Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Book Review: 'Kitchen Garden Estate', National Trust, £15


For several years now, the grow your own movement has continued to gain substantial sway, with people seeking a return to wholesome, natural and sustainable food production, as well as a simpler way of life.

There are many relevant gardening books available to the amateur gardener, but it can often be difficult to find the right book, whether you're looking for practical advice or are simply eager to find out more about techniques and the cultural history of gardening and food production.

The National Trust has recently released a fantastic new book entitled 'Kitchen Garden Estate' by Helene Gammack, in which traditional country-house techniques for the modern gardener or smallholder are explored.  And they kindly sent me a copy to have a look at.

I'm a huge advocate of the National Trust and in typical fashion, this book is of an extremely high standard, exploring a range of gardening techniques employed by country estates prior to the industrial revolution, when of course large estates had to be self-sufficient and provide all of their own produce, from meat and game to fruit, vegetables, milk and much more besides.

Whilst the average reader (myself included) is not likely to have an orchard, vineyard, lakes and dairy cattle, the techniques used in days of old are fascinating and absorbing to read about.  As one would expect from a National Trust book, the tome is littered with beautiful pictures, historical illustrations and diagrams, ensuring that time-honoured gardening techniques are clearly explained and made relevant to the modern-day gardener.

The first few chapters really explore the history of fruit and vegetables, sharing advice, recipes and tips that have been passed down over hundreds of years and these first few chapters really do offer practical advice, from companion planting guides to salad garden layouts.

In summary, Kitchen Garden Estate is a wonderful and absorbing book, combining the perfect mix of practical advice, historical intrigue and beautiful pictures.  The book is available to purchase directly from the National Trust website for a very acceptable price of £15 and makes a wonderful addition to your garden book collection, or a perfect present.

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