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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

Losing the Plot (as in My Marbles)

Losing the Plot (as in My Marbles)

September is turning out to be quite nice, better than August. Just a tip, if you’re fancying a break in Wales or anywhere on the west coast September is a good bet for decent weather. Which is why it is

Pumpkins & Squashes

Pumpkins & Squashes

Back in July I decided to start bringing some more land into production for next year using a sort of permaculture method. Since I don’t like wasting resources and land is perhaps the most important resource we have, I decided

Tomatoes, Experiments & Cucumbers Galore

Tomatoes, Experiments & Cucumbers Galore

I’m still being cautious after the cataract surgery – last thing I want to do is set back the surgeon’s fantastic work. But a little careful time in the greenhouse. Harvesting some exceptional tomatoes and cucumbers, results of a couple

A Little Knowledge

A Little Knowledge

As the saying goes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Worse than that is plain misinformation and sadly there’s a lot of that doing the rounds. Chilli Growing I was recently contacted by a reader who had gone to

Soilfixer 1,000 litre compost bin report

Soilfixer 1,000 litre compost bin report

I’m trialling the Soilfixer 1,000 litre compost bin which is from the same person, Tony Callaghan, who invented the Hotbin which I have. It’s 5 times the capacity of the 200 litre Hotbin and aimed at handling garden waste rather

Great Weather – Greenhouse Sorting

Great Weather – Greenhouse Sorting

It’s nearly a fortnight since I had my cataract operation and the weather is lovely so I just couldn’t resist doing a few jobs. I’m being very careful, all the same. No straining – I don’t want my eyeball to