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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

White Beetroot amongst the red beets – What Causes White Beetroots?

White Beetroot amongst the red beets – What Causes White Beetroots?

Sometimes a simple question, like this one about white beetroot appearing amongst the red beets, opens up an interesting topic. Understanding why white beetroot are appearing from a packet of red Boltardy Beetroot seeds takes us into how we breed

Brexit Blues

Brexit Blues

I try and avoid politics in my blog. Generally they’re irrelevant to allotmenting and gardening and anything I say is bound to offend someone. But I’m going to break my golden rule a bit now. After yesterday’s rejection of the

Cataract – Here we go Again!

Cataract – Here we go Again!

I’ve been diagnosed with another cataract – so my right eye will have a bionic lens soon. Even the Six Million Dollar Man only had one bionic eye as I recall. I say ‘soon’ but last time it took 18

Metaldehyde Slug Pellet Ban Announced – Slug Killing Options Now

Metaldehyde Slug Pellet Ban Announced – Slug Killing Options Now

The main constituent in conventional slug pellets, metaldehyde, is to be banned in 2020 announced Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment. The reason cited is an unacceptable risk to wildlife. Metaldehyde based slug pellets will be withdrawn from

Largest Yield from One Seed Potato Competition

Largest Yield from One Seed Potato Competition

It’s an old competition on allotment sites – who can get the biggest yield from a single seed potato? It may have started in the second world war or even before, certainly it was common in the 1950’s. The secretary

Winter Solstice – Merry Christmas

Winter Solstice – Merry Christmas

Well we’re at the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year, Midwinter or Yule, which has always been one of the most important dates in the gardening calendar. The other being the Summer Solstice or Midsummer’s Day. One tells