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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

Soft Rushes – Gardener’s Observations

Soft Rushes – Gardener’s Observations

I had an email from Karen Wise who grows at altitude ‘halfway up a mountain’ in West Wales. She has cleared an ex-forestry plot which is now a mixture of regenerated woodland, meadow, fruit trees, flower beds and her allotment.

Merry Tiller – It Lives!

Merry Tiller – It Lives!

I can’t remember the last time I used my Merry Tiller rotavator. I think it’s approaching two years now. The reason being that it’s quite heavy and my back went. Happily the back is now a lot better, although not

Tree in the Power Line

Tree in the Power Line

Saturday was rather dramatic here. There were high winds hammering us and driving horizontal rain. At points it was hammering on the windows and threatening to overwhelm the gutters. The greenhouses were secured as far as I’m able so there

Spring is Near, Garlic, Shallots & Good News

Spring is Near, Garlic, Shallots & Good News

As we enter what feels like the millionth year of lockdown, little things that normally would hardly register take on greater significance. Heading out to the compost bin via the back path I realised how things were coming back to

Too Cold! Planted Garlic – Not Sowing

Too Cold! Planted Garlic – Not Sowing

It may be freezing cold now but a busy time beckons for the second part of February. It’s too cold out there! The Beast from The East 2 cold snap hasn’t brought us any snow for my grandson to play

Moles, Mice and Strawberries

Moles, Mice and Strawberries

Molehills magically appear overnight, planting strawberries in hanging baskets and a pesky mouse causes trouble This year I’ve seen a lot of molehills appear. I like to think it’s a sign of the soil improving here and the number of