By Kirsten Kruck.
“Regardless of where you live and how much land you have around you, you can grow at least some of your own food. Just do it.” ~ Stephanie Alexander.
Regarded as one of Australia’s great food educators, Stephanie Alexander has brought light to the mystery which surrounds building your own bountiful edible garden with her latest book, The Kitchen Garden Companion. The home gardening enthusiast has devoted over 15 years championing for educating the next generation on sustainable and healthy eating by creating kitchen gardens in primary schools throughout Australia. This original masterpiece however, was quite bulky, so upon revision and division of the book, two manageable sections were born: Gardening and Cooking.
The Gardening companion offers up detailed expert tips, where hands on information will have even the novice home gardener planting amaranth and rosemary to zucchini and zucchini flowers in no time.
Stephanie focuses on all aspects of the planted seedling from preparing its cultivation to how to use it cooking. You’ll find that some fruits, vegetables and herbs have different requirements and each are individually itemised for successful growing like soil type, soil preparation and what climate the herb or vegetable likes to grow in. More tips are offered in sections on growing, harvesting and fertilisation as well as pest and organic control.
Preparing and sharing is a fantastic section detailing the best use for what you have just grown and harvested like marmalade or cordial making after a plenteous citrus crop or what to do with the delicious beetroots you’ve just pulled out of the ground. The last section on most pages is especially for kids, offering interactive educational activities to do with the young ones, like spreading the seeds of a parsley plant that has gone to seed or instructions on drying out your own harvested grapes to create your very own healthy sultanas.
“I was raised in a food-loving household where what we ate (much of it home-grown) was often discussed, always appreciated, and I was inspired by the flavours and practices of many cultures. I know what it did for me.” ~ Stephanie Alexander.
Her beliefs are that a love of gardening and sourcing beautiful, fresh produce encourages healthy eating not only among children but adults as well, which in turn she hopes will contribute to a healthier next generation.
The Kitchen Garden Companion is a must read for anyone interested in the cultivation of their own healthy food. It’s a great guide for first time horticulturists, a refresher for more seasoned gardeners or a growing bible for your family. Essentially, this guide is for anyone wanting to teach themselves and their children the benefits of growing and caring for their own food, and the best part is the Cooking Companion will show you how to create delicious dishes from your bountiful harvest.
Photography supplied by www.stephaniealexander.com.au and credits are given to: Penguin Books/Lantern and photographer Simon Griffiths.