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Zero-Waste Gardening by Ben Raskin – Book Review

A beautifully illustrated, plot-to-plate guide aimed at cutting waste throughout the growing cycle, from sowing seed to storing and eating the produce. Reviewer Rosanna Morris is a freelance writer.

by Ben Raskin
Frances Lincoln, £14.99
ISBN 978-0711262331

Many of us are now painfully aware of how much we need to reduce our waste to lessen our impact on the climate and on nature. We are increasingly conscious about minimising plastic use, buying second- hand instead of new, and investing in things that are made and built to last.

Such mindfulness applies to gardening and the food we eat, from how we affect the health of our soils to how much of our food is wasted. Ben Raskin, head of horticulture at the Soil Association, has produced this book to help hone our gardening skills so we can minimise waste throughout the growing cycle.

The book is divided into four chapters, covering space, taste, waste and plants, as Raskin focuses on crop planning to use space cleverly, grow the tastiest food, and achieve the right yield for a household. He looks at how to store and preserve plant produce, how to save energy, water and materials, and use natural fertilisers.

In the plants chapter, which makes up half of the 180-page book, Raskin lists 60 crops for zero-waste gardening. Almost every plant is given a double- page spread detailing when to sow, plant, harvest and eat, as well as the plant’s yield (in the case of the aubergine, 2.75kg per square metre). There are also growing and zero-waste tips, plus, most helpfully, what to do if you have too much of a crop. A glut of radishes, says Raskin, can be turned into a quick pickle. Bake kale into crisps, freeze leeks, make pumpkin wine.

Almost every page is adorned with a beautiful colour illustration – from a pair of secateurs and a single chard leaf to full-page pictures of brimming pickling jars – by Alice Pattullo, whose hand often decorates the pages of Gardens Illustrated. I particularly liked the novel ideas incorporated into the text, such as the homemade solar dryer. Overall, this useful handbook is chock-full of inspiration.