The bulk of this practical guide comprises an exhaustive directory of plants, divided into broad sections covering fruit and vegetables, then subdivided into distinctive groups, such as "bulb vegetables". It includes special sections that deal with herbs and edible flowers. Each entry includes: background information on general characteristics, planting and care; a visual chart listing the most popular varieties and cultivars, with seasonal guides indicating when to plant and when to harvest; a table of plant care with easily-accessed advice on soil, site, watering, feeding, general care, and pests and diseases; and expert tip boxes. The book opens with a practical guide covering useful techniques for the kitchen gardener: assessing your plot for soil quality, drainage, sun and shade; planning a kitchen garden; planting in beds and containers, and creative ideas for companion planting; advice on crop rotation; growing under glass; information on care and maintenance throughout the year; and the best methods for harvesting, storing and collecting seeds.
There are also sections on the problems affecting fruit and vegetables, which include trouble-shooting flow charts to identify the problem and a directory of the most common pests and diseases, and how to treat them. The book closes with a handy calendar of the gardening year.
Lucy Peel is a journalist and writer specialising in design and gardening. For many years she was the associate editor of ES magazine, the colour supplement to the London Evening Standard. Lucy became interested in gardening while working on the Weekend section of The Guardian. Her previous books include 'Collins Family Garden' and 'The Ultimate Sunflower Book'. She is at present renovating an Edwardian garden in the wilds of Wiltshire.