About Claire’s Allotment

After nearly three years of posting allotment and gardening videos on Youtube, my husband suggested that I take the things I witter on about when he comes home from work and put them into a blog.

I’ve also published three children’s books about two sisters, Lottie and Dottie, who discover how to grow Sunflowers, Carrots and Pumpkins.

And I have a series of eBooks for gardeners called Claire’s Allotment Essentials. The first, POTATOES, is available in Kindle now.

I’m hoping that we can all share hints, tips and our gardening triumphs on this blog, and if you want regular updates and FREE eBook, please sign-up to my newsletter.

Happy gardening!

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146 Responses to About Claire’s Allotment

  1. Kieran says:

    Hi Claire!
    I am really struggling for space in my back garden plot, I have loads of leeks and onions that need to be planted as its now June, I have only 2 large containers and loads of tiny ones. and I’m trying to avoid digging up another plot as a last resort any tips for improvised containers that look nice? thanks!
    Kieran

    • Hi Kieran,
      Your could try hanging basket, onions and leeks don’t need to go down that far. Any container will do, just make sure you put holes in the bottom of the containers to let the water drain through. If you have a shed it was suggested to me to attach guttering and plant in that, lettuce, peas, anything that has shallow roots and isn’t heavy. If you’ve got an old wheelbarrow, watering can, sink, they’ll be deep enough to grown carrots in. Old boots you could grow a courgette in.
      Hope that’s give you some ideas, don’t forget car tyres.
      Claire

  2. Teresa says:

    Hi Claire

    I found you on Youtube when I wanted info on planting Broad Beans and I’ve since watched lots of your videos. They have really helped me with the planting up of our allotment which we took on in February. The beans are doing well with lots of flowers and as of yesterday our first mini pod! Great to see you now have a blog, look forward to following you here also!
    Best wishes
    Teresa

  3. I have followed all of your vids and wait eagerly for the next installment. I am really going to enjoy you having this blog as well. I don’t have an allotment but tend to think of my back yard…solid clay and granite with most of it bricks and bitumen as ‘my allotment’. As you know I am in Tasmania Australia so always like to chuckle to myself that you are doing the experimenting before me…season wise…for me to benefit when Spring comes round here in September. I have learnt lots from your pracitcal guidance. Thanks Claire and All the Best.
    Shirley/Sadia102

  4. orchardmummy says:

    Hi Claire, I have been watching your videos on Youttube since we got our allotment in March. It is great to actually watch how to do things instead of just reading about them in a book. And you explain things very simply, which is the best thing of all. Keep up the good work!
    Kind regards
    Claire!

  5. Sprout says:

    Nice to see some one with so much enthusiasm for allotment gardening and growing their own veg.
    The videos are fantastic, I’m sure lots of new veg growers owe their success to your YouTube channel.
    The blog is looking good, I’m sure it will be a great success.
    Cheers,
    Sprout.

    • Hi Sprout,
      Thank you for your kind words. Gardening is so much fun, hard work, but fun and the results you get from all your hard labours are just wonderful.
      Claire

      • 68laurap says:

        hi i think you should be on TV i love your videos keep it up.
        i started veg growin last year in my small garden and i just love it. thanks for all the tips

      • Hi there,
        Fingers crossed I will be on TV very soon. I’m keeping quiet about it though, as the way this year has panned out so far, something’s bound to go wrong. When it gets closer to the date then I’ll announce it on the Blog.
        Hope you have a great year and any questions just ask.
        Claire

  6. Abi says:

    Hi Claire,

    I subscribed to your Yt channel a while ago and enjoy your videos. I garden at home because the counsil refuse to provide any allotments, dispite the law. Hart Council – just to name and shame them. I am lucky that I do have a big enough garden but I do love the whole social thing of allotments.
    My biggest failing is getting out regularly and maintaining what I have planted. I have a huge weed problem and often lose harvests just because I forgot to check. I do still get quite a bit though. My aim for the next growing season is to get out more & keep the weeds in check. This isn’t going to be easy as my 4th baby is due in May and I don’t do well when I am pregnant. I will just have to try harder. You will be my inspiration , hope you don’t mind!

    • Hi Abi,
      Wow 4 children! I put my foot down as soon as the 2nd one arrived. I hope you a a wonderful rest of your pregnancy. The advise I’d give to you on weeds is once you’ve weeded a section thoroughly put some rotten leaves or manure on the soil, if you can’t get hold of either of those strips of cardboard. This will keep the weeds at bay longer. Start small and when you’ve got that under control create more room for more vegetables. Weeding before the seed heads have formed is a real battle because some take ages to seed, but others seed with in days. Try and get your other children to help with the weeding at the weekend. Start them young.
      Good luck and I hope all goes well,
      Claire

  7. Iain Surman says:

    Hi Claire

    I have a book full of hints and tips on allotment gardening called Allotment Source Book. Would you be interested in it? I can send it to you free of charge if you are willing to review it and offer a discount to your blog members.

    Please email me if you are interested.

    Regards

    Iain Surman
    iain.surman@lovelljohns.com

  8. Pingback: 2010 in review | Clairesallotment's Blog

  9. VALERIE says:

    HELLO,

    there are 2 years that i living in london and i got a little garden with my flatmats and my boy friend.
    last year in the end of may i decided to do garden and grow my veg. i know it was a bit late.but i succed to have few veg.
    this year i wanted to do nice things, but already i couldn’t manage to put my horsemanure in the fall( no car too big for the bus).
    now i got farmyard manure from my local DIY.i think it’s well roted manure.
    CAN I PUT NOW IN MY GARDEN?
    thank you i love you so much

    • Hi Valerie,
      Welcome the the addictive world of gardening! May isn’t too late, there’s still loads of seeds that can go in. In January you can prepare the soil for Spring. If the manure is well rotted (should be dark brown) then put a thin layer on the soil and fork it in. As for starting to sow, the following can be put in the ground in January – Jerusalem Artichokes. Started inside – Leeks, some Cauliflowers, some Tomatoes and some Aubergines (egg plant). And in February in the ground – Parsnips, some Radish and Broad Beans. Started inside – Globe Artichokes, Kohl Rabi, Cucumbers, some Chillies and some Melons. Hope that gives you something to be getting on with. I’m not suggesting you grow it all, start with a few things 1 year, then add to your selection each year.
      Have fun,
      Claire

  10. Brian Cosper says:

    Claire,

    What a thrill it was to discover your youtube videos today. You have a vibrant passion for gardening and sharing the excitement with others. May you be blessed.

