Can you remember those early days of vegetable growing when you couldn't tell a spade from a shovel, a cucumber from a courgette and thought a propagator was a kind of crocodile? Horticulturist Marti Fiddes reminisces...

JohnbookAlthough you can look back and chuckle at your early attempts at gardening, there are hundreds of novice veg growers in exactly the same boat right now, seeking some guidance on how to produce perfect scarlet tomatoes and unblemished lettuces.

So where do you start? Some will reach for the keyboard and fire off an e-mail to a company like ours (and many do); surfing the world wide web is a must; asking green-fingered friends and relatives will be high up on the list; as will speaking to garden-loving neighbours and allotmenteers; and there's certainly no shortage of gardening based TV programmes to advise you what to do.

But what about reference books? A trusty right hand man who can accompany you up the garden and stand by in the potting shed until needed sounds ideal. And we've got a very informative literary garden aid to help you - John Harrison's Vegetable Growing Month by Month.

John HJohn's got over 30 years of organic gardening experience to fall back on and his 256 page tome certainly belongs ritght at hand in the potting shed. You'll find chapters on Where to Grow and Preparing to Grow, Planning the Gardening Year and Getting the Most from Your Land, right through to Tools, Compost and Manures and Watering; not forgetting Pests, Problems and Protection.

But don't take my word for it; multi-Gold medal winner at Chelsea, and arguably the country's most successful vegetable grower, Medwyn Williams MBE, has this to say about John's work; 'Having just received John Harrisons book On Vegetable Growing Month by Month, I have to say that it’s definitely going to be a well thumbed volume, particularly by those who want to grow vegetables for the first time.

Forget about any glossy pictures, what’s in this book is solid words of advice, written in plain to understand English from a grower who’s had frustrating years of experience behind him in trying to grow nutritious vegetables, whilst at the same time running a business and raising a family.

Everyone will benefit from this book and I found the glossary at the back, which explains gardening terminology in a way that everyone will understand, to be extremely useful. It will certainly have a place on my extensive gardening book shelf.’

John's also penning a series of monthly gardening tips for us; these, coupled with our Kitchen Garden Monthly Updates and Ask the Expert section, should give you all the gardening help you need!