Not the usual sort of thing I post about, though I suppose you could make links between activities like gardening and cooking and their positive impact on mental health. It’s definitely something I find good, especially when you first see the shoots coming up out of the ground all tiny and green.
Normally I get my gardening information from the internet, because why wouldn’t you? General information is easy to find and books are expensive. So a book has to have something extra to it to be worthwhile, which I think this one might do. It’s called The Grower’s Cookbook by Dennis Greville & Jill Brewis and as you can probably guess, it’s a book both about gardening AND cooking! For me, this is one of those things that I struggle a little more with – I didn’t grow up experiencing a wide range of vegetables or ways of cooking with them, let alone herbs, so when it comes to figuring out what’s easy and practical to grow, combined with what I know how to use, I get a very short list.
The Grower’s Cookbook has three main sections: vegetables, herbs and fruit. Each plant in the section is listed in alphabetical order, with a good quality picture, summary, how to choose which variety/ies you want to grow, how best to do so, what problems you might have, the best ways to harvest and store, how to prepare, some tips for serving, and 1-2 recipes. They range from dips to salad dressings to full meals, and there’s also advice at the start on making jams and jellies and the like. It places a fair emphasis on companion planting, which means it tells you which plants have what benefits, what they should be planted with, what they should be kept away from, and if any come down with a disease not just what to do about it but whether you need to change what you plant in that soil.
When I have a place where I can have my own garden, I’m thinking it would be really useful to make a card for every plant that looks interesting and colour code them eg green for the ones that are really helpful for surrounding stuff, write down the most important things, and use the book to plot out what I should be growing. Since it says right in each section what sort of things I can make with the various veges and herbs and what else they go with, it should make it quite a lot easier to know what’s going to be the most useful for me, rather than going “Hmm, lamb’s lettuce? I guess I can do something with that… Oh, I like peas, chuck some of those down….” And unlike a regular cookbook, that means also that I’m more likely to find an interesting looking recipe and go, “Yeah, I have that in my garden, I can totally make this.”
The price tag at Whitcoulls was $13, though they’ve just had a big sale on that included 20% off books. (If you’re quick it might still be going on the website.) Being as that’s Whitcoulls, though, it might well be cheaper at other places, online or brick and mortar.