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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

Disaster in the Polytunnel

Disaster in the Polytunnel

You have to be an optimist to garden or farm. We pop seeds in the ground and hope they’ll germinate. Then we hope the weather will be kind – not too hot, not too cold, sunny but with enough rain

Siberian Pea Tree (Siberian Peashrub) – Caragana arborescens

Siberian Pea Tree (Siberian Peashrub) – Caragana arborescens

I’ve just bought some Siberian Peashrub seeds. They’re becoming very popular with permaculture followers. It’s, as the name suggests, a shrub from Siberia that produces pea-like seeds in pods. Like a pea, they’re also a nitrogen fixing plant. The peashrub

Growing Mushrooms

Growing Mushrooms

One of my favourite foods is the mushroom. A rich meaty flavour and chewy texture. Fried mushrooms, mushroom omelette, mushroom in a stew, mushroom soup – so versatile. But growing them is another matter. I’ve read a little on growing

Still Wet, Autumn, Christmas Potatoes

Still Wet, Autumn, Christmas Potatoes

Well after the disappointment of August my hopes for a good September came to nought. We had a few good days but generally it seemed to do nothing but rain. With the best will in the world, some jobs like

Tomato Tip – Future of Food

Tomato Tip – Future of Food

It’s the autumn equinox, the day length being equal to the night. The official start of autumn. From now on the the nights will be longer than the day, the days growing shorter until the winter solstice when things start

Globe Artichokes & Wet Weather

Globe Artichokes & Wet Weather

Well we’re two thirds of the way through September and the the weather continues to be against us. Often September is one of the best months here but not this year. We’re getting the odd good day but that’s about