Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Grow Your food for Free , Well almost" By Dave Hamilton: review

I have been lucky enough to be offered an opportunity to review copy of "Grow Your food for Free , Well almost- great money Saving Ideas for your Garden" By Dave Hamilton. Those not familiar with Dave's work need to acquaint yourself forthwith. I first encountered him through his website Selfsufficient-ish which has lots of interesting articles and the most practical, down to earth good humoured, no nonsense bunch of people I have ever encountered using the forum. I have learned an awful lot from the forum and glean much inspiration from it and I am a big fan of Dave's previous book "the Self Sufficient-ish Bible" which he wrote with his brother Andy (also of the fame). It sits snugly next to my copy of Alys Fowler's Thrifty Gardener and I like to think they take tea together when I am sleeping...back to Dave's book!  The title pretty much lays it out there as to what it is all about- it is a guide to saving money whilst growing your own food!

There is a danger when releasing a book such as "Grow Your Food for Free" that a lot of the subject matter will be a rehash of previous work and although there are similarities in the layout and illustrative style as well as subject matter there is a definite "Dave-ishness" which shines through, the book is written in a conversational, personable style and Dave's personality is present in all of his splendid ideas which manage successfully to avoid cloning the "Bible". Charming illustrations by Ellie Mains, many showing useful practical things such as how to dismantle pallets and how to build insect hotels as well as being lovely decorations, are a good foil for the photographs and build on the friendly manner throughout the book .

When reading gardening books written by Northern hemisphere authors there is often a confusement (my own word, it seems like everyone has their own words these days) in my head as I try to switch it all around in my brain for us Australians and then just go onto Selfsufficientish forum and ask someone to figure it out for me. I didn't feel at all confused by "Grow your Food for Free..." as the advice is set out in seasons and I find it directly applicable to our Tasmanian seasons (it might not be so useful for those in far North Queensland or NT but what do you expect living all the way up there with no proper seasons?). Here in Tasmania we have many of the same wild food and weeds about the place as in the UK so I found much wisdom regarding the use of weeds and foraging which I plan to put into action very shortly if I can get past all our ripe blackberries!

Making paths, ponds, cloches and raised beds are all covered and very clear, foraging, working with the plot you have, recycling, what not to use in the garden and just about everything you might find helpful is covered, the book is not full of fluffy fillers but good quality practical advice without being at all dry.

The physical feel of the book is good too, whilst the Selfsufficient-ish Bible is a weighty (if somewhat floppy- I have the paperback) tome, a copy of "Grow Your Food for Free.." can be easily carted around with you and is easy to flick through time and time again (and it is printed on recycled paper using vegetable inks).

 All in all anyone who is interested in a self sufficient lifestyle in an urban setting and wants to grow food for minimal cost and enjoys being creative (which I know is all of my readers and anyone whose blog I read also!) would do well to have a copy of this lovely and useful book on their shelf, the tips contained within would more than offset the purchase price!

"Grow your Food for Free, Well Almost" is printed by Greenbooks UK (on recycled paper using vegetable inks) available through many good book shops in Australia.


  1. Hello! I have awarded you a versatile blogger award!