    Brian Cosper

    • Hi Brian,
      I’m so glad you find the videos helpful. Gardening is such fun, it amazes me every year how it all grows from those tiny seeds. I get so excited when the seedlings start to pop through the compost.
      Hope you have a great year.
      Claire

  11. Maj says:

    Hi Claire,

    I have been viewing your Youtube video recently and I have to say for a newbie, they’re great. Thank you for all your hardwork in producing the material. From the videos, can I ask is it recommended that one invests in a greenhouse. We are only starting out and have never done anything like this before. I see from your videos, you use the greenhouse to get all you seeds going, as it where. Any advice will be greatly appreciated

    • Hi there,
      I hope that your vegetable growing is going really well so far, and I’m glad that you find the videos useful. As for the greenhouse, it’s entirely up to you whether you get a greenhouse or not. Now I’ve got one I don’t know how I did without it for so long. Just be aware that if you get one that small children and glass don’t mix. Think about how much space you have. Mine is 6 x 6 feet, which is just big enough for me. If I had more space I’d have gone for a 6 x 8. Don’t go for the cheap ones that don’t work. You’ll have to spend about £250 for a good one. Don’t get wooden frame, get aluminium. Look at the review on line and also look in store to check the size. It needs to be on a solid base, so be prepared to do a bit of concreting. It’s a big investment, but well worth it, as the seeds will do much better.
      I hope that helps.
      All the best,
      Claire

  12. Hi Claire,
    Just had to say I love your website, particularly the scarecrow making video. This is proving really useful for my nervous school workshop helpers who will be running the Minchinhampton Scarecrow Trail with me this summer. Have a look at what we’re up to on our two websites, from our little Cotswold town:
    http://www.maureenreader-growingandforaging.webs.com
    and…
    http://www.minchinhamptonscarecrowtrail.webs.com
    All the best,
    Maureen Reader

  13. Soss says:

    Hi Claire,

    Have been watching your Videos for a while now. Have been inspired to take up the fork and get stuck in. I have chosen a form of square foot gardening due to space constraints. One thing I am a little confused on is crop rotation. I understand the basic concept, but what is lacking is a list of what should follow what. All I can find are one or two examples of veg. Is there an easy way to know what should follow what when planning your vegetable garden? Sorry if this is a bit of a daft question… very new to all this, but, oh man, getting soooo much enjoyment from it.
    Keep up the good work.
    regards
    Soss

    rega

    • Hi Rega,
      Don’t worry about crop rotation, it’s too complicated for words. Most people on an allotment site don’t do it. The only things I would say don’t follow are potatoes and tomatoes and visa versa. Make sure you leave a year in-between these two, as they both can get Blight. Crop rotation is like tempering chocolate, there are far easier ways of doing it. You don’t need to do it. Just plant what you want where you want, except tomatoes and potatoes.
      Have fun,
      Claire

  14. david gray says:

    Hi Claire,
    great blog and clips which i came across on youtube while looking for tips. have since become quite the fan !! i grow all my stuff in raised beds and this year am trying fennel for the first time. any tips on things i need to do for the plants ? and just one other thing, the last few years i have grown the small tomatoes “minibell” and last year the plants developed leaf curl bad and turned brown with the stem going fusty smelling. couldn’t find any bugs etc so any idea on what could have happened ? tomatoes were mostly fine with some split ! hoping to avoid the same this summer. many thanks and keep up the great work !!!! cheers 🙂

    • Hi there,
      Which fennel are you growing? Florence for the bulb or as a herb. Both are easy and not a problem. Just make sure that you cut off the bulb fennel before it goes to seed. Leave the rest of the plant in and it will shoot next year. To stop the Tomatoes from splitting you need to water them little and often. They split when they’ve got dry and then suddenly had loads of water. The other problem sound like Blight. This is devastating, and can ruin your entire crop in as little as a week. If you spot it this year then remove all your Tomatoes from the plant and ripen inside, then throw away your plants, but not in the compost heap.

  15. david gray says:

    Thanks for the tips Claire.
    Yes, its florence for the bulbs. Love the taste of them roasted so decided to give them a go in my beds. didn’t know about cutting and leaving it in for the next year so thanks for the info. And yes, i reckon my tomatoes must have got to dry in the mini greenhouse which i have. i would water them twice a day. unless they looked very dry. So will take more care this year and listen to your great advice. again…many thanks !!
    david gray

  16. Jon Stewart says:

    Hi Claire, (and cameraman / editor, Mark?) , thank you both so much for sharing your video’s and passion for growing veg on your allotment.

    I bumped into them in a frantic search to find some information on growing cauliflowers and parsnips that didn’t leave me thinking; “Hmmm maybe this is a veg for professionals only to grow !” , as we have lots of cauliflower plants in trays coming up and I love parsnips so have some seed to sew, (was thinking of planting parsnips in some 6 inch lengths of old 3 inch drainpipe so they can grow straight and long etc ).

    Anyhow I saw your lovely films and I feel more confident of being able to take them on this season. Tried cauli’s once and they just had small flower buds, but we didn’t net them nor break off the leaves to cover the flowers once forming.

    So thank you so much for all your helpful videos and the sharing of your knowledge and experience presented with such enjoyable earthy and sincere passion. I’ll certainly be coming to your video’s first for all my veggie growing queries.

