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Top 5 on Allotments

One of our library staff from Keynsham has reviewed her Top 5 books on ‘Allotments’ from classic to creative

Managing an allotment is becoming ever more popular. Bath and North East Somerset Council run 24 allotment sites, so if our books pique your interest then follow the link to find out more:…/sport-leisure-and-p…/allotments

#1 How To Create A New Vegetable Garden by Charles Dowding (book)

King of the ‘no-dig’ method of gardening, Charles Dowding, has documented different growing methods on his smallholding in Somerset. He starts from scratch: clearing the ground, preparing the soil, building beds, mulching and maintaining paths – all illustrated with many useful photographs. He includes details of time taken and materials used with resulting weights harvested. It is an extremely useful guide to becoming productive in the quickest way, with tables for sowing, planting out and successional growing. It is all in the timing! Having failed numerous times to grow beetroot I used this book and behold, lovely beetroot. If you like a methodical, detailed and informative approach with minimal digging, this is the book for you.

#2 The Allotment Chef: Homegrown Recipes and Seasonal Stories by Paul Merrett (eBook)

Paul Merritt (Michelin star winner, TV presenter and restaurant owner) writes a lively and entertaining account about how his family and 2 friends took on an overgrown and neglected allotment. Paul had rashly committed his family to a ‘greener lifestyle’ and healthier eating (aimed at the children!). His story of dismal winter digging and back injury, paints the tough side but there is also great celebration when the first asparagus shoots show. Browsing the recipes, they look really tempting and as he is a chef, his choice of varieties to grow is worth noting, like ‘Honeoye’ strawberries. I have enjoyed this humorous and relatable book as an antidote to the more serious allotment guides.

#3 New Vegetable Gardening Techniques: Essential Skills and Projects for Tastier, Healthier Crops by Joyce Russell (book)

New techniques! That’s intriguing, so a quick browse reveals 23 projects, from ‘lazy beds for beginners’ to making a comfrey fertiliser press in a down pipe, and a vertical herb and salad garden. I hope to try the last 2 ideas and have planted comfrey this week in preparation. Not for allotment experts, but for those with a smaller space and venturing into grow your own, this book presents some creative ideas and it looks fun!

#4 The Super Organic Gardener: Everything You Need To Know About A Vegan Garden by Matthew Appleby (book)

Beetroot again! This book by Matthew Appleby (Horticulture Week editor, Telegraph gardening) is bang on trend for many who are now vegan and want to grow their own veg while adhering to vegan principals – an even more demanding skill than organic gardening, as no animal manures or fertilisers are allowed. Many vegans are beginner gardeners, so although some of the chapters explaining the science behind vegan growing are complex, the actual gardening instructions are concise and simple. A demanding but informative read

#5 Grow Food for Free by Huw Richards (book)

Huw Richards has been growing his own produce since a young age and has used the YouTube channel (HuwsNursery) to publish interesting videos on his methods. His book, subtitled ‘The Sustainable, Zero-cost, Low-effort way to a Bountiful Harvest’ is new out this year and is the result of a year of growing food in a sustainable low-cost way. He promotes schemes like tool share, barter, recycling and even using someone else’s garden if you don’t have access to any land, all designed to keep the cost down. As Huw has lived this out, he writes in a personal and engaging way.

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