The Edible Garden: How to Have Your Garden and Eat It, Too-Alys Fowler

  • Title: The Edible Garden: How to Have Your Garden and Eat It, Too
  • Author: Alys Fowler
  • Released: 2013-11-26
  • Language:
  • Pages: 260
  • ISBN: 1936740540
  • ISBN13: 978-1936740543
  • ASIN: 1936740540


About the Author Royal Horticultural Society trained Alys Fowler has made fast progress from her studies at The New Botanical Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew to become the head gardener for Gardener’s World, an author and a TV presenter. She also hosts The Edible Garden on BBC 2 where she attempts to avoid shop bought fruit and vegetables and live off her own home-grown produce.

Fowler is a gardener who loves food. She has an urban back garden with two chickens, lots of flowers and plenty of vegetables and is author of several books and writes a weekly column on gardening for the Guardian. Ask her your gardening questions by emailing

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. A Foreword from Alys

Why I garden.

I garden because I am hungry. Or, more precisely, because I have a hunger that can only be satisfied through soil and satiated through fresh growth. I garden because I have to, it is how I define who I am, it is one of the ways I make sense of this world and it is how I pay back my place in it. Over the years I have come to see is not just that I garden, but how I garden that matters.

Making The Edible Garden has been about finding a way to garden that is as gentle as possible upon the world. A garden that will please and feed me and still be a home for all others that visit it. By choosing to grow my vegetables alongside my flowers in a perfectly pleasing muddle that is polyculture, I have found a way that allows the best of all worlds.

The aim is to eat at least one meal a day from the garden throughout the growing season and to have enough living things in the store cupboard to keep the winter bearable.

I’ve gathered some friends together for this journey. Some will tell you about permaculture, others about how to make delicious things with stuff that you grow or find - everyone shares one common belief about how happiness is formed; that real pleasure is something that is created not bought.

This is Alys’s first solo series but she’s been, and still is, a regular presenter on BBC Two Gardeners’ World at 2030 on Friday nights.

From the Introduction

I want it all, the whole far-flung earth and everything in it.

I want streams and hills, rivers and seas, mountains and pastures. I want a whole, happy, earth. And when I'm not being overly ambitious about my environmental desires, I also want a garden with a little bit of everything in it. These two desires are not unconnected: my happy earth will, in part (and no small part), be achieved by my ability to grow a large percentage of my food in my garden, in a way that does not devour resources.

It has never been possible for us all to have gardens big enough for herbaceous borders, rockeries, orchards and vegetable patches. And it is not going to happen now, but too often I hear the same complaint, 'I want to grow vegetables but my garden isn't big enough for a separate patch.' To this I say mix it together and don't worry about the rules that say things need to be segregated. You can have your vegetables, fruit and flowers in a productive garden that is beautiful to look at. It is actually not difficult to marry the joys of growing your own with the beauty of a flower garden.

There are thousands of us out there that are desperate for wholesome, home-grown food, but not at the expense of our city lives. This book is about taking the good life and re-fashioning it on bits of wasteland, in back gardens and on fire escapes. From planting plans to political issues, this book looks at how and why we need to make our gardens more productive. In today's world, growing your own not only makes economic sense, it's a powerful political gesture about our oil-reliant food chain and how we can go about fixing it.

Whether you have a balcony, a courtyard or a sprawling plot this is about saying that your garden pleases you, pleases your palette and pleases the wider environment.

I cannot teach you about your local knowledge, or about local love and loyalty, except to say that in order to know your place, and where you belong, you need to understand that you are part of an ecosystem far bigger than your needs, and that you are responsible for its health and must be a good caretaker.

When you grow your own vegetables, herbs and cut flowers you start to actively contribute to your local economy. It's not just about spending less money, though you will definitely spend less on groceries (and gym memberships), but about becoming more aware. When you work your soil and produce your own food you begin to understand all the limitations that come with natural abundance; you come to realize that you cannot exhaust the soil year on year (or exhaust yourself). You start to want to buy things differently, particularly handmade, crafted, local or loved products that are made by people rather than corporations. When you develop your own skills and self-mastery you start to recognize and admire the skills of others. You will increasingly notice what's going on locally and you'll start to want to buy things differently.

You will always have to buy things in order to grow your own, whether it's the initial set-up cost of bringing in good compost, repairing old tools or buying new plants and seeds, but by growing your own you will start to recover a proportion of economic responsibility that is not about the boom and bust of cheap commodities sold at the highest prices and made at the lowest (and always at a cost to the earth).

You may also quickly become part of a local network. You'll find people who will give you animal manure, or swap plants, and people to water your garden when you're away. You may join community gardens and gardening groups, and generally begin to pay more attention to your community.

Looking after your local surroundings is a pleasing responsibility and brings all sorts of rewards with it. Some of these are obvious--you eat them--but others will only become apparent when you stand back a little.
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