    P.s. Spain !! Boy, does their soil look difficult ?? I looked out over my garden today, over the green Galloway hills and thought, how lucky the British are, with all this lovely food we can grow in this green green land ! 🙂

    • Hi there,
      I’m so glad you find the videos helpful. In the videos, I just say it as it is. No fancy language, not expensive ways of doing things, just down to earth (excuse the pun) straight forward sowing. If you want to grow dead straight Parsnips do grow them in drainpipes, they’re much easer to harvest. If your Cauliflower heads are a little on the small side, don’t dispare, no one is judging them. Just grow what you like, and enjoy what you get. Some years something is fantastic and something doesn’t work, the following year it’ll be different.
      I don’t know how my Mum manages to grow anything where they live, but she does. Stuff I can’t even think about growing in the UK. Watermelons for example are fantastic in Spain.
      All the best,

      Claire

  17. david gray says:

    Hi Claire, me again !!
    Just thought i’d see how your potatoes were getting on after the other weeks frost ? mine went black on the leaves too although now they are picking up again slowly.
    A question for you, i have some chilli and pepper plants growing indoors at the mo on the windowsill , but on some they have developed a brown tinge on the leaves. Any ideas on why ? Have you ever tried growing pak choi Claire as i have put some in and they are now 2cm high. Not even cooked with them before so should be fun !!! david.

    • Hi David,
      The leaves that got caught by the frost died, but new leaves grew and the potatoes are growing very well.
      I grew Pak Choi last year along with other leaves for Chinese cooking. They grew really well, and I picked them as I needed them. Just stir fry for about 2 minutes, if that. They still need to be crispy when you eat them.
      As with the Chilli’s sometimes the leaves get a brown tinge to them, it’s nothing to worry about. As soon as the flowers start to appear then feed every 2 weeks with tomato feed. If the leaves beging to curl up tightly then it’s red spider mite and you’ll need to get a spray.

      • david gray says:

        Thanks for the advice again ! chilli’s are about to flower now but the pepper plants seem behind. And my aubergine plants that i have in the mini greenhouse are growing well but no sign of any flowers yet. Did harvest my first ever corgettes this week though so am really enjoying it. My grandad would be proud !!!

  18. I’m sure your Granddad will be extremely proud of you. Your first Courgette is wonderful. Mine haven’t even got flowers on yet. Have a great season.

  19. Lynn Kimber says:

    Hi Claire, I really adore your YT channel – we got our allotment last year and thanks to you it is doing very well indeed. When we took it over it was completely overrun with weeds and was thick with roots and v hard digging so we covered half of it with cardboard, a layer of compost and black membrane and let the worms do their stuff. Now we have very rich fertile soil and it is all looking very lush. The broad beans are taller than me!

    Hint to new allotmenteers: try Freecyle – we obtained a greenhouse for free, we just had to dismantle it and transport it. We also obtained several compost bins and a waterbutt. One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure.

    Happy allotmenting and thank you so much, Claire, for all your advice tips and cheery presentation. You are a national treasure.

    Lynn

    • Hi Lynn,
      Thank you very much for your kind words. I’m so glad to hear that your allotment it thriving, enjoy your treats from it, have a quick nibble on veggies when your down there. Free cycle is great, several people have managed to get loads of useful bits off there. I need to find another couple of water butts, so I may have a look later.
      Have a fantastic season,
      Claire

  20. Big Al says:

    Hi Claire, just stumbled on your site and youtube vids and I’m hooked!
    We’ve had allotment for 6 years now and have learnt loads from others, but sometimes you feel a bit daft asking a question your fthink you should know the answer too – even after all this time. You offer some great advice and tips. Brilliant! Thanks.
    Anyway, I thought I pass a really useful tip back to you. Sweetcorn……. more importanlty, germination.
    A few years ago an old fella told us about this trick and ever since we’ve had a 100% sucess rate (give or take the odd seed).
    Get a clear plastic bag (freezer bag is ideal) and fill with really wet compost – almost wringable!. Pop in your corn seeds, mix up well and seal. Then pop into your airing cupboard or somewhere warm (we use a heated propergator). Then within 24-36 hours, the corn will have sprouted! We then pot these on into toilet roll tubes and then when ready, plant out, tube an all.
    Happy pottering!
    Big Al

    • Hi Big Al,
      Thank you, I’m so glad you find my videos useful. I’ve never hear of germinating Sweetcorn that way, but I’ll try it next year as it sounds excellent. So far this year the Baby Sweetcorn and the Popcorn are growing very well. The normal Sweetcorn only germinated 3 plants. I sowed them all at the same time and in trays next to each other, so I’m at a loss as to why they didn’t germinate.
      Thanks for the information I’ll try next year, and let everyone know how I got on.
      Happy harvesting
      Claire

  21. Okay, i know i live now in the States but we germinate our corn seed by placing them in-between paper towels, i have a old cookie sheet and lay two thickness of paper towel sprinkle the seeds on and then lay two thickness again of paper towel then keep the towel moist til germination. I do love the idea of placing them after that in toilet rolls to plant out, as i normally just place them straight in the garden the width of my finger and thumb apart and place two germinated seeds and so on til the row is done. The secret to get a good yield is to make sure you plant a few rows to cross pollinate.

  22. Joao Paulo Salas says:

    Many thanks for all the very informative videos  and tips, and above all thanks for your effort and time to make them, I just became the proud holder of a half plot in Warlingham, Surrey, I will surely follow your tips and advice,
    It’s now late November so I’ll be getting the allotment ready for the new year, thanks again and look forward to future videos tips. Best Regards
    JP Salas

  23. Chris Burton says:

    Hi Claire,
    Thoroughly enjoy your allotment videos. I have just acquired my first allotment, but I haven’t got a clue where to start. Can you advise how to do this on a very low budget please?

