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Delia's Kitchen Garden: A Beginners' Guide To Growing and Cooking Fruit And Vegetables    by Gay Search & Delia Smith order for
Delia's Kitchen Garden
by Gay Search
Order:  USA  Can
BBC Books, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

We're told that television gardener Gay Search helped Delia Smith 'rediscover the tradition of growing and cooking and enjoying good food.' Their coffee table sized book, Delia's Kitchen Garden, takes us through the growing year, with month by month instructions. It includes glorious color photographs as well as seasonal recipes, designed to take advantage of the garden's bounty.

It begins with the equipment and preparatory groundwork needed. Advice on composting includes a compost recipe. Instructional photos accompany the steps for 'Sowing Seeds' both inside and outside. Planting and pest control are discussed, with protective cloches suggested for early planting. The benefits of crop rotation are explained, and watering tips are provided.

Spring starts with sowing in March, outdoors and in the greenhouse - the possibilities are discussed in detail, from beans and peas to fruit trees, herbs, and flowers. Recipes include a delicious sounding Chinese Stir-fried Prawns with Purple-Sprouting Broccoli and Cashews. In April, we follow the progress of seedlings for all the plants sown in March, and add others that don't like the cold. From the recipes, I'd choose Crisp Roast Duck with a Confit of Rhubarb and Ginger.

On we travel on this gardening journey through the summer months, planting, harvesting, and eating the produce. I like the look of a recipe for Blueberry and Pecan American Muffins, and how about Roasted Tomato and Goats' Cheese Tart with Thyme or Oven-baked Smoked Pancetta and Leek Risotto? Scrumptious! In Autumn, we're told how to clean the greenhouse, and advised how to protect outside crops from early frosts. In Winter there's greenhouse work as well as seed sowing to gear up for spring.

At the back of the book are brief sections on growing produce in terracotta pots in a 'Patio Garden', or planting a 'Square foot garden' for those limited in space. If you're interested in growing your own fruit and vegetables, but don't have a great deal of experience, Delia's Kitchen Garden is a lovely book to inspire and explain the basics - with seasonal recipes as a welcome bonus.

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