Planning a garden with cookbooks

I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I’d like in the garden over the last few days (due to a minor foot injury), but I’ve still been spending my breaks thinking about what could be planted in the future veggie plot. I’ve turned to a different source of inspiration this week – my cookbooks. 

One of the most useful pieces of advice that I’ve repeatedly come across for vegetable gardens is: only grow what you like to eat. There’s no point in me growing cauliflowers, Brussel sprouts or iceberg lettuce when neither of us is a fan of these; instead I’m looking at producing as much as I can of the veggies and fruits that we do eat.

The view from the back door out into the garden.

I love Asian cuisines: Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai… and have a lot of books on these topics (the books pictured in the photos below are only part of my collection – I also have some in e-book form). I enjoy experimenting with all the different recipes, but I’ve found it’s difficult to get hold of some of the ingredients.

So I’ve been looking through my books this week, making notes of some of the vegetables and herbs that I could possibly try growing. Garlic chives, coriander and basil were already on the list of plants to grow, although the list of basil has been expanded – I was surprised to discover how many different types are now available.

Part of my cookbook collection.

They’ve been joined by mint (to be grown in a pot so it doesn’t take over the garden), bamboo (to be grown in a pot for the same reasons), Chinese broccoli, perilla, mizuna, chrysanthemums (the ones grown for their edible leaves) and maybe even hostas – they haven’t cropped up in any of my books yet, but they were described in an article written by James Wong and sound very interesting.

A few of the other plants on my list may require a bit more research: pandanus, Vietnamese mint, ginger and vanilla orchids. Lithgow’s climate is described on Wikipedia as ‘featuring a subtropical highland climate’, which means we get warm summers and cool to cold winters with frosts (and sometimes snow).

More of my cookbook collection.

These plants – and possibly even some of the ones on my outdoors list – won’t take very kindly to the conditions in the cooler months. However, I have two possible options up my sleeve – we recently purchased a small, mesh cover greenhouse so I can give vegetable seedlings a head-start in spring; maybe some of these plants could live in there?

Otherwise, we have two very sunny rooms and I’d love to have some indoor plants, particularly in my office. Obviously, more research will be required – has anyone else every tried growing any of these as indoor plants?

Our mandarin tree, growing in a sheltered spot.

2 thoughts on “Planning a garden with cookbooks

  1. No words of advice from me, I’d just like to say that your blog is balm for the soul. I can’t even begin to picture all those vegetables, herbs etc that you listed but they sound like poetry!


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