    Take care,

    Chris

    • To do an allotment on a very low budget is basically to ask for stuff from various people. Go to your local builders merchant and ask if they have spare wooden pallets, then you can break them up to make a compost bin. Ask friends and neighbours if they have any plant pots they no longer need. Try “Free cycle” they have loads of bits, and all you have to do is collect. Car boot sales are great, you can usually pick up bargins from there.
      I hope that helps.
      Have fun,

      Claire

  24. Steve Medcalf says:

    Hi Claire. I couldn’t find an email address for you so have posted this here. I have started a web site for our allotments in Nottingham you can see it here: http://oldparkfarm.org/ Would it be OK with you to embed some of the videos you have on You Tube into our site please. As a bit of a novice I find them most helpful and I know there are a few like me on our plots. The idea initially is to get them interested in using the site by making it as interesting as possible.

  25. Sam Austen says:

    Hello I was just wondering when are you going to start videoing this year.
    What’s growing on?

    Sam!

    • I’m hoping to do one about recycling water at home this week, and a hose pipe ban is imminent. And Wednesday I intend on spending all day in the greenhouse sowing seeds, as it’s my birthday and that’s what I want to do.

  26. Gerry Crook says:

    Hi Claire,
    Love your blog and Utube progs., and more recently your appearances on BBC.
    I am very new to allotment growing, only getting a half plot to share with 3 friends in mid March. We have planted some 1st early potatoes and are currently planting some main crop seed spuds. We prepared the remaining area to plant various veg such as onion sets, carrots, beetroot, spring onions, lettuce etc.
    Here lies the question. We are now thinking we have made our 1st mistake in planting seeds directly into the ground. Should we have planted into trays first then transplanted later? None of us have a greenhouse for trays or a spare bedroom, and wives are reluctant to give up their windows sills. Have we started wrong? Any suggestions as to how we start seeds off to transplant later? (assuming we are wrong).

    Gerry

    • Half a plot between 4 of you, that’s hardly enough room to swing a cat! Don’t worry, the carrots, beetroot and spring onions need to be sown straight in the ground. If you get your onion sets in Feb/March, than start them off inside in half toilet rolls, then plant out late March/April. The lettuce can be sown either way. Personally I sow it in a seed tray and then plant clumps out when it’s large enough.
      If you don’t have a greenhouse see if you can get a small plastic cold frame, here’s one from Homebase:
      http://www.homebase.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?langId=110&storeId=10151&partNumber=585359
      Make sure you put a paving slab in the bottom, otherwise the wind will blow it over. It just gives the plants a bit of protection.
      Have fine.
      Claire

  27. maritza says:

    Hi Claire,
    Hope you can help me on this.
    I bought a ton of vegetable blend top soil from Quality Garden Supplies, and before I could do anything my husband very kindly had put the whole ton between the two beds. You see I wasn’t in when the soil arrived and if I had been there is no way I would have allowed for the soil to be left, It’s full of small stones, I do not know if this will harm my vegetables. What can I do apart from digging out as much as I can when I’m planting, is there anything else you could advise me please.
    Many thanks
    Maritza

    • Hi Maritza,
      Never ever trust your husband to do a job for you, why do you think I don’t allow mine down the allotment? I know he was only helping, but next time tell him to leave it be.
      Stones are good for drainage, and you need a certain amount in the soil. However, they are no good if you’re planting carrots or parsnips, unless you want funny shaped vegetable.
      The best thing I could say to you is to remove any medium/large stones, and leave the small ones in there. If you find there are just too many small ones then take them out as you weed, have a bucket standing by to pop them in. It’s a tedious job, but once it’s done it’s done. Make sure your husbands brings you lots of cups of tea and biscuits, ask him to help……

  28. maritza says:

    Hi Claire,
    Thank you so much for your reply……..I feel so much better now! The stones are quite small I didn’t think about the drainage, as always you are so good at what you do and have all the right answers. Thank you once again, please keep up with your blog they are great to read specially if you are giving some sort of advice. Take care
    Maritza

  29. graham says:

    Hello Claire, we have started 2 allotments projects 1 started on 22 07 2011, 2nd on 13 11 2011.
    Cmig allot @ facebook, Aspire allotments @ facebook, we watch U on youtube, and recive your blogs on ear keep up the good work regards graham

  30. Hello Claire U B careful with throught infections @ this time of year on the allotments as we R inn the The pollen season, which is normally March to August. However, it can start as early as January and end as late as November. sorry about your bronchitis

    • I’m much better. I have a coughing fit every now and then, but I just suck a sweetie and it usually sorts it out. I’m running out of sweeties though, so I’ll have to buy a few more. The pollen only effects me when it’s really, really high, and just makes my throat tickle for a couple of days. I do feel sorry for those who get it really bad. Summer is to be enjoyed and not spent hiding away blowing your nose.

  31. Hello Claire, thanks 4 your emails, yes summer in the allotments is 2 B enjoyed, we @ Aspire put sweetpeas 2 grow with R runner beans, and marygolds R used 2. C U soon regards graham

  32. Iain says:

    Hi Claire, have just come across your site while doing some research for mine, don’t suppose you’d give me some feed back? its http://www.vegdork.com, friends and family say they like it but they would! Be great to get comments from a web savy veg grower. I have started my own blog http://www.vegdork.com/growers/budgie if your interested. Wish I was in the garden rather than in the office on this lovely day!

    • Hi Iain,
      Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I love the website, it is clear and easy to find your way around. If I can find my way around it, then anyone can. Looks lovely and bright.
      Hope you’re looking forward to the new season, spring is almost here.

  33. roger says:

    hi claire, i started to grow tomatoes in a growbag, after one week the leaves are turning yellow.
    and still the same size, any tips to make them talller?

    • It sounds like a magnesium deficiency. Try spraying them with Epsom salts. As soon as the flowers start to appear then feed every 7-10 days with tomato feed. They’re thirsty plants so make sure they have a good water, but don’t let the soil be wet all the time.

  34. Nicoletta says:

    HI Claire, no matter how many organic pellets I am putting down, with such rain, everything seems under attack by the slugs, even the marigold and the sunflower were eaten alive! I haven’t found much on the website on this topic, but you must have talked about it, or on the videos, any tips?

