I have written four books about gardening and growing food, from advice for total beginners to making the best use of rooftops and balconies, urban homesteading and beyond.
My latest, Gardening on a Shoestring: 100 Ways to Create a Garden on a Budget, ‘offers a delectable range of ways to create a garden on a budget’, The Independent. From growing vegetables to making new plants for free, a shortcut to garden styles and ingenious container ideas, it’s full of fun, easy projects.
The Rurbanite, Living in the Country Without Leaving the City (Kyle Books) was a blast to write. I met some fantastic people along the way, from beekeepers to community gardeners, foragers to wild flower gurus – all of whom see the green beyond the grey of city life. The world is becoming more urbanised so we might as well make our cities better places to live. An exciting new band of people is doing just that, realising that you don’t have to move to the middle of nowhere to meet nature head on.
There are loads of projects in the book, such as how to put a green roof on your garden shed, or turn your front garden into a wildflower meadow. You’ll learn to identify the easiest edible urban weeds and get some ideas of how to cook them. You’ll get the lowdown on urban beekeeping, henkeeping, even quails and ducks. Whether you want to be a guerilla gardener, an urban homesteader, making your back garden a mini farm, or a city farmer, getting to know your neighbours in a shared food zone, there are plenty of tips and advice. You’ll also meet some rurbanites from Brooklyn to Berlin, all of whom are making their mark on their own city in inspirational ways.
The Edible Balcony is for people who want to grow delicious fruit and vegetables however many storeys up they may be. Here are some newspaper reviews and interviews about the book: You Magazine, The Mail on Sunday did a nice big extract, I gave some advice to a budding balcony gardener for The Sunday Telegraph (there’s a longer version of this interview here), and Emma Townshend interviewed me for The Independent You really don’t need garden soil to eat your own home-grown crops when you can grow lettuce on the wall, tomatoes on your windowsill and carrots in a bucket. Even in the heart of the city you can have your own allotment in the sky – hang herbs from your balcony railings and let cucumbers and squashes clamber through them; and you don’t need to spend money either –recycle bicycle tyres into planters for strawberries or grow runner beans up an old hatstand. From New York to Mumbai to a teeny balcony in Tufnell Park, the book’s full of awe-inspiring edible roofs and balconies and easy growing projects so you can turn your space, however teeny, into an edible Eden in the sky.
My first book, The Girl’s Guide to Growing Your Own – or How to Grow Fruit and Vegetables Without Getting Your Hands Too Dirty (New Holland), is the book I wish I’d had when I first started trying to grow things. I didn’t want to learn how to lay a path, build a compost bin from scratch or recycle my old bathroom sink, I just wanted a gorgeous garden filled with lovely things I could eat. Over five years I turned this little space into a personal paradise, packed with crops and flowers at all times of year. This book is basically what I’ve learnt on the way – minus all my mistakes so you don’t have to make them too. The book has just had a smart revamp in a new US edition called Beginner’s Garden along with a brand new introduction and lots of updated info. If you’re just starting out growing fruit and vegetables, I really recommend this book – though I would say that, wouldn’t I?
Featured in The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Times, The Scotsman on Sunday, House & Garden magazine, The Evening Standard, Woman and Home magazine, Zest magazine, The Wealden Times.