1. A couple of people have asked for this to return. Here’s my latest Allotment Planner review.
“Hit google for better tips, it cold have been so much more, but seems to be a vanity publishing exercise.”
better is John Harrison @allotmentjohn **** The Allotment Planner by @mattapple1 | Huge thanks to @allotmentjohn for the review | allotment-garden.org/store/books/bo… pic.twitter.com/23zsk385rH
2. Anyway the book has reprinted and is selling v well thanks. Particularly in comparison to the market. Latest Bookseller mag shows:
Gardening book sales were £5.6m in 2013, down five per cent on 2012 and 62 per cent on 2003, when sales topped £14.5m.
Volume (-18 per cent) and value (-16 per cent) sales dropped in the first quarter of 2014.
Dr Hessayon is doing best with his sales doubling to 35,000 in Q1 2014 compared to 17,000 in Q1 2013. He retired last year, saying to me Google was influencing where gardeners got their tips.
3. Was at Harrogate Flower Show recently. The latest Dalesman lists top 75 Yorkshire icons. Alan Titchmarsh, who apparently had £500 in the envelope he donated to Perennial earlier this year, says his life has been ‘enriched’ by Alan Bennett, who is no.7. Yorkshire pudding is no.1. I’d have Geoffrey Boycott higher, though I’m glad Peter Sutcliffe didn’t make the cut. Fountains Abbey, N. Yorks Moors, Brontes, Dales, York Minster, Wensleydale cheese, Whitby Abbey and Yorks tea make up top 10. Spoke to Titch at recent Waitrose press launch about religion, Chelsea and novels. Asked him if people asked him gardening questions at his book signings. He said no and his novels sold very well thanks.
4. Benny from BBC3′s Invasion of the Job Snatchers has been retweeting me. IOFTS is a great show and features Stewarts Gardenlands in Christchurch. Employers take on disadvantaged unemployed youth and try and train them up. The youth were staying in Greg Howe’s house in Southbourne near my in-laws. Talking of young people, I was at YoungHort event at Wisley recently, trying to avoid trying to be a cool old person (some did this by swearing at the kids for effect) trying to impress the kids, who would probably admit they aren’t generally that cool. Pictured above is my, Dennis Espley and Jim Gardiner at young hort of the year heats at Wisley doing a quiz. We were second.
5. Garden book seller Mike Park has done his last RHS show. Saw him at the RHS awards recently where I sat with Brum council and John Sales. Also went to RHS Cardiff Flower Show. AFT won best in show. I couldn’t really find any RHS staff to talk to. At Harrogate ex RHS shows guy Bob Sweet was judging. He’s doing overseas shows.
6. Robert Downey jr likes Petersham Nurseries. Tim Booth from James once came into my parents’ shop. Who is your more famous customer? Joan Collins goes to Chelsea Gardener, for example.
7. Some stories that helped hort. Allotments. Being sold off.
Also fence shortage, British cut flowers that aren’t.
Also, gardens closing cos of bad weather more often. Cos this was in The Times which is gated, yr people who only know what’s going on via twitter didn’t see this.
8. Men top garden jobs weed, mow, dig, weedkiller. Women-chose plants, water, dead head, plant, trim (Hozelock survey)
9. I did a triathlon recently where I bumped into Guardian’s Kate Carter, who I last saw at a Leuchuza press event in Soho. It was the Womble triathlon in Wimbledon I asked KC if she was writing about it, which always makes editors run a mile cos they think you’re ‘pitching.’ I nearly drowned swimming 14 lengths of Kings College pool. But I caught up a few later. KC beat me.
10. Talking of Soho and Wimbledon, there was a fruit fly launch there recently. The Grocer says they will stop strawberries being available at Wimbledon. They won’t.
11. QVC has sold its 500,000th Flower Power pack.
12. Peter Seabrook is going to have a 50th year in industry bash. I went to his 30th Sun party, which had some famous guests such as Rebecca Brooks. Don’t know if she’ll be at the 50th. Seab reminds me of Richie Benaud.