    • You know what I really should do a video on slug/snail control. They don’t like to go over anything sharp, so if you have access to wood chips, then you can put a little barrier around each plant. Human hair is a good one too, so go to a hair dressers and ask for their off cuts. Please explain why you want their old hair first. Wood chips can take a lot of rain, where as hair has to be replaced. If you’re willing to waste beer on them, then you can make little swimming pools for them to dive into. Because it’s been so wet this year, these little horrors have taken over. I’ll see what I can do about a video for this.

      • John Thrupp says:

        Just to say that now instead of wasting beer i mix up a solution of dry yeast in water which is just as good as its the yeast in the beer that the slugs are attracted too.

        Hope that helps.

      • Oh that sounds like a good idea, I’ve never heard of using yeast before. Personally I use it in my bread, but it’s good to know there’s another use for it.

  35. Matt G says:

    Thanks for your updates. I have given up my allotment but watch yours as my virtual update. I always wonder though which part of the country are you in?

  36. Amanda says:

    Hi claire after almost 3 years of waiting i finally got my allotment yesterday the site isnt too bad althought the weeds are growing the problem is I am 27weeks pregnant with my 5th child and suffering from a condition called SPD which mean I cant do too much physically ( this will be left to hubby when hes available although he is in the raf so doesnt have many hours to spare) I dont want to miss out on the rest of the year although this year hasnt been to good everything i set off at home in my little grow house also have fallen victim to those slugs and snails . Im gonna get a couple of beds clear this next week what can I grow in terms of veg I have pleanty of salad growing at home so dont want to put more in. I really enjoy your clips and they have inspired me the last few years thank you .

    • Congratulations on finally getting you plot, and wow for expecting your 5th child, two is enough for me! Poor you with SPD, I didn’t have a clue what it was, but looked it up, sounds uncomfortable. There’s not a huge amount that can be grown now, the only things really are the following:
      lettuce (early and mid winter crop), kohl rabi, turnips, peas, mangetout, spring cabbage, chinese cabbage, endives, onions from seed, spinach.
      I hope that’s given you a few ideas. As for slugs and snail I will be doing a video on those soon, so hopefully people will find it useful.
      All the best,
      Claire

  37. Barry says:

    HI, Claire
    i was just wanting to know where your allotment is at, like in the uk or america because i am growing pumpkins here in the uk and my plant seemed to have a bit of rough start, i planted it out just at the right time in june and it has been developing pretty well, but i really didnt know what breed it was so i just went with it because i had already bought it from a gardening centre called homebase and i planted it in a raised bed( sounds kinda crazy to me) comparing it to everybody elses being grown in the ground and i am only 16. it is now august 11th and it has sent out no vines but has lots of male flowers and i think 1 female because it is different from the others, i know the difference between them but this 1 just seems odder than the males but it is still a bud. The plant has sent out and developed 3 males so far and the flowers r beautiful but i tried to preserve a male flower for later on to pollenate the female one, and i also noticed from one of your videos that one of your pumpkin plants are falling over on its side like growing over on its side and it looks very alike to mine so does that mean that mine is a trailing kind?

    thanks so very much for your time
    Barry

    • Hi Barry,
      My allotment is in Surrey, which is in the SE of England. To be honest my pumpkins haven’t done very well this year as the beginning of the summer was so bad. They seem to have picked up a bit now, but it’s getting a bit late for anything huge to grow. Pumpkins grow how they want to. They sometimes grow on their side and other times upright. They’re fine either way, and don’t try to change them as they won’t like it. ONce you see a fruit about the size of an grapefruit them cut the plant of just after it, then the plant concentrates all its energy on just that one fruit. You know when it’s ready because the leaves and the plant go brown and the pumpkin sounds hollow inside when tapped.
      All the best,
      Claire

  38. gaz says:

    Was recommended to watch your blog and so glad i was, keep them coming and i look forward to learning from you.

    • It’ll go a bit quiet now as it’s the winter, and there’s not much happening, but come late winter and early spring, it’ll all get going again, and I’ll blog every time I do something interesting in the garden or allotment.

  39. John Thrupp says:

    UHi Claire. Just to say that i am an absolute novice as far as gardening and veg growing is concerned and i am finding your videos on you tube so useful and informative.
    From having 2 tiny raised beds in my garden growing the odd lettuce imagine my surprise when after only being on my local allotment waiting list for 6 months (thinking i would have to wait years and years) only last week i was offered half a plot measuring 25m x 10m. Claire i am truly still in shock and looking for all the advice i can get. My wife can’t understand how i can possibly find anytime for my allotment when she’s been waiting for over a year for me to replace a damaged floor tile in the kitchen, but that’s another story!
    Please keep up the good work and hopefully between us we could just inspire my wife too.

    Not sure if this the way to contact you or if indeed you answer questions but in a few of your videos you are in a green coloured greenhouse/polytunnel. Could you give any details about the size, construction and price. I’ve been thinking what a good idea that one would be and i have seen some tunnels for sale on e bay and as money is very tight just now a 3 m x. 2 m tunnel for £75 seems too good to be true. The material looks like the one you’re in but i guess i am wrong.

    Kind regards, John

    • Hi John,
      Glad you find my videos useful and if you have any questions just ask. You’re going to have so much fun on your new allotment, but get that floor tile sorted soon, as you know how much women can nag. I know I can. The greenhouse that I had on the allotment has now gone, but I have a glass one in my back garden at home which you will see in later videos. This one is 6 ft x 8 ft, which was the largest size I could fit in the space I had available. It was delivered flat packed and took the whole weekend to put up. I can’t remember where we got it from but it was about £250 ish. Maje sure you look at the reviews that people have written, the cheaper ones are useless.

  40. Will says:

    Good day, Claire

    Your videos are great! What is the size of your allotment? Is it all in full sun or are there any trees casting shade?

