we know that it is a warm temperate to subtropical crop.
If you are a novice and you can deduce whether your area is suitable for growing kiwifruit, what you need to know is that it is a rampant vine and if you don’t prune it thoroughly every year, it will swamp your section and choke out everything else very quickly. The book does at least tell you that kiwifruit are not self fertile so you need both male and female though it fails to mention that only the female vine produces any fruit. I will quote the section on pruning verbatim, so readers can assess for themselves whether they would understand how to prune kiwifruit from this information (including the fact that male kiwifruit vines are pruned differently to female ones). “Pruning: After fruiting has finished, the vines should be pruned in late winter, before the spring warmth. Shoots from summer pruning will not be laden with fruit until the following year after dormancy. Male plants will yield more pollen in the spring if new shoots are pinched out to leave five to seven buds during the summer. Winter pruning renews the fruiting arms, enabling plants to fruit well each year.” Got that, have you? Now you know how to prune your kiwifruit?
Another burning question about kiwifruit which most people want to know is where to buy the new yellow cultivars. The fruit is illustrated but it doesn’t tell you that you can’t buy plants. Hort Research and Zespri, who own all the research on new cultivars, keep very tight control of plants and they are not available to the home gardener. But the book does recommend Cocktail Kiwi, an unproven novelty variety – a rampant grower which is distinctly shy on setting fruit and when it does come it is about half the size of your thumb.
Kiwifruit is just one example. The book is full of chapters which are similarly inadequate. But according to Penguin, “this book contains all the essential information you need” and “it will become the reference for gardeners of all skill levels….” We wish that were true. Had this been the first release of the Tui NZ Fruit Garden, Sally Cameron and Penguin Publishers might just have got away with it, marginal though it is. To have a second shot at the same book using the same author, it needed to be very good indeed. It isn’t. We will be keeping to our old tried and true modest volume called The Home Orchard, published by the NZ Department of Agriculture in 1973. It is not glossy or trendy but at least it is by people who knew what they were writing about and it only cost us $2.25 to buy at the time.
The Tui NZ Fruit Garden, by Sally Cameron with Rachel Vogan. (Penguin; ISBN: 978 0 14 356536 9).
For the earlier story on mark one of this book, click on The Tui NZ Fruit Garden – dear oh dear.
1) To say that we were simply amazed to see that Penguin is reissuing the Tui NZ Fruit Garden in May would be an understatement. Same cover, same author. This is the book they withdrew from sale extremely quickly a year ago when the massive problems of plagiarism and inaccuracy were pointed out to them. Presumably the text has been reworked because the early blurb refers to it being in conjunction with a panel of industry experts. It is to be hoped that industry experts include people with extensive personal experience in growing these plants at home throughout the country and not just the commercial producers who want to sell their plants. That aside, it is astonishing that Penguin appear to think that sticking with a discredited and blitheringly ignorant author is just fine. Are we really meant to have such short memories?
2) Alcantarea regina (or is that geniculata?) in flower this week.
3) Garden tasks for this week as autumn officially starts.
4) The third part in our series of step by step compost instructions – this time making cold compost which is the common technique for home gardeners.