I have a large collection of gardening books. Seriously, combined with my cooking books, they pretty much occupy the two floor to ceiling bookshelves built into the alcoves in our dining room. However, I want to breakdown the absolute essentials. These are my gardening go-to books. They are read multiple times every single year.
Monty Don has, through his writing, provided me with endless inspiration. I have most of his books but the two I recommend the most are The Ivington Diaries and the Jewel Garden. There is practical knowledge to be gained from these books, but the real treasure from reading these books is passion. Monty’s passion oozes out of the pages. If I’m feeling unmotivated, low or uninspired, a few pages provides the medicine that has me diving out the door and reaching for the soil.
Garlic is such an important crop for me to grow on the allotment. I use it in the kitchen every single week, if not every single day. I stumbled across Robin Cherry’s book Garlic, an edible biography, and it made me fall more in love with the pungent bulb. I read it for it’s passion, its story, its insightful growing advice and its recipes.
Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty transformed the way I grow vegetables. No dig has become the greatest change I’ve made on my allotment in the years of growing my own. All of Charles’ books are wonderful but the two I read every year are Organic Gardening the natural no dig way and Salad leaves for all seasons. I’ve never found gardening so easy, to plentiful and pleasurable since using Charles’ approach. Steph has provided me with endless support, encouragement and friendship. And through her writing, such as No dig Organic home and garden, she inspires me to use what I grow in the kitchen too.
Joy Larkcom is a pioneer in vegetable gardening. I wish I’d discovered her work earlier on. A few years ago, I read Grow your Own vegetables and I was amazed by the sheer amount of advice, skills and practical techniques. Highly recommended.
Finally, Back garden seed saving is a book I bought earlier this year. It has demystified seed saving. Trust me, this book will make you powerful.
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January is always a fresh start. This year feels like we need one more than ever. I feel motivated to grow things when New Year’s Day begins and this is often where the frustration creeps in. It’s a slow progression into the new year and as gardeners, it can feel painfully slow. I’ve learned to fight the urge to sow anything in January. The low level of light and cold temperatures mean sowing anything this month requires heat and artificial light. It requires more of our attention and anything you grow now will always be caught up by later sowings. Personally, I don’t see the benefit of this additional resource. It is much better to do the jobs that will provide a real benefit to you when spring arrives and everything jumps into life and the jobs quickly pile up.
Continue reading “What to do at the allotment in January”
This has been an incredible year. The pandemic has affected every single one of us across the world. There have been awful moments with many losing family members and friends and suffering the consequences of a crushed economy. It has been a year that has forced many of us to look at our lives and our society through a different lens. Despite so many restrictions being placed on us, and having to isolate to protect our families and the NHS, it feels that many of us have become closer connected – supportive to our communities and aware of our actions on the environment.
Continue reading “New Year Resolutions”
What a difference a month makes.
I wrote my March allotment jobs on the cusp of the Coronavirus Crisis. In the space of four weeks, the world has become a different place. Continue reading “Allotment Jobs for April”
Two years ago, March began in the midst of the Beast for the East. Bitterly cold weather, heavy snow and blizzards combined with Storm Emma and created some of the most difficult weather the UK had experienced for years. Continue reading “Allotment jobs for March”
February is a month that both excites and frustrates me as a gardener. Daylight is reaching a crucial number of hours this month, some seeds can be sown but it’s important to remember it’s still winter.
Continue reading “Allotment Jobs for February”
The garden is quiet. In my mind’s eye, January is a dark, wet and bare month. However, I have learned that when you look or when you build a relationship with nature (as we do as gardeners) the reality is there is some colour to be found in the middle of winter and there is always life. Continue reading “Allotment Jobs for January”
It’s the end of the school summer holidays. Having an allotment is not just about growing food. It’s certainly a place to occupy children during the six-week break. However, if you embrace your plot and the community of people that come together at your allotment site you find they offer so much more.
(Note: There are some affiliate links in this post, which means you can click on them to buy. If you do, I may get a small fee. It doesn’t affect the price you pay.) Continue reading “Allotment jobs for September”
The memory of last July is seared into my mind. Recalled through a painful cringe.
Continue reading “Allotment Jobs for July”
I haven’t always been a gardener.
My good friend Andrew O’Brien recently invited me for a brief chat on the latest episode of his beautiful podcast and he asked me about my gardening. Has it always been there? When did it begin? Continue reading “When gardening took hold”