New Oxford Book of Food Plants

The mini-heat wave in the North East has many people rushing to tidy up their Spring gardens and get ready for summer’s bounty. They dream of the perfect cook’s garden filled with amazing vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs. It would be hard to find a more excellent place to start getting the garden ready then
The New Oxford Book of Food Plants (Oxford 2nd Edition 2009) by the late
J.G. Vaughan & C. A. Geissler . With its elegant and informative illustrations by B. E. Nicholson, Elisabeth Dowle, and David Bellamy, the book is a wonderful encyclopedia of the bountiful earth.

Look at a page on Young Stems and Leaf Stalks (pp. 184-85) The illustrations show asparagus rhubarb, bamboo shoots, and various other greens arranged in a tasty picture. There are short essays about each vegetable, including information on its organ, culinary use, and production. You’ll learn not only about asparagus spears, but also about the red berry the plant produces as a fruit.

There are many pages on legumes, including a lovely illustration of Runner Beans and French Beans (p. 47) that shows the different stages of beans from flower to pod to dried bean. You’ll learn about runner beans: This bean is a native of the uplands at an altitude of about 1000 m. of Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, and possibly other countries) and was domesticated in that area‚Ķ. In its original area it is cultivated as a perennial and is grown for its tender pods, green and dry seeds, tuberous, starchy roots. (p. 46)

Who knew you could eat the roots of bean plants?

The New Oxford Book of Food Plants is the kind of book to get lost in, looking at the illustrations, reading about obscure facts, and marveling at the abundance of good things to grow.

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