13. Latest RHS ambassador is the charmless Nick Knowles. A list is doing the rounds of who the RHS might pick next and includes unlikely figures such as Edna Everage, Lily Savage etc. Do you have any amusing additions?
14. Apparently there was a C4 TV show called Fruity Stories in 1996 featuring David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd, the ex Cumberland cricketer.
15. LSL Property Press Awards 2014
The winners of the LSL Property Press Awards 2014 have been announced as follows:
Garden Writer of the Year
Winner: Bunny Guinness, The Sunday Telegraph, Life
Silver: Pattie Barron, Freelance Journalist
Bronze: Caroline Donald, The Sunday Times
16. I was at the Edible Garden Show recently doing a Q&A on stage sandwiched between James Wong (who said he was glad it wasn’t interviewing him at an event recently which I’ll take in a Paxman way) and Christine Walkden. Among guests I roped in were Craig Sams. Big Allotment Challenge people turned up to watch. Also saw Green and Black/Carbon Gold founder CS at Gardening Against the Odds at Syon Park recently. He’s doing QVC. Christopher Woodward from Garden Museum told me at the event my swimming times were very slow.
17. Martyn Cox in Mail mentions 24/11/83 on TOTP when he saw The Smiths with their gladioli. Good reference.
18. Beth Chatto says her fave flower is a snowdrop
19. Kew is cutting costs by making 125 back office, scientific and other staff redundant. One way to cut staff is by using a new IT system. It’s the Agresso system, we use at Haymarket. It’s not very good IMHO.
20. BBC types are turning up in the oddest places in the north after Beeb’s move to Salford. Saw the One Show’s Alex Riley who has moved to West Kirby. Also saw Kevin Pietersen with Jess from Hearsay and their kid on Wimbledon Common.
21. At my kids school, the school allotment has now been incorporated into the school curriculum and enriches the children’s learning environment. We made some raised beds on the open day. Maybe I should do a kids’ garden book, now I know all about publishing.
22. Big Allotment Challenge. Who is producer and what is venue for this please? Are presenters the same as series one? Why don’t production co/current venue know there is a second series?
We can’t confirm a second series…
I can tell you the venue, producers and presenters are the same
There is second series despite falling figures for series one. Maybe my predictions and promotions didn’t help.
23. Part of Grubby Gardeners Nude garden day is (pictured here with a giant nipple) skinnyjeansgardeners . “We collaborate and create awesomeness with our homies from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Suffolk based farmer Jimmy Doherty and Thompson & Morgan to name but a few.”
24. I’ve sent a £30 cheque to a Thinkinggardens ‘supper’ address for an event just before Chelsea in Soho. I’d been invited but found out it was because someone said I wanted to go. Also going to Fera – Simon Rogan’s new resto at Claridges. Note to self. Must clean shoes (for Fera not the other thing).
25. Is gardening religious? # unpublished
It’s Easter and gardeners are in horticulture heaven. A long spring weekend to get the garden sorted stretches ahead.
Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar.
So can gardening and religion marry during this upcoming weekend?
Alan Titchmarsh has revealed that his Christian faith is the reason he gardens.
“I often use the word missionary in terms of missionary zeal trying to convert people who garden to realise they’re at the sharp end of conservation and landscape management and caring fro the environment. It’s not just sowing and weeding. It’s about that dreadful word sustainability.
“It is a passion of mine. It’s given me so much stimulation and solace. Look what you can do, not just for you. For me it’s a personal thing. Yes, I have a faith but it’s not something I ram down people’s throats. What it does for me is it keeps me in touch with reality and gardening is reality. My garden is the real world where things flower and are beautiful. There’s all the doom and gloom on the news and it’s of our own making but it’s not necessarily real life. I look out of the window and see an oak still growing and that’s the real world.
“I’m not a Pollyanna. I’m as realistic as the next man but the ethos of gardening is the purity of purpose.
“To create a garden for me is the most satisfying of pursuits. Spiritually it’s the best thing going. Education, health and law and order the three things the Government goes on about but letting off steam open spaces defers anger and has a positive impact on law and order.”
Horticultural consultant and lay preacher John Adlam says the oldest profession is not what you think it is. The oldest profession is gardening – Adam was a gardener. He adds that Easter is all about a new start, new beginnings and resurrection.
