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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

Children & Food

Children & Food

Back in 2005 Jamie Oliver launched his campaign to improve school dinners. Sadly it didn’t have the results he hoped for despite his efforts and the power of national television. One of the episodes, if I recall correctly, had a

Greenhouses Survive Storm Brendan

Greenhouses Survive Storm Brendan

The recent storm Brendan really tested things here. The Eden greenhouse did well behind its windbreaks but the Vitavia nearly went. A pane of glass shattered at the front, opening it up to the wind. My neighbour came down and

Removing Sprouts from Seed Potatoes

Removing Sprouts from Seed Potatoes

The practice of removing all but two or three sprouts from a seed potato to produce larger tubers is well documented in older gardening books. The question is, does it work? It’s certainly accepted as fact by many older growers.

How High to Position Growlights

How High to Position Growlights

Growlights will certainly help you grow very early crops but where should they be placed for maximum benefit? A reader emailed: I have a heated bench. This uses a yellow cable which heats sand and it is successful. Last year

Of Mice & Mould & Merry Christmas!

Of Mice & Mould & Merry Christmas!

We’ve got a mouse problem. You may find it hard to believe in a house with seven cats but we have. It started in the loft when we noticed chewed paper and holes appearing in boxes. Now in fairness to

Keeping Water Clean & Safe

Keeping Water Clean & Safe

With water meters and summer hosepipe bans, collecting and saving rain water for the garden has become a must. Many greenhouses and sheds now boast a water butt, saving rainwater for the dry periods. But there is a problem… Left