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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

Using Woodchips in Allotment & Garden

Using Woodchips in Allotment & Garden

This email from a newsletter reader raises the question of how best to use woodchips on an allotment. Woodchips are a really useful resource but you need to use them properly for best effect. On my allotment we have access

Tomato Glut, Comfrey Cut & Time for Bed

Tomato Glut, Comfrey Cut & Time for Bed

Blight hits the outdoor tomatoes but we’ve a glut from the greenhouse crop. The comfrey bed is cut for the compost heap. Putting the raised beds to sleep. Outdoor Tomatoes I thought I was going to get a big crop

I thought I had it tough!

I thought I had it tough!

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet” – Helen Keller Like most gardeners I’m never really happy with the weather, a few sunny days and and we want rain or a

Tomatoes Galore – 2018 Tomato Crop Results So Far

Tomatoes Galore – 2018 Tomato Crop Results So Far

The tomato crop is still coming in but the results are fairly clear for 2018. This year I’ve grown 7 varieties; in the greenhouse, polytunnel and outdoors. Tomatoes in the Greenhouse Tomato Ailsa Craig The tomatoes are ripening thick and

Sacrificial or stale seed beds

Sacrificial or stale seed beds

One of the big benefits claimed for no-dig growing is that the system reduces weed pressure as buried seeds aren’t brought to the surface by cultivation. There certainly is some truth in that but I don’t think it’s quite as

Better Germinating Seeds!

Better Germinating Seeds!

I get a lot of emails about seeds not germinating. It’s almost impossible to pin down what has gone wrong. There are legal standards for seed quality so it’s a good bet that the seeds were OK when they left