Admittedly this is not a timely review – the book is seven years old at time of writing, and some of the blogs, websites etc. it recommends are now defunct. However, it is still extremely useful, and very often, inspiring.
While Ireland is only a small island, it is home to a wide variety of growing conditions, the majority of which are represented in the book through the personal stories of growers from around the country: from temperate Laois, to an exposed south Dublin hillside, to the wild Atlantic coast of Donegal and Mayo. And it covers a broad range of growing spaces and initiatives: urban balcony and backyard growing, community and school garden growing, market gardening and seed saving.
It is not an instruction manual, but rather a collection of personal experiences of growers of varying experience and expertise – and so reads like a book of short garden stories, making it all the more accessible and engaging. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t feature useful technical information – it’s just woven into the narrative flow of the different stories (and then collated in handy appendices at the end of each chapter).
This includes information on wind exposure and constructing suitable breaks; soil types, fertility and drainage; common obstacles to overcome in establishing a garden; what pests and weeds are the most pernicious in different growing environments; yields from different sized plots and how many people are being fed from them; the best tools to have; who to buy seed from; what varieties are most successful; etc.