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Close to the Veg by Michael Rand

Close to the Veg by Michael RandThis book of allotment tales is another one to pop in and out of and more about the community and life to be had when you take up an allotment than the actual growing.

This is the story of one man’s obsession with a sixteen by eight yard patch of ground on the edge of a city – a source of delicious fresh produce and much more besides. In a series of entertaining tales, Michael Rand describes how he learned to garden and tried to find answers to the questions faced by all vegetable growers. How do you make your soil more fertile? What are the best crops to sow? Can you ever be completely organic?

In the process, he reveals the often extreme lengths to which he and his fellow plotholders will go to improve their harvest, from carrying bursting bags of horse manure on the Northern Line to using Vicks VapoRub as a slug deterrent. He also describes the many pleasures of growing your own, whether it’s eating the freshest sweetcorn imaginable, cooked on the plots within minutes of harvest; growing luscious tomatoes, such as Costoluto Fiorentino, which are unheard of in the shops; or raising a miniature field of wheat.

This book is currently out of print, but through Amazon you can pick up both new and second hand copies for as little as a penny plus postage.

Amazon Reviews of Close to the Veg:

“There aren’t many gardening books that make you laugh, but this one does – out loud. Mr Rand, who certainly knows his onions, has written a wonderfully warm, witty and wise account of the struggles and dilemmas we veg gardeners face in our quest for a good harvest. It’s packed with useful advice and tips, all based on personal experience and solid, accessible science, such as planting out asparagus so that it lies shallow in the soil like it grows in the wild – rather than deep as most books recommend – and the truth about comfrey’s supposed properties as instant manure. There’s loads of useful info here for all veg growers, and the author’s depiction of life on the plots will strike a chord with all allotment gardeners.”

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