I have been growing the odd bit of fruit and veg for the past couple of years now. I'm not overly successful but then seeing as I live in a flat and don't have a garden i'm probably not doing all that bad. I have recently adopted a guerilla growing method and have sown carrots and leeks in the communal grounds of the block I live in. Secretly scattered amongst the flowers of the ground floor planters, I go on stealth missions late in the Summer to unearth my carrots and courgettes. Perhaps it's not quite the stealth mission I've just been banging on about. For the record I don't don a balaclava and a rope system akin to mission impossible. I'm just a food geek rummaging in Flat 3's flower beds. Luckily for me there are quite a few old people in my block and I don't have much of my crop nicked, which was my main concern when I first started. My veg growing has often been ill timed, sprouting my tomato plants too early or forgetting the cabbages and losing them to pests. I've meant to get a book on the subject to help me plan my yearly growing rota, but have always been side-tracked and forgotten.
There are many 'grow your own' books out there and over the past few years allotments have seen a revival of sorts. Nowadays your average allotment is more likely to be maintained by a young twenty-something than a pensioner as I remember when I was five or six. The only people I knew who had an allotment were my granddad and his pals. New Urban Farmer caught my attention, not just because Celia's allotment has an abandoned skip in the middle of it. Although I have always preferred recycled tin cans for plant pots than the lifestyle porn of perfectly maintained vegetable patches complete with designer sleepers and raised beds as often seen on television. This book takes quite a laid-back approach to vegetable growing. It lets you know which jobs need doing each month without sounding like your old maths teacher and rewards your hard work with seasonal recipes at the end of each month. Cecilia Brooks Brown gives the reader an insight into some of the people she's met since obtaining her allotment from the council. Taking a more bodge-it approach, with notes on raiding skips and foraging for materials for creative construction back on the allotment, New Urban Farmer is anything but pretentious or preachy. I don't have an allotment and to be honest I don't want the responsibility of one, but even for a guerilla growing young amateur with a few plants on the balcony, the book has come in handy already.
Lost in the Larder has a new copy of New Urban Farmer to give away. To enter simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name. The winner will be drawn at random on Saturday 1st May 2010 and will be contacted shortly after to arrange delivery.
For more from Celia Brooks Brown and to read her blog visit www.celiabrooksbrown.com