The Cottage Smallholder

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The Veggie Grower’s Bible by Lorraine Burn: a review


Photo: The Veggie Grower's Bible

Photo: The Veggie Grower's Bible

One of the many pleasures of writing this blog is that sometimes I’m sent a cookery or gardening book to review. This feeds my reading habit and introduces me to masses of new ideas. I don’t review every book I am sent as I prefer to write about the books that I have particularly enjoyed.

I was intrigued when Lorraine Burn emailed me about her book. I checked out her website. She writes
“Borne of frustration, the many books I read all had lots and lots of beautiful pictures but  never told me everything I needed for one particular plant and how I too could grow with such stunning results.  The old faithfuls, which do give you all the information you need took a long time to read and were very heavy!  The scraps of paper which I wrote to take with me had always disappeared by the time I got there! 
So, this book was designed to accompany me down on my allotment, in my pocket, to remind me just how far apart those seedlings needed to be – at a quick glance!”

As you know I’ve trodden mud into our carpets many a time when I come creeping into the cottage for plant spacing guides etc. Even though I have got the Sloppas now what I really needed was a little book of on the spot advice that would give me quick answers and save me trekking back to the cottage. Lorraine’s book sounded promising.

The Veggie Grower’s Bible is small enough to be slipped in a pocket for instant reference on an allotment or in the kitchen garden. There is much more to this book than sowing calendars and plant spacing. Twenty years of allotment growing and experience have been poured into its 167 pages. There is information and advice on soil and fertilising, crop rotation (with plans) and companion planting. There’s a section for pests and diseases and even a chart of the vitamin content of vegetables.

Lorraine gives detailed information on growing over fifty different vegetables. This includes ease of growing, watering, particular pests and diseases, preferred site, soil preparation, spacing, plant to plate time, sowing and harvesting. I particularly enjoyed her tips for each vegetable. She uses a very clever system of symbols so that information can be noted at a glance.

A misprint in the book made me chuckle – in the section that deals with herbs to attract pollinators and repel unwanted insect visitors, brassicas has been put in the wrong box. So it reads plant mint to attract brassicas – I imagined hundreds of Brussels sprouts plants drifting from the sky into the kitchen garden!

Incidentally I found the herbal companion planting section fascinating and will definitely be trying it out this year. Apparently mint repels Carrot fly, Flea beetle, Cabbage fly, aphids and ants. I’ve also read somewhere else that mint repels mice and rats – so some planted amongst the peas might be an idea this year.

The Veggie Grower’s bible is a comprehensive book. The more I handle it the more I like it. I kept on finding extra tips and information and with this in my pocket I will save loads of time and hopefully avoid blunders in the kitchen garden. All but the most experienced of vegetable gardeners would find this guide extremely useful.

You can buy a copy of Lorraine’s book direct from the homepage of her website  At £5.99 I reckon that it’s a real bargain.

  Leave a reply


  1. What a wonderful little book just managed to buy one more suppliers should be selling. Its one of the most useful items and well spent money I have laid out on in many a year. Keep writing Lorraine Burn we are all looking forward to your next edition Yvonne

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Suky

    I’m really lucky as I’m sent quite a few books. Like you I want to keep them to hand as reference books.

    If I can get it to grow (see next post) I will be careful where I plant it!

    Hi Dozenoaks


    Hi Smallpines

    This is a great little book that I know will be much used.

    Hi Kate

    Thanks for the tips.

    Hi Bib

    Interesting that it repels ticks! Good luck with the guinea fowl – we found ours were just too noisy in the end.

    Hi Paula

    I’m amazed that with these gardening punishments we weren’t put off gardening for life!

    Hi Barbara

    I do hope that your mint survived the winter. This year I’m determined to grow mint.

  3. Barbara

    In my grandmother’s garden mint had escaped into the lawn. It was kept in check by mowing, but I remember the wonderful smell when I ran barefoot across the grass.
    I now have 8, if they survived the winter, different types of mint, all grown in pots sunk in the ground.

  4. I guess you know about mint now 🙂

  5. Good to know about this- a pocket-sized book would be useful.

    Mint is incredibly invasive, so plant in pots. I spent many a summer at my grandmother’s house weeding mint and canna lilies out of her garden as punishment for some infraction or other (I was always in trouble). Mint is a real pill.

  6. Ditto everyone else’s comment on restraining mint; on my old allotment I used an ancient and very unsightly plastic window box half sunk into the ground. We will be growing LOTS of mint this year as we’ve read that it repels ticks, and after almost losing OllieDog to tick fever last year, this year we’ll be trying all sorts of deterents. Including, once we get to our own place, guinea fowl which are apparently The Terminator as far as ticks go.

  7. KateUK

    Plant your mint in old buckets- put holes in the very bottom for drainage,plant mint a few inches below the level of the top of the bucket, then put bucket in with a nice amount above soil level to act as a mint escape barrier.If you keep the bucket about half/three quarters buried the mint won’t get in amongst your veg!

  8. Small Pines

    Thanks so much for the recommend on that book. I’ve been looking for something a bit more manageable. I adore my “Storey’s Basic Country Skills,” and it has wonderful tables and charts, but it is a gigantic book. Hardly the sort of thing I can carry around. I had looked around our little library for something, finding that most of the section leaned towards cutting gardens. Thanks again!

  9. dozenoaks

    I was about to say exactly the same thing as Suky – don’t do it!!

  10. Looks an interesting book. Nigel just groans when he sees a new book, I love books but a library is no good ‘cos I just want to keep them all 🙂
    As far as companion herbs go, please, please, please don’t plant mint ‘in’ with anything. In pots – fine but in the ground it is rampant and you will find it everywhere, very quickly and you can’t get rid of it.

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