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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

Study shows using fertilizer increases plant disease

Study shows using fertilizer increases plant disease

I’ve just had an email with the subject line of “John, study shows using fertilizer increases plant disease…” which led me to an article entitled “Fertilizer Destroys Plant Microbiome’s Ability To Protect Against Disease” Now, this obviously grabs a gardener’s

Glyphosate – Should we ban, Can we replace Glyphosate?

Glyphosate – Should we ban, Can we replace Glyphosate?

I’m confused about glyphosate, the active ingredient in herbicides like Roundup. Glyphosate is probably the most used herbicide on the planet. Is it safe? Can we replace it? Glyphosate and Cancer Most growers are aware of the concerns about glyphosate

Free Potatoes, Rejuvenating Rhubarb, Daffodils

Free Potatoes, Rejuvenating Rhubarb, Daffodils

I had a rather nice surprise this year. Behind the brassica tunnel, some potatoes had grown. It’s not unusual to miss a few tubers despite trying hard to get them all at harvest. Well these had grown into really excellent

Chutney, Parsley, Woodchip Compost

Chutney, Parsley, Woodchip Compost

Well it may be autumn but it certainly feels like winter. The max/min thermometer in the polytunnel showing it had dropped to 0.7ºC overnight. And it’s set to get colder as Arctic winds sweep down from the north. I hate

Composting, Leafmould & Soil Improving

Composting, Leafmould & Soil Improving

I seem to be a bit compost obsessed at the moment. One job was to turn the compost in the field bins. I’ve a row of 4 bins one of which is full of finished compost ready to go when

Yes, We Have No Bananas

Yes, We Have No Bananas

Bananas are Britain’s favourite fruit. We import 5 billion bananas a year at a cost of £700 million. But our supplies are under threat due to a fungal disease called Panama Disease. Bananas are a global, traded commodity food. They’re