book review

Book Review: Grow Your Food for Free (Well Almost) by Dave Hamilton

Book and product reviews are not things that I’ve given much thought to doing on Real Men Sow, but every so often I read or use something great and I think ‘you know, I really must tell people about that’.

One such example is Dave Hamilton’s new book, Grow Your Food for Free (Well, Almost). Dave is the co-founder of the brilliant Self-Sufficient-ish, a website dedicated to urban self-sufficiency. Together with his twin brother, Andy, Dave has also authored the Self-Sufficient-ish Bible: An Eco Living Guide for the 21st Century.

Reading Grow Your Own Food…, the first thing that strikes you is that Dave is a nice bloke and the sort of person you’d like to have a beer with. He writes affably and intelligently, offering interesting opinions along the way. As you’d expect from a man who wrote an eco living guide, the book has a pro-environmental slant, but Dave doesn’t preach and delivers this in a friendly manner. Important messages are not lost, however – he writes powerfully and persuasively against the use of peat, for example.

Dave’s sense of humour is also prevalent throughout, comparing a ladybird’s sex life to that of any touring rock musician, as well as sharing his optimum-number-of-paces-from-an-ice-cream-van theory for finding lolly sticks to make into money-saving seed markers.

However, beneath the easy-going prose lies a huge amount of helpful and practical advice. There are information-packed sections on planning, soil, seeds, feeding plants, pests, growing and propagating, harvesting, storing, and composting, all set within easy to follow seasonal sections.

Good photographs and lively, smart illustrations also help to really bring the book to life.

As the title suggests, there is also a hefty amount of thrift and ingenuity. From origami harvesting bags and mini polytunnels to green roofs and pallet sheds, there are ideas big and small for both the practically challenged and DIY masters.

My personal favourite is the chicken tractor, a moveable pen that encourages chickens to eat the weeds and manure the ground for you.

There is so much useful, informative info in this book that it would be a valuable resource to gardening beginners and experts alike. Grow Your Own Food… is fun, knowledgeable and readable, and thus falls squarely into the ‘part-time shelfer’ category: you’ll pass as much time thumbing through as the book will spend on the shelf.

Which of course, is just how a gardening book should be.

Follow Dave on Twitter @growurfood4free, and read his blog at Self Sufficient-ish.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Grow Your Food for Free (Well Almost) by Dave Hamilton”

  1. I have an allotment in northwood kirkby nr liverpool and it is an community allotment i have an plot for veg and a flower garden with two ponds in it one of the ponds as been in the gardenersworld mag and we have had charley dimmock at the allotment with day brake it is good for the area i had to give my job up and retire thrugh ill helth and i love gardening i try to grow plants they say you carnt grow there i am there five days a week weekends are for the family i am planing for next spring now lots to do commposting planting and alot more any way carnt waight till next spring better plans and alot more plants

    1. Hi Joseph, thanks for the comment.

      Glad you’re enjoying your plot. Love the pond idea, but they’re not allowed at our allotments.

      Do a google for Mark Diacono if you’re interested in growing plants that don’t grow here. He’ written some great stuff.

    1. Thanks Helen, enjoyed writing the review. Made a change.

      I found the book different from other gardening manual type ones. It was quirkier, which set it apart for me.

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