I always wondered what was in Joy Larkcom’s filing cabinets. In her house in Suffolk she had a whole row of them - steel, four drawers each – all along one wall of her work room. And then when we visited her in her new home in Cork – there they all were. But without them she would not have been able to produce this extraordinary memoir.
For decades, Britain’s “Queen of vegetable growing” has directly or indirectly influenced just about every home vegetable grower – on both sides of the Atlantic. An influential pioneer of organic growing, she also introduced many heirloom European and Asian and American varieties to a far wider community of growers as a result of her research trips around Europe, China, Japan and North America. She learned Mandarin for her Chinese trip, took her kids out of school for a year to tour Europe in ramshackle caravan, pioneered baby leaf salads, brought seed back from round the world and grew it, and tested and tasted the results. She took copious notes, took copious pictures too, kept decades of old seed catalogs and research reports – that’s what was bursting out of those filing cabinets.
And some of all that has found its way into her new book. Joy has distilled her life’s experience – well, some of it anyway – into this unique memoir which brings us accounts of her on-a-shoestring travels, her discoveries and insights, the best of the articles she’s written over forty years, together with her more recent reflections. It’s an approach which is hugely engaging, consistently revealing and which bursts with proven approaches to growing food.
Just Vegetating – A Memoir by Joy Larkcom is published by Frances Lincoln
- A unique presentation of a life’s work helping us all grow better vegetables
- Fun to read, with great pictures of Joy’s gardens (and family) and veg growing around the world
- Combines entertainment with top class practical advice
Just Vegetating was published in Britain in June. It becomes available in North America in September but advance orders can be placed now. There’s a review for British readers on my Simply Gardening blog, and a profile of Joy I wrote ten years ago on my website and some thoughts on visiting Joy in Cork on a 2009 Transatlantic Gardener blog post.