Book Review: “Minding my Peas and Cucumbers”

As this is my first foray into writing a book review I would really appreciate constructive comments, but remember I am a sensitive soul so nothing nasty please.  
Summersdale Publishers have kindly provided me with a second copy to give away.  So  please say if you would like a copy and I will draw a name out of a hat on Monday 19 September.  
I apologise in advance but due to postage costs, this offer is limited to the UK only.

When I received a request from Summersdale Publishers to review one of their books I was very flattered, it was the first time I had been approached to write a review on my blog.  I hope this will be the first of many.  The book, “Minding my Peas and Cucumbers” by Kay Sexton, arrived a few days later.

The front cover reads Quirky Tales of Allotment Life so I expected it to be a book you would give someone as an amusing, light-hearted present.  It was light reading and amusing, but I am not sure I would have labelled it ‘quirky’.  I found it interesting and full of useful tips for anyone starting out as an Allotmenteer and it included recipes.

Kay Sexton has worked on various allotments for almost twenty years, starting out as a co-worker and tenant’s manager.  Most of the book charts her learning curve on an allotment as a co-worker.  She nicknamed her plot “Nearly” because it wasn’t quite hers.   There is a timeline that runs through the book, but also each chapter seems to stand on its own.   Some chapters are wry tales about the other allotment holders and I suspect anyone reading it will recognise the characters, there must be at least one of each type on most allotments.   Other chapters are packed full of ideas, such as how to make your own pots out of newspaper and container growing, which Kay admits can be seen as cheating, but gives you time to learn, think and plan in your first year.  There is also a functional list of items to take to an allotment, including a whistle, not something that would spring to my mind but at times when there are very few people around this sounds eminently sensible.

It is not and doesn’t claim to be a high-brow, technical, book but Kay Sexton does write about practical matters such as planning your crops, ways to deal with gluts, allotment inspections and managing your Summer break.  It is cleverly interspersed with recipes, although Broccoli Hash and Lovage and Lentils are not ones I would try, Winter-Stored Apple and Frozen Blackberry Tarte Tatin sounds absolutely delicious.

I think the cover belies how useful “Minding my Peas and Cucumbers” would be for anyone who has aspirations of owning an allotment or is just starting out and should not be dismissed as a “jokey book”.  I enjoyed reading it very much and although not an allotment holder I will refer to it often for my own garden.


22 thoughts on “Book Review: “Minding my Peas and Cucumbers”

  1. Good review. Hope it is the first of many.
    Title of the book is very witty but didn’t realise this book also gives helpful tips – your review highlighted this fact and has made me interested in reading it.


  2. Now I’ve published my own review, I’m reading the ones other bloggers have written. There are so many I’m wondering if there will be anyone left to buy the book and it’s beginning to feel as if we have been set an especially rewarding homework assignment from school.

    I too liked it a lot – and haven’t found a reviewer yet who hasn’t.

    It will be hard not to give it to everyone I know for Christmas. (On the other hand – it would solve having to think; I could simply order a load and parcel them up!)



  3. Yes please, lovely review. Like you have no allotment but love my little veggie plot and would love to read this one. Congrats on your first book review- first of many I hope.


  4. I enjoyed the review Ronnie, sounds like a worthwhile book to have – I suspect they are pushing “quirky” in an attempt to distinguish it from other allotment books. Now that “growing your own” has become so trendy there are so many allotment books, it must be hard to carve out a market. Good luck with future reviews and the attendant free books!


      1. Goodness, really? I felt guilty about even thinking about putting my name in the hat as I already have several great allotment books, but yes please, I am a book junky at the best of times and this sounded interesting.


  5. I really enjoyed your review, so much so, I wanted to run out and get. I am from the states and at first did not understand what allotments were but I got it now. Thank you liking my Path photo. I never would have found out about this book without it


  6. I haven’t read the book yet (it’s on my Amazon wishlist) but I thought your review was well-rounded and informative. It’s especially useful because now I know a bit more about the book, I know that it’s going to be useful as well as a good biographical read. Thank you!


  7. I have just read this book as well and I think your review is spot on and says more or less what I would say (so I will have to rethink that!!). I found it quite a hard book to pigeonhole as it isnt a ‘how to’ book and it isnt a novel but there are elements of both.

    Well done and do not fear I am sure there will be more book reviews in the pipeline


  8. I already have a copy of this book, Ronnie, bought for me by my daughter who I share an allotment with, but I would love another copy to give to my other daughter who has just acquired an allotment this year. She lives a long way from us so lending her the book is not easy. Maybe I’m being a bit greedy there!
    I think your book review was really well written and as I have not finished the book yet, it has inspired me to get on with reading it.


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