Spade, Seed & Supper by Martin Spice

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Last year I interviewed author Martin Spice all about his family book Lynx:Back to the Wild, which you can read here. By way of a thank you, Martin was kind enough to send me a copy of another of his books Spade, Seed & Supper. I’ve explained why it’s taken me so long to review some of the books I have been sent here, but finally I got round to reading Spade, Seed & Supper and it was so worth the wait.

Spade, Seed & Supper is available for purchase in e-book here.

Spade, Seed & Supper

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“And it so happened that just up the road, in the very centre of the beautiful Cotswold village of Amberley, were the sweetest, loveliest, flattest, best tended allotments in the entire universe. Or so it seemed to us.”

The demand for allotments is at an all time high and the grow-your-own vegetable movement is in full swing. Spade, Seed & Supper offers a tongue-in-cheek insight into the trials, tribulations and triumphs of tending your own patch. Including some delicious, well-tried recipes for the produce that the birds and slugs don’t get, this honest, down to earth and amusing account of allotment life reveals the reality behind the glossy pictures of the ‘how to’ books and settles once and for all the issue of whether growing your own actually saves you any money. Mel Narongchai’s beautiful and witty illustrations complement the text perfectly.

My Review of Spade, Seed & Supper

With house prices high, an allotment is a good alternative to moving!

Let me say at the outset that if you’re looking for a text book about crop rotation, pest control and seasonal planting, then Spade, Seed & Supper is not for you. If like me, however, you’re familiar with the trials of having an allotment and you want a book written by someone who knows exactly what that entails then Spade, Seed & Supper is perfection.

The conversational tone is delightful. Martin Spice writes with such wit and warmth I was completely charmed by his style. I can’t remember another gardening book that has made me laugh until I cried, because so much was so familiar. We have an allotment because we couldn’t afford to move to a bigger house and garden. We too have seen flimsy materials blown away like Martin’s cold frame (except ours was a complete greenhouse). We use a mattock in the way Martin wields a pick axe. We have a Paul on our site (though he’s called Sam) and I recognised the sense of community Martin describes just as much as the potato blight he encounters. It was the rhetorical questions peppered in the chapters that gave the text vivacity and humour for me.

As well as the charming prose, there are lovely, humorous illustrations from Mel Narongchai that further bring the writing to life. Also included are some simple and realistic recipes. Indeed, I’ve used Martin’s leek and potato soup recipe already so I know they work. I really appreciated the smattering of quotations throughout the text too. There are apposite comments from T.S. Eliot through Muddy Waters to Voltaire.

Yes, there are helpful tips along the way for growing on an allotment, but Spade, Seed & Supper is only partly a book about allotmenteering. Mostly it’s about people and their small successes and failures. I loved it and if you’re an allotmenteer I dare say you will too.

About Martin Spice

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Martin Spice is a journalist, author and reviewer whose work has appeared in the Times Educational Supplement, The Weekly Telegraph, The South China Morning Post, The Star (Malaysia), Marie Claire and numerous other publications.

You can follow Martin on Twitter and visit his website.

10 thoughts on “Spade, Seed & Supper by Martin Spice

    • You’ll have to read the book to find out …(But it’s a fine line)! We cover our annual costs in renting the plot just in strawberries but when you take into consideration the £1100 we spent on a greenhouse because a cheaper one blew away it’ll be a while before we’re in profit!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ouch! Back where I live (Lithuania), the garden/patch culture has been alive since the 60s or even earlier – we were in the Soviet Union, and they encouraged people to grow their own veggies, cause.. well, economy – you understand. So most people really have some sort of patch either just outside the city or something like that. They are owned, not rented, so at least there’s no bills to pay – but people have been dropping out of the whole “grow it” thing, that’s more of a grandma thing to do now – cause it just takes so much time and needs so much effort. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy from the local market, where it’s the same grandma selling it. We do have a garden though, but lately mom’s made it all lawn, plus zucchini and pumpkin here and there because they just grow on their own, plus the apple trees that we’ve had for years.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think the allotment culture and grow your own is thriving and increasing here in the UK. There are waiting lists for allotments. Ours is £20 a year which is pretty good I think!

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