My collection of Haynes Manuals is a history of second-hand cars I have owned all the way up to my present rust bucket. A teetering pile of broken backed books all redolent of brake fluid with text partially obscured by oily fingerprints and I love them. They solved many a problem and saved me a lot of money.

Of course today’s cars are all but lost to the home mechanic, being a tangle of electronics that can only be replaced, not repaired. So it’s no wonder that Haynes have taken their well-deserved good name and started applying it to subjects other than cars and one such example is the Home Grown Vegetable Manual.

Growing your own veg is something very in tune with the times – not only is it a cost-cutting exercise it’s a true source of foode pleasure too. You control what goes into your diet, you get to enjoy eating seasonally (you have no choice), you try unusual vegetables not seen in the supermarkets and you get a lot of healthy outdoor exercise, which is a lot better than pumping some piece of machinery in an overpriced gym. Getting down to earth isn’t as simple as getting out a spade though; you need a plan of attack and a reference manual you can rely on.

This is that manual starting off with a chapter on selecting your site, including taming a new allotment, and which moves on to testing your soil type, getting your tools together and learning essential techniques such as composting, crop rotation and protection, weed control and harvesting and storing. Then comes the A-Z of vegetables so that whatever you fancy growing, you’ll find specific instructions as well as dos and don’ts. Well written, copiously illustrated and an essential reference work it has all you need to know in one sensibly sized book. As an allotment holder of some years, I found myself nodding in agreement all the way through as author Steve Ott passed on many tips and tricks it’s taken me years to discover. Experienced grower or novice on the plot, this is essential reading to get you growing strongly this year.