Sarah Raven’s book, A Year in the Edible Garden, shows how to have a beautiful garden and a bounty of delicious, fresh, edibles all at the same time. She gives month-by month suggestions for growing and harvesting vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers ( some non edible flowers too), so that gardeners can eat fresh produce throughout the year. Her goal is to get the maximum amount of the healthiest, tastiest, freshest produce out of every part of the garden by carefully selecting the crops she grows and using only organic and no-dig methods.

Raven adopts a two season system when planning her garden: October to April, and May to September. The crops that she chooses must be productive but require minimal care and generally germinate reliably and progress quickly to harvestable size. She divides crops into four categories: 1. Big Producers such as leafy greens, peppers and eggplant, 2. Easy Edibles such as asparagus, beets and squash 3. Flavor First such as tomatoes, a crop with flavor that can not be duplicated by commercial growers 4. Unbuyables such as multicolored beets and 5. The Lookers such as ‘Redbor’ kale and ‘Northern Lights’ leeks that are ornamental as well as edible. Selecting from these 5 groups, Raven plans a garden that allows her to harvest some fresh edibles every month.

Most of the book is devoted to a month by month guide discussing the chosen crops, recommending the most desirable cultivars, and describing the chores from planting to harvesting that are needed for success. Appropriate flowering plants are included in the guide especially when they are attractive to pollinators or used as companion plantings to ward off insects from crop plant. Photographs and drawings complement the text and make working in the grayness of winter look appealing.

Raven presents an interesting concept of year-round edible gardening drawing on her many years of experience at Perch Hill, her substantial property in the countryside of England. Although the broad concepts she present may be applicable to some areas of the US I doubt the details would be useful as the growing conditions are so different and few people have the large amount of land that make’s Raven’s plan so successful. Some of the cultivars Raven recommends might be found online, but many substitutions would probably have to be found. With those reservations, I can recommend this book to experienced gardeners who can use what is appropriate and find substitutes for what is not.

To buy A Year in the Edible Garden from Amazon, click here.

By Karen