Skip to main content

Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs: A Review


The latest book by Emma Cooper, Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs (Smashwords, May, 2014), combines two of her favorite topics: gardening and unusual edibles. Cooper, author of four unique gardening books – The Allotment Pocket Bible (Crimson Publishing, 2011), The Alternative Kitchen Garden (Permanent Publications, 2009), Growing Vegetables is Fun! (Dennis Publishing, 2008), and the audiobook The Peat Free Diet (Emma Cooper, 2012) – is an established author and expert in her field. The recent addition of a Master of Science in Ethnobotany deepens what she is able to share on her website and helped spur Jade Pearls into existence.

Cooper states in her introduction that Jade Pearls is meant to inform and inspire gardeners everywhere to try growing unusual edibles. Many are perennials, which makes them easy to incorporate into forest gardens, regular landscape schemes, or anywhere a gardener might want to have a reliable feature. She begins with a short history of global plant movement (from Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt up to modern day plant research in space) that sets the stage for how the unusual edibles later profiled made their way to the gardeners she introduces in subsequent chapters. Even if one is not a farmer like me, the stories are fascinating.

Likewise, the growers she introduces – a mix of amateur and professional (including yours truly) – are as captivating. Some, like me, grow for fun and by accident (plants given as gifts or normal for the new place we find ourselves living) while others (like Owen Smith at Radix Root Crops) research how to grow these plants out of concern for a changing climate or as a solution to other environmental worries. Regardless, there is plenty to learn and inspire. Cooper provides plenty of links to websites, books, and articles making her Jade Pearls an ideal springboard for searching out more information on how to grow some of these lovelies on your own.

Like any good gardening book should, Jade Pearls had me jotting down additions to the list of things I want to read (Stephen Barstow's Around the World in 80 Plants springs to mind) and the list of plants I want to grow (mung beans and the Japanese wine berry) this year or next. It also has me thinking more deeply about perennial edibles native to Japan that could be incorporated into my new garden here in Kanagawa. One minor drawback was the lack of photos (Cooper says she prefers to avoid photos as it forces readers to do some of their own homework. Read more of her thoughts on that next week when she visits as part of her virtual book tour.) It is, though, by no means a deal breaker. Jade Pearls is a very welcome addition to my library and even though it's in electronic form, I expect it soon to be well-thumbed.

by Emma Cooper
Available for preview and pre-order at Smashwords
Officially available on May 1st


Look for an extended interview with Emma next week along with a reading as part of her virtual book tour. Check out the whole calendar for even more fun!

Comments

Emma said…
Thank you so much for posting a review :) I'm looking forward to stopping by soon as part of my virtual book tour!
You're most welcome, Emma! Thanks for such an engaging and informative read.

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro