Sonia Day: Incredible Edibles

Don’t worry — spring will come.

Collect those seed and flower catalogues, and plan your garden — with the help of Sonia Day‘s Incredible Edibles: 43 Fun Things to Grow in the City (Firefly 2011).

Whether you have a fire escape or a window sill or a small back yard plot, this book will help you select what will grow best, and then guide you through the whole growing season. This isn’t strictly a kid’s book, but children will find the writing easy to understand and the photography by Barrie Murdoch engaging.

The first section of the book is called “The Ten Commandments of Growing Food in the City” with rules like No. 2 “Supply Good Soil.” Sonia explains how to buy compost (if you don’t already have some) and how to sort through the different kinds of soil products. No. 5 “Think Twice Before Planting These” warns you away from the Brassica family (which includes broccoli and cauliflower) because the nasty pests that eat them are virtually impossible to get rid of in an organic garden. There is much helpful information like how to choose between seeds and plants and what to do with herbs after the summer.

The second section of the book is an alphabetical guide to vegetables and fruits. Along with a description of the plants and how to grow them, there a short list that highlights problems, difficulty, and how much to grow. The list starts with Asparagus Peas (p. 35) that not only have great edible pods but also lovely flowers. There are helpful photographs of the plant and a close up of the flowers and pod to make identification easy. Next is Basil (p. 36-37) that includes a description of nine popular varieties. The entry for Pole and Runner Beans (p. 38-39) includes a recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup. She also recommends two varieties that grow well in pots: Runner Bean Wisely Magic and Royal Burgundy.

Incredible Edibles is a fun book to give as a gift to a budding urban farmer along with the pots, gloves, and pack of seeds they’ll need in a few weeks.

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