    • Glad you find the videos helpful. I have 2 plots, both 160 square metres each. I’m lucky to have them diagonal to each other, which is a bonus, so that’s a lot to dig. Yes it’s in full sun always, even though it’s near some houses it’s far enough away to not get any shade. There are some trees on the site, but none near my plot.

  41. Good morning Claire, I just joined your blog, via YouTube. Thank you for the link. I am not too good with the computer, you made it simple. I am located in Wisconsin, USA, zone 4/5. I will be spending many hours watching your wonderful videos and reading your great blogs. It will help me get through this LONG, COLD Winter. I am a backyard gardener on a budget, always learning from other experienced gardeners. Thank you for sharing. I do have a garden blog/website that my son created for me as a Mother’s Day gift. Please feel free to check it out. http://www.larksperennials.com I look forward to all your updates. Smiles, Lark

  42. Dave says:

    Hi Claire where abouts is your allotment?growing up in the UK I learnt all about allotments from my dad,now living in Australia I still reflect on how good it was to spend time on the alloent.

    • I’m based in the SE of the UK, in Surrey. Not great weather today pouring with rain and very windy. Not idea allotment weather for being down their and working, but a great excuse to go in the greenhouse and sow seeds, which I’ll be doing this afternoon. Where abouts are you in Australia?

  43. Jacky Mortimer says:

    Dear Claire,
    just found your blog on a revolting day – what a tonic! I couldn’t face the allotment or garden in this weather, but seeing your cheery face enthuse about Tree Tomatoes and Chop Suey greens really made my day brighter… my own experiment into Tree Tomato seeds was unsuccessful but this was probably due to having collected the seeds from my exotic fruit salad in a napkin at a restaurant rather than buying properly cleaned seed! Very delicious and worth another try.
    Chop Suey greens- yummy with fresh chilli, garlic chives and noodles and quite sturdy, even through disgusting weather.
    (Although not as great as ‘Green in Snow’ oriental mustard that I have actually picked in the snow and it was perfectly fresh and edible).
    I cannot comment on the best ways of growing butternuts except to say they need quite a long growing season and it has sometimes been worth just keeping two decent fruits rather than more small ones. Both Pilgrim and Hunter, (an odd fat pear shape instead of usual butternut shape) seem fine, but best ones were some renegade US variety during our last long baking summer- was it 2006? Alas no name.
    All squashes are a delight and I’ve persuaded my husband to get a larger freezer compartment on our new fridge- especially so I can have frozen pasta sauce for winter- shredded courgette and tomato.
    Brilliant to see your videos- I was a fan on the TV channel and it is so nice to see you again. Makes this cold spring much more bearable to hear your ideas! Thanks! Jacky

    • My tomatoes trees have been slow to germinate, but so far 3 have come through. I think they wanted to wait for the warmth to appear before they popped through the soil. Hopefully they’ll start to grow fairly quickly now. The Chop Suey greens need to go outside now, but they’ve got to wait another 2 weeks until the frosts have gone, so they’ll have to stay in the greenhouse for a bit longer. The butternut again are slow, but I’ve moved the tray they’re growing in to a different place in the greenhouse, so hopefully they’ll grow a bit better now. These last 2 weeks before everything can go out can be tricky as the greenhouse is getting very full. If next week the weather is kind at night I may put some things out sooner.
      Have a great season,
      Claire

  44. Pootle says:

    Hi, I’ve just discovered your blog and i like your no nonsense approach. I’ve got 4 raised(ish) beds at the end of the garden which I love! You made me laugh when you said about habits when you get to your plot (2011). I always seem to walk round saying hello to everything first, sometimes out loud which probably amuses the neighbours. I do this about twice a day in the summer. My husband calls it ‘surveying the estate’ – all 12 x 20 foot of it!

    I’m very worried at the moment as I haven’t planted anything in the ground and only have some broad beans, courgettes and cabbage on the window ledge. It’s been to cold so far and today is wet wet wet! Maybe tomorrow! At least I’ve got back fabric on the beds so it might be warm enough. Do you think I should just throw caution to the (high) wind and just bung in some carrots, beans leaks and keep fingers crossed?

    • You always have to talk to your plants, that way they grow better for you. Don’t worry about being behind on your planting. Most of us are this year, because its been so cold. Hopefully it’ll warm up properly soon and we’ll get the summer we all want. If you haven’t done so now, get all but the tender crops in the soil. Wait until your last frost date to put the tender plants like the courgettes, beans and tomatoes out.
      Hope this helps,
      Claire

  45. Luis says:

    Draw a rough outline of the yard and house, indicating entrances, driveways, sheds,
    etc. And you can see from the photos above that she did an outstanding landscape
    design this year for her booth, yet she was only given a concrete floor structure to work
    with and nothing else. Though there are many companies that can assist
    you in helping to maintain the beauty of your property and home, one should not choose the first company
    that is found.

  46. Diarmuid Fitzmaurice says:

    Hi claire!
    I live in the republic of ireland.I have tomato plants ready for planting in my poly tunnel but i watered with a tomato feed and got on the leaves a few days ago.They now look withered.Will this kill them of just set them back.

    Diarmuid

    • You don’t need to feed your tomatoes until the flowers start to appear. Doing so before will only encourage the plant to produce more leaves. Leave the damaged leaves on the plant, they’ll most probably fall off in time. The plant will still grow, but when you feed them next (when the flowers appear), make sure you water from the bottom and mind the plant itself. When the plant gets larger this won’t be a problem. the feed was too strong for the tiny plant.
      Hope this helps,
      Claire

  47. Charis says:

    Hi Claire,
    Loving YouTube and the blog, I only started my allotment in march but am LOVING IT already 🙂
    Just wondered how the cucamelon seeds are doing, mine are super baby plants still 😦
    Xx

    • I potted my Cucamelons up yesterday, some are still a little small, but I made a film, so maybe Mark will be able to sort it out this weekend. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying your allotment, it’s hard work, but the rewards are amazing.

