Sarah Raven’s Grow, Cook, Eat Diary – Book Review

From Sarahraven.com

ISBN: 9 781529816617

I’ve never kept a gardening diary before, but I’m enjoying making daily notes in my new Sarah Raven diary. The diary is sturdy enough to take outdoors; the paper is thick, good quality so can stand up to being taken into the greenhouse and potting shed. I’m making lists of seeds I want to sow, dahlias I want to pot up, and general maintenance jobs about the garden. I love making lists- and I love ticking things off the lists! There’s a sense of satisfaction in ticking them off, especially when the list seems never-ending.

There are some beautiful and inspiring photos relevant to each month in the diary. For January, there’s a winter container planting of a terracotta long tom pot with Sarah’s favourite hellebore ‘Maestro’ which is often seen in her flower arrangements.

For March, there’s Fritillaria ‘Early Sensation’ which has a pale, greeny- yellow flower, much more delicate and easy to site than the brash bright golden variety usually found. It’s growing here in a galvanised metal container next to a patch of rosemary.

September’s photo is bright and cheerful. Just what’s needed for a cold, windswept February day as I’m making plans for lots of summer colour. Here’s Zinnia ‘Giant Dahlia Mix’, Tagetes ‘Linnaeus’ and Thunbergia alata ‘African Sunset.’

There’s recipe suggestions for each month. I’ve made these spiced ginger and oat biscuits and can report they are absolutely delicious. The family demolished them in just one day. They are quick and easy to make, which is just as well as I’ve have had another request for some more. I made the vegan version by using dairy-free margarine.

I used the chickpeas for a red onion hummus dip, which is also fast to make. Just cook a sliced red onion in 1 tbsp olive oil, add a tin of chick peas and 150ml water. Simmer for 10 minutes with the lid off. Add 2 tbsp lemon juice, garlic salt and pepper. Few tbsp of fresh parsley and chives if you have any. Whizz in a food processor and serve with toast or on jacket potatoes. Another recipe suitable for vegans, if you have any in the family as we do, or unexpected visitors. Which we also often have. They sit around the kitchen table while I quickly make this dish.

Here’s my spiced oat biscuits. Delicious with a cup of tea or coffee.

I’m intrigued by this basil icecream recipe for summer. As Sarah says, it sounds odd, but I’m going to give it a try and report back.

I’m going to have a go at these dried allium and poppy seed head decorations as well. Such a beautiful and cheerful Christmas scene from the fireplace at Perch Hill.

Other features of the book I liked: The fold-out ‘when and how’ guide on seed sowing for cut flowers. The guide to sowing and planting edibles, wild flowers, fruit, potatoes, herbs and salads. A guide to sowing and planting ‘pollinator super’ plants to attract bees and butterflies. There’s a useful ruler for seed sowing spacing. And the metal ring binder design means the diary can easily be folded back on itself.

There are not many books I carry around with me all the time, but the Sarah Raven diary is robust enough to slip into my garden tool kit bag, and is proving a joy to dip into on a daily basis.

https://www.sarahraven.com/products/sarah-raven-diary-2021

Sarah Raven also sent me a wall calendar to try, and this too has beautiful photos for each month and plenty of space to write appointments and events. Both will be ordered for 2023 as I’m thoroughly enjoying using the calendar and diary.

Do any of you write a garden diary? My father in law used to keep a perpetual diary. Sadly he died last summer, but he gave me his diary with all the daily notes about sowing dates and varieties he preferred. I check each day to see if I am keeping up with his impeccable timetable. It’s a lovely way to remember him and a reminder of all the flowers he grew for his wife Joan, and the fruit and vegetables he grew for the family.

22 thoughts on “Sarah Raven’s Grow, Cook, Eat Diary – Book Review

  1. Hi Karen. Good to hear from you, and hope all is well. 😃 Your diary sounds similar to a German one I have, although I haven’t come across any recipes yet. I only record the weather in it, but have a big notebook for gardening notes, where I write down all my sowing and planting, as well as any progress on projects or when I prune/cut things down etc. I suspect the photos in Sarah Raven’s diary are wonderful – Jonathan Buckley is an excellent photographer. How nice for you to have your father-in-law’s diary with all his notes. What a great memento of his gardening years and knowledge.

