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Welcome to the Allotment Garden Diary

Welcome to my allotment garden diary. Quite simply this is a record of our success and failures growing our own, gardening and trying to live the good life.

John Harrison on Allotment

John Harrison on the allotment plot

A diary is actually a really useful tool for the gardener. It helps you keep track of what worked for you and what didn’t. Often a variety of vegetable that does well in one situation or area will fail to thrive in another, so keeping track of what was planted and where is important.

The weather is important as well, keeping track of when the first and last frosts are in your area helps you plan. Of course the weather varies from year to year but eventually you’ll build up a pattern for your plot. Relying on the weather office isn’t that useful, we’ve seen them saying it’s bright sunshine when we’re under cloud and it’s pouring down.

Another important thing to note is yield and flavour. Yield is obvious but flavour needs a little explanation. I’m convinced that when you grow you’re own your taste changes. A carrot is not just a carrot nor a potato just a chipper or masher. You find flavours that you and your family like.

Incidentally, the flavour of any vegetable doesn’t depend just on the variety but is altered according to where it is grown and the conditions. When you think of wine and those experts saying things like ‘from the chalky slopes on the south side of the vineyard’ it’s not so surprising that a variety of potato grown in one place can taste differently when grown in another and that taste can change depending on the weather.

Our Books on Vegetable Growing

I’ve got 8 published books, which you read more about here: Allotment Garden Books

Vegetable Growing Month by Month

My First Book

My first book, Vegetable Growing Month by Month, is firmly aimed at those starting out but there are a few tips in there that help the experienced grower. The second, The Essential Allotment Guide,  is really for those who want to get or who have an allotment.

The third book, Vegetable, Fruit & Herb Growing in Small Spaces, was based on our experience when we had a completely paved over, concrete garden. It tells how to make a small garden productive as well as decorative and still leave room for the children to have fun in. Even if you just have a patio, there are things you can grow and eat.

 Storing & Preserving Your Produce

If you grow vegetables then you’re certain to be interested in what you eat. Val Harrison shares her favourite  recipes on our recipes pages. You may be surprised at how many sauces & ketchups not to mention chutneys and jams we’ve got great recipes for.

Val & I have written two books on the subject, Easy Jams, Chutneys & Preserves and How to Store Your Home Grown Produce.
Allotment John

Harvesting Sarpo Mira Potatoes

Harvesting Sarpo Mira Potatoes

Grow Lights – Do they work?

Grow Lights – Do they work?

As I start carefully wrapping up my grow lights and put them away for another year in the loft – where they’re safe – I thought I’d answer a few of the questions I often get about grow lights. I

Wonderful Weather on the Plot

Wonderful Weather on the Plot

Some decent weather, well absolutely brilliant for early May and a bank holiday, gave me a chance to really get motoring. It’s been a very slow start to the year, even some of the trees are only just coming into

Strawberries in Hanging Baskets

Strawberries in Hanging Baskets

Well we had a few glorious sunny days. It really felt like the spring had arrived in force. I suppose I should have used the opportunity to catch up with everything but we headed off to the beach with the

Growing Undercover

Growing Undercover

For most people a greenhouse or a polytunnel are a great bonus. They really help the grower but they’re not necessary. Growing where I do, with high winds and rain causing wind chill along with our 200m altitude and exposed

Things go a bit wrong

Things go a bit wrong

I wish I was one of those TV gardeners. Drop the seed in the hole, stand back and cut to a magnificent plant. Unfortunately I’m just human and things go wrong. Plans look great on paper and then the weather

Sowing Peas Indoors A New Method

Sowing Peas Indoors A New Method

Being as we’re having such a cold spring, I thought I’d get my peas started inside. Generally I’ve just sown direct but this year they’ll be very slow to get going outside. I’ve used the length of guttering method before