Joy Larkom - Gardening Wisdom and Inspiration

Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Jun 4
6 min read
bubble 0
woman holding a basket of freshly harvested vegetables
Written By Lara Wadsworth

Early Inspiration

Have you ever wondered what it takes to revolutionize gardening? Me neither… until I learned about Joy Larkcom. I had no idea that vegetable gardening had been revolutionized in such recent history. Isn't this how we have always done it? Nope! Larkom introduced new varieties, techniques, perspectives, and educational content to the world of gardening that are now used globally. How did she do it?

Joy Larkom grew up in England, where her journey into gardening started in a somewhat indirect fashion. Initially, Joy worked as a journalist, a career that utilized her strong writing and research skills. Her shift toward horticulture wasn't triggered by a traditional gardening background or formal training in the field; rather, it stemmed from her innate curiosity and personal interest in growing food. In the late 1970s, she and her husband embarked on a transformative journey in a campervan, visiting various countries and exploring local agriculture and gardening techniques. She dubbed this adventure “The Grand Vegetable Tour”.

The Joy of Gardening

Have you heard of the cut-and-come-again method of salad green harvesting. Yes, you read that right. What salad gardener these days hasn’t heard of this method? It may seem obvious, but the many ways of gardening from around the world haven’t always been so easy to learn about as they are now. Joy Larkom discovered market gardeners in Italy employing the cut-and-come-again strategy during her travels across Europe. By plucking just the outer leaves and letting the rest keep growing, gardeners could get way more bang for their buck out of each plant. The technique intrigued her because of the efficiency and sustainability it affords. She brought back the idea to the UK, where she began to advocate for and popularize it through her writing and public speaking.

During her grand adventure across Europe with her husband, Joy discovered a whole smorgasbord of veggies and herbs that go beyond the common ones back home in Britain. She didn’t just enjoy these during her travels; she brought seeds back, grew them herself, and then shared her findings through her writing. Her books, like "Creative Vegetable Gardening" and "Grow Your Own Vegetables," are almost like the gardeners' bibles, packed with wisdom on growing food that’s both delicious and downright beautiful.

Joy also stood firm on the front lines of organic gardening, pushing for methods that are kind to our planet. Through her engaging talks, books, articles, and TV appearances, she inspired countless people to dig their hands into the soil and plant something special. Today, her legacy continues to sprout in gardens across the globe, encouraging new generations to embrace gardening that’s both productive and sustainable.

Growing Green

Joy Larkom was the first horticulturist that I came to connect with and admire. Her writing style spoke to me, and her gardening techniques were inspiring. The first book that I read of hers was Oriental Vegetables, which I purchased and studied as I helped True Leaf Market to learn about the Asian varieties now available for purchase from our Kitazawa Seed Co. brand. Some of those plants I had never even heard of before. Still, the joy with which she wrote about simple salad greens was eye-opening.



I became enthralled with what she was writing about and how she gathered all the information. I wanted to know more about her and how I could be like her. I then eagerly purchased Just Vegetating, her memoir describing how she got started in the business and her many travels around the world to learn about various vegetables and how to grow them. Her descriptions of the characters she met from Belgium to Japan were hysterical and warm-hearted. I felt like I was there with her family, traveling in that tiny camper van.

Through her books she encouraged me to pursue horticultural writing. Just a few years ago, I had no idea this specialty even existed and now I feel like I finally found my career. Joy showed me what is possible. I do not, however, feel quite as adventurous as her. I don’t know that I would leave home and travel for months at a time. I appreciate the flexibility it affords me as a new mother and gardener though.

Harvesting Wisdom

Enough about me, Joy’s books have encouraged people around the globe to garden organically. Knowledge and experience are so important that when push comes to shove, that’s all it comes down to. Joy provides a springboard into gardening through her books. She traveled the world learning about vegetable gardening, so you don’t have to!

Growing one’s own food and becoming, even partially, self-sufficient are empowering skills that pretty much everyone can benefit from. As inflation rises and prices of healthy foods are skyrocketing, growing food is an invaluable asset. Getting started does not have to feel overwhelming. Simply pick a few of your favorite vegetables and follow our quick and to the point vegetable grow guide. You too can grow your own garden and feed yourself and your family healthy food. Trust me when I say, if I can do it, you can do it too!

Joy Larkom’s gardening philosophy offers a treasure trove of inspiration for the average home gardener. By integrating unusual and heirloom varieties into your garden, you not only enrich your dining table with unique flavors and textures but also contribute to plant diversity and ecological health. Implementing organic practices like composting, using natural pest control, and rotating crops can help maintain a healthy garden ecosystem, promoting biodiversity while reducing chemical use. By embracing Joy Larkom's principles, home gardeners can enjoy more productive, sustainable, and interesting gardens. Her work shows us that with a little creativity and ecological awareness, gardening can be a deeply rewarding venture that contributes to personal well-being and the planet's health.

Lara Wadsworth, True Leaf Market Writer

I am a native of Southwestern Michigan, where I also reside, and I love all things plants! I got a Bachelor's Degree in Horticulture and found the first work-from-home job I could get. Now, I spend my days writing for TLM, playing with my dog, eating delicious food with my husband, and plotting my next landscape or gardening move. I believe everyone should get down and dirty in the soil now and then. Happy Gardening!

Become a True Leaf Market Brand Ambassador! You’ll enjoy awesome perks, free products and exclusive swag & offers! Help us create a gardening revolution and help others experience the joy of growing!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

0 Comments

No Comments yet! Be the first to start a conversation

  1. Masanobu Fukuoka - Sustainability and SimplicityJapanese man tending to a rice field

    Masanobu Fukuoka - Sustainability and Simplicity

    Written By Lara Wadsworth Picture yourself in the serene Japanese countryside. The sun is warm but not too hot, the birds are chirping happily in a nearby forest and it rained last night so everything is lively and green. You’re standing on a hillside ...


    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    2024-06-08
    6 min read
    bubble 0
  2. The Top 5 Anti-Aging Microgreens5 Anti-aging microgreens

    The Top 5 Anti-Aging Microgreens

    Written By Lara Wadsworth The health and beauty marketing teams of today want us to fear aging and play off of our natural fears to make us buy various serums, creams, etc. To be fair, it is scary to notice new wrinkles, fall asleep on the couch at 10p...


    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    2024-06-04
    6 min read
    bubble 1
  3. A Rainy Day Revelation: Discovering Piet Oudolf's Belle Isle Garden in DetroitConservatory in the fall at Belle Isle Garden in Detroit

    A Rainy Day Revelation: Discovering Piet Oudolf's Belle Isle Garden in Detroit

    Written By Lara Wadsworth When I was tasked with writing an article about Piet Oudolf a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what I was getting into! I remember learning about the internationally renowned landscape designer as a college student in my horticult...


    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    2024-05-28
    7 min read
    bubble 0
  4. Piet Oudolf: Embracing the Naturalistic Gardenquaking grass perennial

    Piet Oudolf: Embracing the Naturalistic Garden

    Written By Lara Wadsworth Piet Oudolf is a world renowned Dutch garden designer. His designs are focused on a naturalistic approach to enjoy the ever changing beauty offered by plants in their various stages of life. His designs have played a role in t...


    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    2024-05-21
    7 min read
    bubble 0