The Bible helps religious gardeners feel good about their hobby.
“Easter is time for seed sowing. A seed is put into the ground before it will germinate and become a delightful bloom (John 12-24). Jesus died to cancel the sin of mankind and it was His resurrection that gave Him the power to do that. Jesus is now bringing new life, colour and joy to people, only because He died and rose again.”
Garden centre inspector Roger Crookes adds to the theme. He says: “We are helping folks to fulfil two of the first ‘commandments’ that appears in Genesis – long before the famous 10 commandments appeared. That is: to look after the planet, and to look after the garden/cultivate the soil.
“Man has always had an affinity with plants and gardening and cultivation. So many of the stories and Parables of the Bible involve plants) – no other creature has developed that skill. We are helping people to be ‘fully human’ by encouraging them to grow plants.”
Green shoots of recovery –post flood, post recession, post winter – are in the air at this time of the year.
What’s more, the Easter Egg hunt has a Biblical reference too: “Seek and you will find.” (Matthew 7 – 7).
26. Book review (*unpublished).
Dr DG Hessayon
The New Vegetable & Herb Expert
£8.99 Expert Books
Dr Hessayon has written his last book, an updated edition of his 6.1 million-selling Veg & Herb guide. At 86, the author of more than 50 gardening ‘Expert’ guides, is retiring.
He has sold 54m gardening books. More than two-thirds of people who own a gardening book own an ‘Expert’.
Many garden centres now only stock Hessayon’s books (other than remainders).
While this final book holds few surprises, Hessayon’s impact on garden writing will live on.
He has played the media pretty well over the last 55 years.
The Essex-based former PBI chief scientist doesn’t really give interviews and appears quite reclusive.
He’s the (Lake District guide author) Alfred Wainwright of gardening books, with his year’s of low public profile, idiosyncratic old-fashioned book design, and a career of curmudgeonly, single-minded determination to cover a subject comprehensively.
Hessayon said on his retirement that Google information meant garden books sales were lower than they once had been. If you want to know something, you look it up on the internet. This has fundamentally changed the whole non-fiction publishing industry, not just gardening books.
For instance, secondhand monographs of a single plant genus, once a mainstay of the market, now even have little secondhand value, and new editions are much less often published.
What is published has to have something you can’t Google – or it doesn’t sell.
Another telling tale was the reaction to news stories of Hessayon’s retirement late in 2013. It was in a speech at the Garden Media Guild awards Hessayon hinted he had written his last guide. Several famous garden writers tweeted that Hessayon’s speech was not exactly what was reported in the newspapers. What this shows is famous garden writers were too busy thinking about their next tweet to ask Hessayon a bit more about whether he was hanging up his pen. And that shows how garden writing has changed since Hessayon’s debut in 1959 – millions of words of instant uninformed reaction rather than solid, boring old research is what gets most attention these days.
Here are Food Tank’s 16 spring “must reads” for your bookshelf (in alphabetical order).
Allotment Planner by Matthew Appleby. Revolutionary guide to post-allotment gardening.
Blessing the Hand that Feeds Us: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us About Food, Community, and Our Place on Earthby Vicki Robin
Bestselling author Vicki Robin pledges to eat only food sourced from within a ten-mile radius of her home on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Washington for a whole month. This challenging diet is eye opening in more ways than she originally thought, exposing society’s dependence on high sugar and high fat foods and revealing major faults in the food industry. But this is a story of hope—Robin discovers a new sense of community as she befriends neighboring farmers and receives support in her personal challenge.
Browsing Nature’s Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs by Wendy Brown and Eric Brown
This is the story of one American suburban family’s quest to close the gap between what they can provide for their family and what a family actually needs to survive. Wendy and Eric Brown spend a year integrating foraged, wild foods into their family’s everyday meals. It’s an inspiring read on self-reliance and one family’s determination to find true harmony with nature.
Chicken Poop for the Soul: Backyard Adventures by Teri Metcalf
Chicken Poop for the Soul is a how-to-guide on raising backyard chickens. This book was written by author, Metcalf, and her husband, after several years of observing their own chicken’s behavior. And whether you’re raising your own eggs or chicken meat, this is a book that explores how humans connect with the animals they raise.
Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet by Sarah Elton
This is an investigative book about very real threats to the food system. Elton explores the world to tell the stories of people who are deeply invested in food—and sustainability. She travels from the mountains of southern France to vacant plots in Detroit, telling hopeful stories while also recommending a plan to get the food system back on track.
Diversifying Food and Diets: Improving Agricultural Biodiversity to Improve Nutrition and Health by Jessica Fanzo, Danny Hunter, Teresa Borelli, and Frederico Mattei
This book, published by Bioversity International, is a reminder of the infinite variety of food species which exist, but are often under-utilized or forgotten. The authors highlight the importance of agricultural biodiversity and diversifying diets for improved health and nutritional value. This is a good guide for food policy makers and farmers alike, helping identify best practices, gaps in research and investment, and opportunities in preserving biodiversity.
Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson
Robinson wonderfully blends history and cooking instructions into a book that reveals the nutritional history of fruits and vegetables. According to Robinson, the most nutrient-dense option is to “eat on the wild side,” and she explains how to choose fruits and vegetables that most resemble their wild ancestors.
Food: an Atlas by Darin Jensen and Molly Roy
This atlas is a collection of maps that examine food across broad geographical locations, scales, and issues. The editors use infographics, poster art, cartography, and other creative platforms to illuminate complicated issues and create a deeper understanding for readers.
Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution by Jennifer Cockrall-King
The future of farming exists in cities, according to Cockrall-King. This book explores what people in cities all over the world are doing to successfully deal with hunger and poverty, taking food security into their own hands.
The Grazing Revolution: A Radical Plan to Save the Earth by Allan Savory
In this TED book, Savory explains the causes of “desertification” and presents a solution that’s radical yet simple—through livestock management. Using his personal story of discovery, Savory chronicles the process of wasteland to robust ecosystem, putting to rest some common misconceptions.
Growing A Garden City by Jeremy Smith
Fifteen people—and a class of first graders—give first-hand accounts of how farms, gardens, and local food are changing their lives. The book also has a “how-it-works” section on community gardens, student farms, farm work therapy, and more than 80 full color photographs of diverse local food in different communities.
The Farm as Ecosystem by Jerry Brunetti
Brunetti, a natural product formulator and farm consultant, shares his knowledge of farm dynamics including the geology, biology, and diversity of life on the farm. This book is filled with stories and science, but also real world advice.
The History of Aquaculture by Colin Nash
The fastest growing segment of agriculture- aquaculture, was unheard of until recently, and includes cultivating plants and fish for food. This book traces the history of fish farming from its ancient roots to its more modern uses today.
The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business by Christopher Leonard
Leonard, a former agribusiness reporter, critically assesses the meat industry through the practices of Tyson Foods, showing how the company has eliminated free market competition. And the story details how factory farming has changed small-town life for the worse in Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and other states across the U.S.
The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet by Kristin Ohlson
Eighty percent of the carbon from the world’s soil has been lost, according to Ohlson. She makes a passionate case for “our great green hope,” a way to heal the land, sequester carbon, and potentially reverse global warming.
Grow This! A Garden Expert’s Guide to Choosing the Best Vegetables, Flowers, and Seeds So You’re Never Disappointed Again by Derek Fell
All gardeners want to maximize their yields, providing more return on their time and money, and this book provide experts advice on the top performing plants for your garden. Fell has planted hundreds of varieties and guided the best of the best in gardening. This book is based on his first hand experience with the winners and losers of gardening.
1,000 Days Project by Roger Thurow COMING SOON!
Thurow’s next book is a story of the first 1,000 days of pregnancy and the importance of good nutrition and health care from the beginning of the mother’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday. This time period is crucial to development, preventing malnutrition, and preventing lifelong negative impacts on the child.
Also in case you missed it, please check out our previous book lists: 13 Books on the Food System that could Save the Environment, 13 Books about Food for Summer Reading, 15 Books For Future Foodies, and Food for Thought: Food Tank’s Fall Reading List.
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