Book Review and Giveaway: Build a Better Vegetable Garden

build-a-better-vegetable-gardenAt this time of year my thoughts turn to planning for the veggie garden for the upcoming growing season. I love a cosy evening looking at ideas on my Pinterest gardening board, looking at seed catalogues and making ambitious plans. What I always have to keep in mind is that our budget is limited, so that’s why I was so pleased to be given the opportunity to review Build a Better Vegetable Garden – 30 DIY Projects to Improve your Harvest by Joyce Russell with photographs by Ben Russell (published by Frances Lincoln). It’s full of ideas to create garden structures, supports, containers, beds and loads more too – all of which can be made without too much outlay (especially if you already have some of the the DIY tools).

My ambition this year is to work on our fruit garden. The current arrangements for our gooseberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries were put together as a ‘temporary’ measure about 5 years ago, and are quickly becoming unsustainable! I am so fed up of the battle with our resident wood pigeons over my gooseberry harvest… and don’t get me started on my rage with the squirrels who pick a lovely luscious strawberry, eat half, then throw the rest away! So I am excited to see that there are simple, inexpensive, projects for a fruit cage, plus a project to make post and wire supports for raspberries.

We also plan to plant dwarf apple trees – so I was excited to see this drying cabinet project:


Other projects that got me interested include a simple A-shaped bean frame, which look so much more elegant, practical and sturdy than my wobbly garden cane structures:


I was also excited to see ideas for creating a cold frame and a covered hot bed plus projects to create raised beds, all kinds of planters, a garden caddy, a boot cleaner, troughs for grow bags and loads more.

You can start simple with a leaf compost bin or maybe some simple cloches:



Then move onto the trickier projects like these fabulous slug-proof salad beds – which have the advantage of being able to be moved nearer to the house later on in the growing season. I even have a supply of old wellies to use:


I have done garden DIY projects before (putting decking in our first garden in London was a wild introduction!), but it has been a long time, so I am glad to see that there are two excellent sections on tools, materials and safety. If you are a total beginner, I think you could feel pretty confident in the advice given here. The added bonus is all the brilliant gardening tips – this feels like real value for money!

As you can see from some of the photos I have included here, each project has a difficulty grading, so you can start with something achievable, and then work your way up to something a bit trickier when you have the confidence.. And there’s also an indication of how long each project will take to complete (although, knowing me and my ability to drill holes in the wrong places – did I mention that decking in London?) I need to add on a couple of hours to every project, just to make sure!


My favourite project is this fabulous shed shelving and hanging system. Just need a shed to put it in…


I have a copy of this fab book to giveaway. Just leave a comment on this post, maybe telling me what your garden plans are this year, or, as usual, I don’t mind a ‘pick me’. I am happy to post the book anywhere in the world, but bear in mind some of the gardening information might not be quite right for your climate! Please leave your comment before 9pm on Friday 13th January to be in with a chance of winning.

Build a Better Vegetable Garden by Joyce Russell, photography by Ben Russell, is published by Frances Lincoln (£16.99)