So as I look out of the window, I see grey, snow-threatening skies. The wind has decided it wants to blow so strongly it feels reminiscent of the opening scene in the Wizard of Oz. Definitely not the type of weather that motivates me to dust off the old boots and get out into the garden.
However, the life of a garden smallholder isn’t spent purely outside being at one with nature. Some time needs to be spent indoors (thankfully at this time of year) planning what you are going to do in the coming year. This is also a great time to prioritise some of those plot improvements, that need a little bit of DIY know-how, or effort beyond time in the soil.
With this in mind, I was excited to see what Build A Better Vegetable Garden by Joyce and Ben Russell could offer in terms of inspiration and guidance. The sub-title of the book demonstrates the context with the text 30 DIY Projects to Improve Your Harvest.
Whilst the book may not offer anything in terms of innovation for us in our garden, it does offer some great tips on how to put together projects that are the bread and butter of any smallholding. The way the tasks are described and presented are simple to follow and provide good steps on how to make the projects work from start to finish. The photos also show, in a visual way, how the projects should develop to help those more likely to follow images than text (me included).
If you have no DIY skills and lack the tools that you may find in any DIY enthusiasts toolbox, some of these projects could be beyond you. But don’t be put off, if you’re willing to invest in the tools and time, you could pick up some new skills.
What I love about the book is that it doesn’t only look at the functional aspects of a growing garden, such as vegetable beds or planters, it also adds some neat aesthetic ideas. The one that stood out for me was how to make a scarecrow. The images showing the author Joyce Russell looking at her League Of Gentleman style scarecrow head made me laugh, but the end result is a scarecrow that not only looks good but also does the job.
Other projects, such as the drying cabinet, feel quite ambitious for the average garden smallholder, but it could be a target for those amongst us that fancy a challenge.
Overall I think the book is presented very well. The steps on each project are easy to follow and the images really help. The variation in complexity demonstrates a good step-up for most smallholders, which should mean, it’s not a read once reference.
I think the book is definitely worth a look and I enjoyed reading it. Even the fact that it offered validation of what we had already done and backed-up some of our future plans is encouraging. But take a look for yourself and let us know what you think.
Build A Better Vegetable Garden published by Frances Lincoln. Available to purchase from Amazon.