  48. rita campbell says:

    hi Claire just got my allotment last year so have been digging weeds and getting the soil into shape by digging in lots of manure .Started planting loads of potatoes as they say it cleares the ground i am watching all your utube growing veg and picking up great information thank you so much

    • Potatoes are great for breaking up the soil. You’ll notice a real difference next year with the soil. Try and get as many weeds and roots out as possible, as this will help you next year. Have fun.

  49. read this says:

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    that you simply shared this useful information with us.
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  50. Philippa says:

    Hi Claire,
    We have just taken on an large allotment. We have strimmed the area, put in boundaries, and are wondering how to tackle the beds. We have design in mind but at this time of year it is silly to dig as weeding will be an impossible task. We reckon a bed at a time, starting with parsnips. What do you think.
    We love the view and atmosphere over there so go ther everyday.
    Philippa.

    • Hi Philippa,
      Just take one bed at a time. Cover what you’re not going to dig with black plastic, that way it’ll stop the grass and weeds from growing and keep the soil moist, therefore easier to dig. If you’re able to do raised beds, they make the plot look neater, and then the paths in between can be covered with wood chips to keep them low maintenance. When you dig each bed, make sure you remove every single scrap of weed and grass, and then when a bed is finished cover it with 2 inches of well rotten horse manure. Leave and the worms will do all the work over the winter to take it into the soil. The when spring comes, just give it a quick fork over and it’s ready for sowing/planting.
      I make it sound so easy, but don’t kid yourself. Little and often is the key. I can’t spend all day on site, once I’m tired, that’s it. Take a snack down with you and plenty of water to drink (or beer). Take it one bed at a time, and you can’t go wrong.
      Don’t bother planting anything this year, get it ready to start next season. Potatoes are good for breaking up the soil. Parsnips can go in from early March, so buy your seeds as soon as they’re in the shops. Don’t go mad the first year, just a dozen or so, you can always add a couple extra on if you’ve got time.
      Have fun,
      Claire

  51. Charis says:

    Hi Claire, hope all is well, enjoying the updates as ever 🙂

    Just wanted a little advice if possible! I’d like to grow some romanesco coz it looks so cool, and have found some plug plants online, but I just wondered if you knew if it’d be too late to plant now. I keep googling and haven’t come up with anything of use – then I thought to ask you 🙂

    Any advice would be much appreciated!
    Thanks,
    C.

    • If you get it out in the soil asap, then they may be a bit later than other peoples, but they should still grow well. Make sure you water them in well during this hot weather. They are lovely, I’ve grown them before. Makes a change from the bog standard veg.

  52. David Smith says:

    Love your site

    I am second on list for plot in my area and have learnt alot through your site keep up good work will let you know when I get my plot

  53. writerdsnelson says:

    Hi Claire

    My name is Dawn Nelson and I write cosy crime under the name D S Nelson. On the 31st of October I will be publishing the second of my Blake Hetherington novellas entitled ‘One For The Rook’. The story takes place on an allotment and I’d love it if you would be willing to review it for me. If this is something you would like to do then I can e-mail you a free PDF of the manuscript. I would be looking for an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads of even your blog. If you are interested my e-mail is info@dsnelson.co.uk

    Many Thanks

    Dawn

    • Hi Dawn,
      Thanks for the offer, but I’m going to have to pass. It takes me so long to read a book, as the only time I get is when I go to bed, and then I’m so tired. I wish you all the best for your book, let me know how you get on.
      Regards,
      Claire

      • Hi Claire, thank you for replying. I completely understand. Your allotment must keep you very busy. I look forward to reading more of your allotment diaries. Take care and happy gardening! :o)

  54. Blogging really is a great way to learn and share!

  55. Stevie says:

    Hey just thought drop a message,
    Starting of late this year, had a oh last year got on ok. So watching all it vids at the min from vid no.1 to now to see what I can learn. Have a 30ft pollytunnel to play with. Hope I can get going … Tiding from last year is time consuming. Plus end of July I’m away a month so worried it be a waste of time and come back to over grown mess.

    Any how I shall carry on a watch your vids. Like how you show the basics and go in to detail best so far on YouTube

    Thanx

  56. Stevie says:

    Thanx for reply really wasn’t expecting it 🙂

    My only main problem is weeds lol we put our pollytunnel in a field on our farm and cleared out a bit inside to grow veg in. The weeds are crazy, dockin are the main trouble with their long roots. Any tips advice because I will need to start planting out and don’t want it takin over by the old field again.

    Prob a simple fix but even after it sprayed with roundup or something like it, it all comes back.

    Thank you,
    Stevie

    • Hi Steve,
      Weeds are our worst enemies. If someone could find a way to get rid of them forever, then they’d be a genius! And We’d all love them forever. The only way to stay on top of them, is to weed regularly and get them before their flowers become seed heads. If you have any really stubborn weeds then you will have to dig down deep to get out as much as you can of the root. You could always try putting plastic down on the ground, then wood chips and grow in raised beds. That way you’d be starting a fresh. I will be pricey to start with getting all the bits together, but once it’s set up, then it’s done. If you know a tree surgeon, then maybe they could get you wood chips for free.

  57. Hi Claire

    I’m contacting you on behalf of Darling Magazine which goes out to more than 8000 homes in Cobham, Esher, Claygate and will shortly be delivered in Weybridge and Walton. Not sure where your allotment is? Would love to make contact with you

    Ali

  58. Nadia says:

    Hello!

