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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

Mushrooms, Increasing Production, Potatoes

Mushrooms, Increasing Production, Potatoes

I’m preparing a new bed for next year’s potatoes and we seem to have a lot of mushrooms growing around the place. Upping our production and why. I’ve always fancied growing mushrooms seriously but my “toe in the water” tries

Super Sarpo Seed Potato Offer

Super Sarpo Seed Potato Offer

I’ve been growing Sarpo potatoes for 15 years now. They’re high-yielding, easy and above all blight resistant varieties. One bad blight year, the only potatoes still thriving on the entire allotment site was my Sarpo Mira crop. Perfect for organic

Hexafly – Irish Fly Farming!

Hexafly – Irish Fly Farming!

We’ve always associated Ireland with farming, dairy and potatoes being what leaps to mind. Soon, we may be associating Ireland with another sort of farming, black soldier flies. It sounds a bit weird to say the least but it actually

Does Biochar Work?

Does Biochar Work?

As we reach the end of the year, I’m looking at the effects of using biochar as a soil amendment. I’m happy to say that the initial rush of sales for my new book is slowing. Obviously I’m really pleased

Wind, Woodchips and Weeds

Wind, Woodchips and Weeds

As I write this I’m sitting in my office where the window looks out onto the Eden greenhouse. The wind is gusting quite strongly and I can see the windbreak fencing shaking. The palisade fencing doesn’t stop the wind from

Dig for Victory Book, New Shop, Lockdown

Dig for Victory Book, New Shop, Lockdown

We’re very busy here as the Dig for Victory book is finally on our shelf. It’s all hands to the pumps, time. When the wagon backed up the drive – and that was a brilliant bit of driving with only