Urban gardener who swapped business for an ‘allotment career’
I must admit, I am drawn to gardening books written by self-taught gardeners who learn by trial and error and Rekha Mistry’s debut offering, Rekha’s Kitchen Garden is full of charm and useful information.
In its 192 pages, you’ll learn how to grow more than 40 seasonal crops with kitchen tips, monthly tasks, and favourite seed varieties. All the inspiration comes from her North London allotment. To make it easier as a reference book, it is organised by the time of year the crops are harvested.
Seasonal ‘garden tips’ on every page offer advice, while ‘kitchen tips’ reveal how Rekha uses her harvest. ‘Planting partners’ introduce readers to companion planting.
Rekha’s Kitchen Garden – Focus on organic growing
Rekha’s Kitchen Garden focuses on growing organically, preventing disease and pests and using crop rotation. There is also a handy month-by-month task list for the home, greenhouse and outdoors.
Rekha’s gardening journey began in Zambia, helping in her mother’s kitchen garden, to her current plot. She said: “I wasn’t born with a silver garden fork in my hand. In the beginning, I was self-taught, learning along the way. I asked questions and researched how I could grow food organically and sustainably. I scoured second-hand gardening books, picking up tips from these writers and experts.
“Before long, my allotment became far more than a pastime. I said goodbye to a successful 25-year career running our family business, started my gardening blog, and discovered photography. I enrolled for an RHS diploma in Horticulture, which led to work as a professional gardener in a prestigious London garden.
Rekha’s Kitchen Garden – Love of fresh produce
“Now, my love for fresh produce has outgrown the paradise that was my mother’s kitchen garden. It outgrew that tiny space that doubled as a family football pitch. It has become a way for me to share my experiences, my expertise, and – more importantly – my love for all things grow-your-own and led, one way or another, to this book.”
If you’ve just rented an allotment and aren’t sure where to start, this is the book you need to get going. It’s also a handy reference book for more experienced growers who are making the transition to full organic growing.
Formerly a successful businesswoman, Rekha is now an allotment blogger, garden writer and presenter on BBC TV Gardeners’ World.
Rekha’s Kitchen Garden: Seasonal produce and home-grown wisdom from one gardener’s allotment year by Rekha Mistry, published by DK, available now in hardback, price £18.99. For details, visit www.dk.com.
Other great gardening books
- The Regenerative Garden by Stephanie Rose: 80 DIY projects using permaculture techniques – ideal for beginners, £18.99.
- Sustainable Garden by Marian Boswall: Taking a ‘whole world’ approach to sustainable gardening, £18.
- Shade by Susanna Grant (main picture): My favourite book of the year – a must if you have a shady area and don’t know what to do with it. Winner of the Garden Publication of the Year Award at the Garden Media Guild Awards 2021, £12.99.
- Son of the Secret Gardener by Trevor Millum: The author’s grandfather was the head gardener at Maytham Hall, the famous Secret Garden. It’s a delightful look back at our recent social history and literature, £11.50.
- RHS The Creative Gardener by Adam Frost: 25 projects thought up by Adam during lockdown, £20.
- How To Grow by Marcus Bridgewater: Self-help and positivity through gardening, £17.99.