I’m Richard Chivers, an allotment gardening blogger and grow your own enthusiast.
It’s strange to think but before 2007 I had no interest allotments. In fact, I had very little interest in gardening.
Nowadays, I can’t imagine being without the allotment and feeling as passionate about it as I do.
My grandfather was a market gardener. Even in retirement, he turned all of their back gardens over to rows of vegetables. I spent every other Sunday at their home, playing next to the beds of vegetables with my brother and cousins and eating a home cooked Sunday lunch that boasted all the veg from the garden.
Despite this regular interaction with all that veg, growing your own didn’t rub off on me. Not then.
Growing my own started with a packet of tomato seeds, a pot and a tiny back yard and emerged from my passion for cooking.
Through cooking, I learned a key lesson. It’s not the complexity of a recipe that makes for an excellent dish but the ingredients that are used to make it.
One year, in early spring I sowed a few tomato seeds and with little knowledge or experience, I waited to see what would happen. What followed became an obsession.
In 2007, Carol Klein presented a 6 part series on the BBC – Grow your own veg. The series arrived at the right time. My passion for growing my own had developed further and when this programme arrived on the TV, I was hooked.
I placed my name on the local allotment list and bought the book accompanying the series.
I’ve had an allotment, in various guises, for nine years. For many reasons, the plots didn’t last. However, in April 2015 I took on my current plot and I’ve never felt so settled.
Like most families, we have busy working lives and it’s easy to understand that the thought of taking on an allotment can be daunting. However, I genuinely believe it’s possible to manage the daily life and keep up with an allotment garden too.
I started sharpenyourspades.com around the same time as I began work on the allotment. It originated as a way to document my progress and clarify my thoughts on growing my own.
It’s come a long way since then – as well as an allotment diary, I write articles on all matters of allotment gardening and growing your own. I’ve become as passionate about the blog as I am about the allotment.
Writing is a key part of my learning. I’m not a horticulturist and have no formal training. I’m just passionate about growing my own fruit and veg. I hope in some way it means I’m able to provide a different perspective on allotment gardening.
I use organic principles. It has its frustrations but it’s also fun experimenting. It’s satisfying to get results without resorting to chemical management and control of the food we eat.
After reading the books written by Charles Dowding, I decided to move to a no-dig approach on the allotment. You can read all about that transition in this article.
My six-year-old daughter, Ava, spends a lot of time with me on the allotment. She loves it. It’s wonderful seeing her excited about the crops we grow together. I want her to have a relationship with food, understand where it comes from and be thrilled eating it. I hope I can inspire others to join us in the great adventure of allotment gardening.