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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Zero Mile Diet Is A Ten - No! It's A Twelve!

This is another of those books that I'm not sure I'm going to like at first pass, but then find out I love when I actually sit down and spend some time with it.

The author spent twenty years operating her own nursery, and turned over to growing food crops at the Garden Path Centre in Victoria, British Columbia, so she definitely has the credentials to write a gardening book.  I found, however, while reading the first couple of chapters of The Zero Mile Diet, that she also has the chops: I started taking notes, and soon there were more than I could handle. I'm going to have to buy this book because I learned so much in the first three months (the chapters are laid out in months), that I didn't have room for notes.  In fact, I didn't finish really reading the book, I just skimmed ahead, because I know I'm going to buy it.

For instance, I knew that blueberries liked acid soil, but I didn't know that strawberries and potatoes do too.  I knew that dolomitic lime was a good source of calcium and magnesium, but I didn't know that lime makes clay soil release water, thus improving it that way as well, and although I knew that liming the soil raises the pH somewhat, I didn't know that acidic soil is a prime environment for the organisms that cause scab and canker which are the two worst problems for fruits trees, and that liming your soil around your fruit trees annually will substantially help them fight off these diseases. This was just a little bit of what I learned in the January chapter.

The book is peppered heavily with lovely color photographs, for which we all know I'm a sucker, and lightly salted with lots of recipes, which I particularly like, because they help you use the stuff that's in season.  She covers perennial vegetables rather in depth- we've all heard of artichokes, asparagus, and sunchokes, but have you ever heard of Oca? Good King Henry? Sea Kale? Sprouting Broccoli? I'm intrigued.

She covers edible weeds, and weeds that feed beneficial insects.  The only wish I could have for this subject would be for good color photographs- identifying weeds properly would be such a huge help. The only one I know for sure is the dandelion.  She also only recommends open pollinated varieties, with suggested cultivars, because she firmly believes in seed-saving as the key to self-sufficiency, and includes seed saving information for each kind of vegetable.

I love this book!  There are too many good reasons and copious subject matter to cover here, really.  I want this book!

Borrow it first, if you can, and find out for yourself; there's just too much good stuff in it.  You'll think you have to get one too.


Amy Lagerquist said...

This one sounds right up my alley! Thanks for the recommendation...I hope my library system has it!

Paula said...

I do too, Amy- it's a good one.

Toni aka irishlas said...

Definitely gonna check this one out!

Diana (Di) said...

Paula, what wonderful information! I did not know that spreading lime around our fruit trees would help in preventing scab. I may have to look for this book. Thanks

Kate said...

Thanks for the review. I just requested this through ILL from my library. I'll wait and see how much of it transfers from the PNW to PA before I shell out for it.

Paula said...

I'd be curious to know how applicable you find it Kate.

Danni said...

Sounds like a winner! I especially love that she's from the Pacific Northwest - so many of the garden bibles I have are based in other areas of the country.
I'll give it a try. Thanks, Paula!

Jennifer Montero said...

Good King Henry is a weed that you may be able to forage for. I love its Latin name: Chenopodium bonus-henricus. I think it's the same genus as quinoa.

And there's an easy to grow veg called tree spinach - Chenopodium giganteum. I worked at Chelsea Flower Show a few years ago and we were selling those seeds like they were crack.

Still loving these book reviews.

Toni@BackyardFeast said...

Hey! Carolyn Herriot has a very loyal following in British Columbia, and I waited impatiently for this book to come out last year. It definitely didn't disappoint for those of us in the PNW, but I'm so glad to hear there's so much of use to you farther south! I'm excited that Herriot's well-deserved reputation might build beyond the coast. (I've got a review of this one on my blog too)