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    • Hello Cathy! Good to hear from you too. I’ve been looking after family members, so no time for blog writing for a few months. Yes, the photos are superb. Jonathan Buckley is a favourite of mine too. Do hope your garden has fared well in these awful storms. Today is the first day for a week when we haven’t had high winds. First job of the day will be going round the garden and picking up all the twigs and small branches that have come down. Not too much damage, thankfully. It’s fascinating to see what the weather was like when my father in law was gardening. Spring is definitely getting more unpredictable and stormy. But frosts are arriving much later, not arriving until the New Year. So it looks like the seasons are shifting forwards. Thanks for reading the blog. Take care. Karen x

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  2. Dear Karen. It’s been a long time since you posted, I hope you are well, I missed you. Karen Sarah Raven’s garden diary is magnificent, I love it. Her photos of each month so divine, her food recipes like the cookies you made and they turned out so appetizing, the planting calendar for all kinds of plants, …. it’s magnificent !!! I also love the calendar. I follow Sarah Raven on YouTube the beautiful videos of her. Karen I am so sorry about the passing of your father-in-law last summer. He gave you his perpetual garden journal with all his daily entries. Karen that you use him every day is the most affectionate way to remember him: he will always be with you. Karen I hope you and your whole family are in good health. My brother and his wife are with Covid Omicron: they are at home and it is like a slight cold. They have the three doses of the vaccine put. We just had a video conference with them and they are better than yesterday. But I am very worried and my dear Mother has hardly been able to sleep tonight. They told us yesterday and they had been with Covid for a few days without saying anything so as not to worry my mother. Karen good health, strength, encouragement, hope, be very careful with Covid and lots of love for your whole family, Mr B and for you. All my love and best wishes. Very loving greetings from Margarita xxx 😘🙏💚

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    • Thank you Margarita. I’ve been busy looking after family members for a few months, so no time for blogging. However, things are getting a little easier, so I’m hoping to have a bit more time. I am so sorry to hear about your brother and his wife. My family members and close friends have all had covid and my mum’s neighbours too. Thus far, we have managed to avoid it, but I do feel it’s closing in around us. I have given up a lot of the things I like to do in order to try to avoid catching the virus. I’m desperate not to pass anything on to the care home or my Mum. We are regularly going to visit Joan, particularly now that she doesn’t have my father-in-law with her. Keep strong, keep smiling and try to keep positive despite everything happening around us. Loving greetings in return. Lots of love, karen and all the family xxx 😘

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      • Thank you Karen for your words of encouragement. I sincerely hope that your dear Mother and Joan never catch Covid, and neither do you. My friend Karen, I am very sorry that you have been taking care of sick family members: I hope that they are all recovered and in good health. Karen a lot of strength and encouragement, and a lot of calm: nerves only lead to bad decisions and eventually to depression, like me. My brother and his wife are already cured of Covid, and they are doing very well. My dear Mother and I take great care of ourselves so as not to get infected. Karen take good care of yourself and your whole family. Much love, hope, and best wishes to you and your entire family. Very loving greetings from Margarita xxx 😘🙏💚

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  3. I keep a perpetual diary of the garden or I would never remember what and more importantly when I planted. Sarah Raven’s diary is very appealing and I know from my experience with her “Garden Cook Book” and “The Great Vegetable Plor” that her recipes are spot on. Amelia

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    • Hello Amelia, I must admit, as life has got a little bit more stressful lately, I’m not able to remember what and when I planted things. There seems to be so much more to think about these days. So I’m having to write things down or I’ll get in a muddle. I’m going to search out the books you mention. I’ve been very pleased with the recipes I’ve tried so far. Hope your garden has survived the awful storms we’ve had recently. Take care. And thanks for reading the blog and getting in touch. Karen x

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  4. What a well presented diary Karen, and you have highlighted its contents so well – not sure I would want to carry one round with me though! I am in my 4th year of Avon Bulb’s garden diary and found it helpful to check back when I did certain jobs in the garden, and when things were flowering. I also keep a note of the weather – oh and roughly how long I spend gardening, as visitors do ask me. You father-in-law’s diary must be a wonderful and poignant resource to have. Hope all is well with you, as I am aware we haven’t heard from you in a while.

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    • Hello Cathy, lovely to hear from you. I’ve missed keeping in touch. I’ve been looking after family members, young and old, so no time for writing recently. Yes, my father-in-law’s diary is such a comforting thing to read. He wanted to help me in some way, and giving me his gardening diary was a lovely way to do so. Funnily enough, I didn’t realise this at the time. But then, I thought he would live forever. We are stepping up the visits to Joan now she doesn’t have her husband by her side. And she has been very poorly with covid too, which she will not recover from. So not much time for gardening, and if I don’t write everything down, I seem to forget things straight away. I always used to be able to keep a lot more information in my head. But now, I’m making sure I write in diaries and notebooks. Much better than bits of paper all over the house. Take care. Love karen x

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    • Thank you. I remember him handing the diary to me- and I didn’t realise the significance at the time. Although I replay the scene in my head like a little video. Funny how we remember things isn’t it. Like still photographs and little videos of moments in time. Anyway, he wanted to help me in some way, and he has. So comforting to see someone’s hand written jottings. And a reminder that spring will arrive, followed by summer- as it always has, despite a stressful and rather awful autumn and winter. Thanks for reading and getting in touch. Take care. Karen x

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    • Thank you Anne. It’s very comforting to see his neat hand writing and all the advice he wrote in the diary. It’s such a calm and orderly account. It was kind of him to give it to me. Thanks for your kind words. I hope you are keeping well over there. We are ok here and so far managing to avoid the dreaded covid. Take care. Karen x

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