Garden whisperers Fabian Capomolla and Mat Pember show you how to set up a veg patch, giving you the skills and know-how to build, maintain and harvest the fruits (and veg) of your labour.
By
April Smallwood

12 Dec 2012 - 2:16 PM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2014 - 1:45 PM

Why buy it?

These days, it seems everyone’s doing it. And you don’t need a whole lot of space or experience – just a really good tutor (or two). In The Little Veg Patch Co: How To Grow Food In Small Spaces, garden whisperers Fabian Capomolla and Mat Pember show you how to set up a veg patch, giving you the skills and know-how to build, maintain and harvest the fruits (and veg) of your labour.

Fundamentals include soil, no-dig gardening, watering, worm farms and composting. Each section features step-by-step photography and friendly instructions that will have you outside and growing your own food faster. The advice is no-nonsense ('plant what you love and will eat"), wise ('be patient with artichokes and you will be rewarded"), and the language colloquial and easy to follow ('when harvesting mushrooms, pull upwards in a twisting motion").

The book’s A-Z of edible plants covers upwards of 40 different varieties, with practical advice on how to plant, soil preparation, pH levels, plus the odd cooking suggestion. The book is also peppered with activities – such as how to build a scarecrow and a golf-club trellis – which will no doubt keep the young ones encouraged.

The book closes with information about common pests and diseases that may trip you up, including fruit flies, caterpillars and possums. What’s great is that organic, rather than chemical-laden, solutions are offered. Are snails or slugs cramping your style? 'Make a spray of equal parts vinegar and water," say the authors, 'and spray the soil around the susceptible plants." Easy.

Usability

This reference book is comprehensive yet concise, incredibly user friendly, and, most surprisingly, fun. All your questions concerning growing your own food are tended to: For example, does your plant need full sun or part shade? What are its ideal companion plants? Will pests or disease be a problem?

Must-cook recipe

Zucchini flower broken eggs

Most surprising section

How to grow beans in a bean can.

Garden wisdom

Orange rind contains an oil that infuses and enhances dishes. It’s also a natural repellent of slugs and snails and can be used to fight pests organically. Simply scatter twisted orange rinds through the affected areas of your garden bed.

Ideal for

Wholefood enthusiasts; farmers’ market junkies; the environmentally conscious; big and little kids. Oh, and anyone sick of overpriced, limp, sad-looking lettuce found in supermarkets.

The Little Veg Patch Co: How To Grow Food In Small Spaces, Fabian Capomolla and Mat Pember, (Plum/Pan MacMillan, $45, pbk).