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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

Potting On, Salad Planter, Lights & Bustaseed

Potting On, Salad Planter, Lights & Bustaseed

After some really pleasant weather the jet stream has twisted around and cold frozen air from Santa’s lair is pouring down over the UK. Bitter winds and snow flurries. I’ve got all the first batch of tomatoes potted on and

Mrs. T. And Her Cabbage Patch

Mrs. T. And Her Cabbage Patch

A poem from 1941 and a short film I’d like to share. I hope you enjoy it as I did. “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” L P Hartley Mrs. Turner, called Mrs. T. Cooks

Spuds and Strawberries

Spuds and Strawberries

The weather is pretty fair for the time of year and I’m trying to make good use of it. After what seemed like an endless winter, it’s wonderful to see the auto-vents opening up the greenhouses when I look out

More Sowing, Update

More Sowing, Update

It’s been a busy week, so a quick catch-up as to where things stand. Clocks go forward tonight so an extra evening hour to play out! Potatoes showing in polytunnel The potatoes are finally breaking the surface, way behind what

Sowing in the Potting Shed

Sowing in the Potting Shed

I’m running behind this year but not critically. I’m still in time to get things started even if some things like tomatoes will be a little delayed. Often the improved conditions later in the year means that late starting doesn’t

Preparation & Potato Planting

Preparation & Potato Planting

A busy and productive weekend as spring officially arrived with the Equinox, one of the four defining events of the growing year. Even had some reasonable weather to mark it. Up in the walled vegetable garden the brassica tunnel has