Non-Fiction Reviews

Gardening for the Zombie Apocalypse

How to grow your own food when civilization collapses
– or even if it doesn’t

(2019) Isabel Lloyd and Phil Clarke, Head of Zeus, £14.99, trdpbk, 220pp, ISBN 978-1-789-54238-7


As The Police used to sing: “when the world is running down, you make the best of what’s still around”, and considering we are in the middle of global pandemic, with the fallen still to rise; and only a few months away (as I write this) from a non-agreement over Brexit with stories about food shortages and lorries queuing for days, then perhaps a book about gardening during a zombie apocalypse couldn’t be more timely. The dead might not be shambling about, licking their frayed lips at the thought of eating your brains, but surely Lloyd and Clarke have come up with a few tips about gardening in these strange times?

Subtitled “how to grow your own food when civilization collapses – or even if it doesn’t”, this might be a handy book to have when the leader of the armed compound you are living in, turns to you and tells you that you are in charge of growing… stuff! Just Eat aren’t going to deliver and shops and fast food outlets are out of bounds so pick up a trowel in one hand and this book in the other.

Alright, this is basically just a gardening book with a toxic green cover and a few nifty illustrations and zombie asides to the reader including a guide to eight zombie sidekicks that you have in your little group with information about them, their weapons of choice and their chances of survival, ranging from 9 out of 10, to 0 out of 10 – ouch! But don’t worry, even if there is no zombie apocalypse on the horizon, Lloyd and Clarke warn us of other dangers that it’s good to prepare for, including climate change, the rebirth of an ancient and malevolent god, alien invasion, and – jinkies - the uncontrolled escape of a man-made virus which, given the events of 2020, sounds too close for comfort.

Between the rise of the zombies, and other potential devastating events, Lloyd and Clarke promise to show you how to grow the 20 key foods that will keep you alive; help you get kitted out on the seeds and tools front; how to garden when space is tight, so from your back garden to a balcony while the undead pound on the door below, to projects to practise on right now in preparation from the day that the undead rise.

This guide book is split into six sections, starting with what to do when disaster strikes such as gathering the seeds you need, the pots to grow them in and gardening equipment you will use and there is also a guide to what vehicles will help you outrun the zombies and how to prepare right now for things going pear-shaped. Section 2 gives you a guide to some of the fundamentals you will need for any growing to be a success including space, soil, water, shelter and organising your space. Each section usually ends with two things – one related to the zombie apocalypse, so section 2 has a part on good and bad places to grow when the zombies are out; and also an end piece on juicing.

Section 3 is about gardening as war- what you should be growing, and what will hamper your growing including a whole host of critters of the insect variety or larger that will love to feast on whatever you can produce. Section 4 is all about the skills to master to become a good grower, while section 5 is a guide to everything you should be growing, ranging from potatoes to peas; while the final section is about things like pickling and making jams and chutneys.

Whether or not this is actually a good gardening book is a moot point, but it’s an interesting and fun way to sell some gardening tips, and probably the ideal gift for anyone into horror movies, particularly of the zombie variety, and remember spades are not just for digging, they are pretty good at lopping off heads too!

Ian Hunter


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