    I’ve been following your videos since last summer and you’ve helped me to be eventually successful with vegetable growing after years of gardening disasters. You are very good at explaining what to do and making it simple. Most of all your techniques work! Any way I’m organising beds in my vegetable garden and unsure what is the best size to make them and where to put things?? I have roughly 16 ft by 13 ft (the longest side runs north to south) to play with and I have courgettes, runner beans, French beans, peas to put out. I also want to sow carrots, beet root and put in onions, cabbages and broccoli. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

    • Hi Nadia,
      I’m so glad that you find my videos useful, and that you’ve been successful in growing your own vegetables. The general rule I have for raised beds, or any beds really is that you don’t really want to stand on the soil. So with that in mind, you can make the beds as long as you like, but then have them only have them 3 – 4 feet wide. That way you can reach the centre of the bed from each side without stepping on the soil. Hope that makes sense. If you have really long arms like I have, then they can be a bit wider. Also if you’re quite bendy, you can straddle the bed, but make sure you don’t get stuck!!

  59. Whoa, such a invaluable website.|

  60. hi Claire I am new to the allotments what is your advice on watering potatoes and onions as some say if they are bulbs you don’t have to water them once you see the green shot on them

    • Water your plants thoroughly twice a week. What I do is use a watering can with no rose on the end. that way the water will get straight down to where it’s needed. Stop watering them when the leaves have gone brown. The plants won’t grow anymore when this happens.

  61. thanks Claire that a great help

  62. M. Bundock says:

    Took your suggestion and celebrated WNGD today May 1st , Northern California, the weather was beautiful…Thanks

  63. Rob says:

    Thanks again for sharing your garden with us. Your tips really help us plan what we are doing in ours.

  64. Debbie says:

    Hi Claire… I’m new to gardening. We aquired an allotment last year November after the passingmy father in law. We have only started working on it since January. I have sown quite a few things veg at home in my greenhouse. All my veg are coming up and I have planted them in little cells however, there just seems to be a little cluster of about 5 or so stems of green leaves. Is it suppose to look like this? Thank you in advance

  65. Fiona Stokes says:

    Hi Clire
    Just found your you tube channel today and love it. Totally addicted. Just got an allotment and I’m sharing it with a friend. We have one bed clear. What would you suggest planting now form seed?
    I have a small plastic green house so could bring some on in there too just not sure what.
    Many thanks and keep up the good work.

    Fiona

  66. Andrew says:

    Hi Claire,

    I just stumbled across your blog last night and am really enjoying it. Three weeks ago, I got ‘the call’ to say I had the opportunity to take on an allotment (NW England). I started off with a half plot and just yesterday have been given a whole plot. The second half is absolutely covered in weeds and looks more like a meadow than a plot! So far I’ve cleared the half plot, improved the soil and sown some seeds, as well as built a shed/ compost heap/ greenhouse.

    I was just wondering if you had any advice on what crops I can sow in June/ July, as it is likely to take me a couple of weeks to get the second plot in order.

    Thank you!

    Andrew

    • Congratulations on getting your first plot. How big is it? Each council has different sizes (or is that just where I live?) Hope you’re having fun, and I hope my videos are useful. Any questions just ask, and I’ll answer them as soon as I can.What I would suggest with the over grown area is for you to strim it as low as you can. Then cover it with black plastic. Concentrate on the other half of the plot and when it’s all sorted then start with the other half. Covering it with plastic makes it look tidy and then you don’t feel over whelmed. Crops to sow June/July I would go for: Peas, Mangetout, Sugar snap, lettuce, beetroot, Carrots (small ones), spring onions and spinach. Go and buy some plants from the garden centre as well.

    • I hope you’re having a great year on your plot. What’s been good this year for you?

  67. Samantha says:

    Hello Claire,

    I am a gardening novice & recently moved into a property with a garden, neighbours were so nice & started giving me lots of plants / veg. Not having a clue what to do but thankful of their generosity I YouTube about my pea’s. Found your videos & I’m hooked ! Your a wonderful inspiration & love how happy you always seem to be. Just want to say thank you for helping with my journey (as you have with many others) & keep up the great work you do its such a pleasure. I Look forward to your videos x

  68. peace says:

    Hi guys can u do avideo showing how to cross pollinate flowers please

  69. Hello,
    Hope this email finds you well. 
    My name is Bernadette, I’m a Social Media Assignment Editor at The Weather Channel (weather.com) & Vida Increíble.
    We’d like to feature your footage (cucamelon) on our digital weather co owned properties with courtesy to you.
    Do we have your permission?
    Look forward to hearing from you.  Thank You

  70. Hi Claire,

    I hope this finds you well. My name’s Camilla, and i’m part of the Waltons blog team. We’ve been reading a lot of allotment blogs lately- and we love the fact that you write books as well as grow plants.

    In fact, we liked your blog so much we’ve featured it in our ‘Allotment Blogs’ round-up for National Allotment Week (this week).

    I hope it’s ok to use your picture in the review- if you have one you’d like us to use please feel free to send it along.

    I’ll be sure to let you know when the post goes live.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or comments- it’s always good to hear back from our featured bloggers.

    All the very best,

    Camilla

  71. C9Allotment says:

    Hiya Claire, how are you? I’ve watched most of your videos and find them really really informative and have personally helped me as I started out on my own small plot. And now I started my own blog, Ive only recently started reading folks trials and advice given in their blogs and I’m finding them fascinating also. I hope you continue to produce videos and more blogs as we all never stop learning in his game. Thank you

    • I’m very well thank you. Been very busy with work over the last several weeks, so not been able to get to the allotment as often as I’d like. Still it’s all slowing down now for the winter, so that’s ok. I hope you’ve had a very successful year this year. What has been your biggest triumph? It’s now half term, so I’ve got some time off before the new term starts again. I only work term time, so that works perfectly around my kids.

      • C9Allotment says:

        Yea hiya Claire, like yourself I never really got as often as I would have liked to the plot this year but even when I did get the tea was brewed and the chatting began lol As for triumphs, being from Ireland the souds are always a treat and grew my first ever pumpkin too, just shy of 20kg so really happy with that too

  72. That’s a brilliant weight for a pumpkin. My heaviest ever is 48lb and that was about 7 10 years ago!! Never quite got one that big ever again. But I will one day.

  73. malcolm says:

    hi clare love your vids great tips you give keep on doing the great work

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