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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

Floods – the answers in the land

Floods – the answers in the land

Looking at vast areas of the country flooded yet again made me think about what we can do. Some of the answers are in the land. Whatever we do, these extreme weather events are going to carry on. The ‘once

Winter planting, winter harvest, testing the greenhouses

Winter planting, winter harvest, testing the greenhouses

My last post about sweet potatoes went on a bit longer than I intended so this is the rest of the catch-up from the plot. Onions and Garlic I’d planted some garlic and onion sets in the polytunnel just before

Sweet Potato Growing Results

Sweet Potato Growing Results

My first attempt at growing sweet potatoes hasn’t been quite the success I hoped for. Not a complete failure though. I’ve not grown sweet potatoes before. We quite like them occasionally but they’re not a natural for our cool British

You can grow anything, anywhere, anytime.. But

You can grow anything, anywhere, anytime.. But

The good news is that my back strain is much improved but the bad news is that it isn’t 100% yet. I’m walking near normally now but I really felt the strain carrying a watering can to refill the chickens’

Repairs Done, Broad Beans Planted, Back Pulled

Repairs Done, Broad Beans Planted, Back Pulled

The greenhouse vent is fixed, emergency repairs to the polytunnel, over-wintering broad beans planted out but I’ve broken down! The first job was to repair the damaged opening vent in the Vitavia greenhouse. When I realised the vent frame was

Main Greenhouse, Polytunnel

Main Greenhouse, Polytunnel

It’s been one of those weeks. We all have them, plans are made and then something comes up. So I’ve not got much done on the growing front. Being effectively self-employed does, in theory, mean I can control my time