Book Review and giveaway: Crops in Pots

Crops in Pots: 50 cool containers planted with fruit, vegetables and herbs by Bob Purnell (published by Spruce) is a fun, slightly different book to add to your library if you want to grow fruit and veg in a small space, or if you’re a keen produce gardener who wants to extend their planting options and ideas.

Crops in Pots cover

I don’t have a huge veg garden – just four 2’x6′ raised beds, so I already grow a fair bit of edible stuff in containers (I suppose that’s everything if you count the raised beds!). All my fruit bushes (gooseberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and jostaberries) for example, and some of my herb collection, are permanently in pots, and later on in the season, I will be putting a couple of courgette plants and some dwarf French beans into large pots/buckets with drainage holes, as I usually do. But up until now I’ve had a rather utilitarian rather than decorative approach, and limited myself to the obvious options. Bush courgettes in a bucket is not really very creative gardening!

This book has got me really inspired my to do something a bit different with my container gardening. I find it particularly appealing because it’s laid out like a cook book. There are 3 sections of planting ideas – Starters, Main Courses, and Desserts, and within that, each of the 50 container ideas is laid out like a little recipe, with full, specific names of plants, compost and containers required (including materials needed for germination if you are growing from seed). AND then, there’s a proper recipe too, using the contents (or some of the contents) of the pot. So, for example,the ‘recipe’ for combining 2 kinds of tumbling toms (orange and red), black-eyed Susan and curly parsley in hanging basket, is accompanied by a proper recipe for Tomato and Boccacini Bruscetta:

Crops in Pots 2


Here are some of my favourite combinations:

Purple and bronze – para cress, bronze fennel and marjoram in a galvanised trough:

Crops in Pots 3

Green garnish – annual rocket, parsley, garlic chives and coriander in a metal bucket

Crops in Pots 4

Currant affair – redcurrants and pinks in a square stone container

Crops in Pots 5

Mellow yellow – courgette and banana in an earthenware pot

Crops in Pots 6

Passion fashion – passionflower and cape gooseberry in an earthenware pot:

Crops in Pots 1

The 50 planting ideas are accompanied by detailed plant profiles and a pretty thorough introduction to choosing containers, plants to go in them, the types of compost to use and general information about caring for your plants long term (if required).

I thought I’d get started straight away, and grabbed this dwarf ‘Totem’ tomato plant, a box of reduced-price red lettuces (no label so no idea about the variety!) and an oregano plant from my local DIY store. I also popped in some self-seeded Calendula from elsewhere in my garden, for a bit of colour after the lettuces have gone over.

Gardening in pots 1

Gardening in pots 2

It was really fun to put together – and I’m looking forward to seeing how the pot develops over the summer and hoping it’s not a blighty year for tomatoes!


If you are UK based, and would like to win a copy of this book just leave a comment on this blog post before Wednesday (25 May) evening, when I will do the draw. Tell me about your garden, or just a ‘pick me’ will do, as usual.

good luck logo


28 thoughts on “Book Review and giveaway: Crops in Pots

  1. Please pick me! I broke my leg nearly 6 months ago and I’ve been housebound since… I’m still in a walking boot so gardening has gone off the agenda for me. My garden is overgrown, messy and I can’t enjoy it or weed it! I’d love to do some pots for the patio so at least I can see them grow! Fab post by the way!

  2. My next door neighbour’s just had a big clear out, and kindly gave me a few pots. Any new ideas always very welcome. Please count me in for your gorgeous giveaway. X

  3. I’ve grown the tumbling toms in window boxes for a couple of years now…..first year I had two per box and was completely over run! Now it’s strictly one per tub even if they do look very sad and lonely when first planted (perhaps that’s why they grow so strong to reach their chum in the next box along?). I’ve also got really chalky soil here in Dorset, so fruit bushes like blueberries and currants are best in pots anyway! Additionally, I have found keeping a veg patch behind a fence and growing in pots is a tad more successful when you have dogs!

    There are definitely a few rules in life I like (that is don’t completely ignore) and never having too many plants and books are two of them! Others, are things like craft stuff, fabric……*whistles off into the garden*

  4. My garden is mainly a football pitch for the boys, but I do have a 3’x5′ raised bed, small greenhouse and lots of pots that I grow veg and fruit in. My 6yo loves growing things with me and the raised bed is his patch.

  5. What a lovely book. Though I have a big garden with an area for vegetables, herbs and fruit I still have lots of containers and always interested on new ideas.
    Hope to win. Thanks

  6. It looks a lovely book. I’m all about the veggies down here and my garden is growing like crazy at the moment, lots of rain! I have raised beds because I know if it were just one big patch I’d find it far too daunting and it would get out of control fast. So containers are also right up my street from that perspective, and in fact I do already grow quite a lot in a very ‘contained’ way – in old tyres, which works well but isn’t the most decorative! So perhaps this book could pretty things up a bit!

  7. I grow all my veggies in pots and this book looks perfect for some new ideas. We own a tortoise and unless it’s above ground level it gets nibbled!

  8. I stopped my veggie garden when I was pregnant with no3, but he’s now a lively 3 year old who loves getting his hands dirty so definitely need to get stuck in again. I think container gardening is the way to go in our garden as the soil is so poor, so this book looks awesome.

  9. I’d love to try this, we’re re-doing the garden at the mo and the pots idea linked to recipes seems an easier approach to building my knowledge here.

  10. I would love to try my hand at container vegetable growing.
    Thank you very much for giving away a copy of this book

  11. Thanks for chance to win. We have a medium size garden but when we moved in 2 years ago it had no where to go veg or fruit. We built a raised bed and have a free cycled greenhouse waiting to be assembled. Growing in containers is an ambition too.

  12. Oh what a lovely looking book! I’m relatively new to growing my own so I need all the help I can get!!!

  13. M garden is more of a yard, I’m used to planting bulbs or herbs in pots but nothing much beyond that. I like the combinations this book suggests!

  14. What an Inspiring Book, would just love to win this. Health wise I can no longer do gardening but this is very attainable (or attainable for my dear Husband to do for my pleasure! )
    Love your ‘Garden’ Ali!

  15. we’ve got lettuce leaves, carrots, herbs, sweetcorn, rhubarb, currant bushes, strawberries, butternut squash, courgettes, spinach,swiss chard, broad beans and peas and onion sets growing in various boxes and containers around the garden plus tomatoes,cucumbers, peppers and mini cucumbers in the greenhouse too im determined this year to make use of every space we even plan on putting our 3 pumpkin plants in our compost heap to let run free we would love the book to give us yet more super ideas to fill other space — can you tell we are determined to cut our food bills

  16. This looks a very interesting book. We have just moved due to hubby’s job and now have a much smaller garden so I’m very interested in the idea of growing produce in containers. Love the look of the container you gave just planted.
    Jackie x

  17. What a lovely book, I would love to win this but if I am not successful then I think I will be giving some hints to my family for when my birthday comes round in September or I may even have to buy it for myself so I can plant some things out for this summer.
    Lovely to see the photos of your pots too.

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