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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

Reinvigorating Your Soil

Reinvigorating Your Soil

When moving house or taking on a new plot, often the soil is in poor condition – depleted nutrients and lack of humus creating a poor growing environment. What to do to improve things and reinvigorate the soil. Drainage The

Growing Leeks

Growing Leeks

Well the weather is switching between high summer and winter, the weeds are growing and the slugs attacking in force. You don’t have to be mad to be a gardener, but it helps! A bit on the leeks. Leeks Earlier

Winning and Losing

Winning and Losing

After a blistering hot and very dry spring, summer arrives with clouds and rain. And with the rain, hordes of ravening slugs and snails appear along with a fantastic flush of weeds! I’d planted some climbing French beans on teepees

Coping with Pandemic Effects on Food Supply

Coping with Pandemic Effects on Food Supply

One of the effects of this pandemic that is sweeping the world is to disrupt our food production and distribution systems. I’m not talking about the silly panics over loo paper that we saw when this started. That was purely

Taking Stock of the Plots

Taking Stock of the Plots

We’re starting to harvest seriously now, despite things going off track this year. I never thought my back strain causing acute sciatica would last for as long as it did for starters. Then as that problem eased the plague arrived,

New Brassica Cage

New Brassica Cage

I’ve seen a few butterflies recently. Pretty as they are, wings a fluttering, I can’t say the cabbage white is a welcome visitor. They’re delivering their load of eggs which, hidden below a leaf, will hatch a plague of voracious