Wednesday, February 2

How did your blog grow?

Forgive the digression from gardening matters. The seeds of my blog were sown in August 2006. I chose one of the standard templates - Son of Moto for no other reason than because it was green!

Our new allotment site secretary asked me to create a website for our site and a blog seemed to fit the bill. I named it Green Lane Allotments – very original - and adopted the pen name of Green Lane Allotments. I wish that I’d had the foresight to be a bit more creative as now I am destined to remain GLA! Interestingly most people figured that I was male!

The first shoots of the blog were just posts giving information about our allotment site and provided a means of communicating with other plot holders. I never really considered that anyone away from our plot would find it even remotely interesting. Comments were just bantering remarks between plot holders until the novelty wore off or someone became offended.

The chronological style of a blog was a bit limiting and so in November 2006 another seed was sown and my website began to germinate. I used a free community system provided by BT. The web site allowed for more in depth articles and a different structure. The blog remained a communication tool and also acted as a signpost to point to updates on the website. The blog posts were very short – often one liners with links to the website – the growth of the blog was stunted being overshadowed by the stronger growing website. 

In March 2007 I became chair of the Allotment Association so much of the content was still community based, although now also covered association matters with photos taken around the site each month. Some personal stuff crept in but mostly that was kept to the website.

A dose of manure caused the blog to suddenly sprout into growth in a new direction. Unfortunately the growth spurt was fed by our site being affected by contaminated manure. At that point not much information was available about the problem so the blog and website became very much the focus of information for people affected. There was lots of media coverage and so visitors poured in from all over the UK and beyond.

In January 2009 after some political unpleasantness on our site both the site secretary and I along with all but one of the committee members resigned from the association committee. The blog was pruned and reshaped to become personal and renamed Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments even though I decided to include posts about our garden as well as our allotment plots. I felt changing the name completely would just cause confusion for our growing number of visitors especially as many were still using it and the website as a source of information about contaminated manure

Feeling more confident to delve into the mysteries of html, in January 2010 I decided to give the blog a complete redesign to reflect that this was now a personal blog and so developed into the blog as you know it.

Last month I decided that our garden should feature in the title and banner photograph as, during the winter months especially, our garden has played a more prominent role and the blog is no longer mainly about our allotment. So I have now rehashed the banner which will still change seasonally or whenever the whim takes me. I also increased the width of the blog after Mark at Marks Veg Plot widened his to allow for larger photographs.

I've also added some tabs to the top of the page with links that will take you to areas of our website that you may find supplement the blog. We haven't yet created an area on the website devoted to our garden and so this tab is inactive at the moment.

By the way I have recently been frustrated by the image not appearing in word verification and so have switched this off - if I get lots of computer generated rubbish it will go back on again so if any rubbishy comments appear don't click on any web links.
Similar changes have been made on our other two blogs. So how why did you start your blog and how has it developed?


  1. Dear Sue, I did not realised that it started as an allotment project group. Since we met middle of last year. It was interesting to know how your blog evolved.

  2. Hi Diana, I thought it was one way to explain why I ended up with such an inappropriate pen name. I'm thinking of changing it but don't want to confuse everyone.

    By the way someone did try to post an automatically generated comment but the good old spam catcher caught them and didn't publish it!

  3. It is very interesting history. I remember your blog when it was in different design (very "loud" green color as background). The change was for better, definitely!
    I also thought you were a man, until you changed your picture. Sorry.

    I started my blog only for the purpose of documenting (like a diary with pictures). With time it evolved in something where I like to share my gardening experience. I am sure that with time it will evolve into something else...

  4. Oooh, so interesting. I did my first ever blog post about how my blog came to be:

    The interesting thing for me is that my other blog, about Scotland, grew out of my allotment blog. I seemed to have a compulsion to post photos of Scotland and suddenly realised that I needed two blogs.

    Sorry to hear about the politics. I absolutely loathe politics, anywhere.

  5. That's the fun of blogging isn't it Ana - making changes and I forgive you for thinking I was a man - it's often difficult from the pen name to decide! When the blog was just directed to people I knew then the name didn't matter.

    The other green was 'very loud' and I used it before I figured out how to create my own design. As you say the blog will keep changing.

    The 'politics' was really unpleasant at the time Linda. It was a case of people spreading false rumours about perceived intentions that seemed to come out of the blue. You only need a few people to stir things up and it's even worse when people who should know better believe what they are being told without asking directly. Must admit our council officers didn't help!

  6. My Blog started as after my hubby set it up for me...I am not much into computers but love my hubby likes computers but not the garden/plot and was getting sick of listening about, whilst playing with his favourite toy he also could pout an end to my constant allotment

    I came across GLA when you contacted me about the manure...i have watched your blog grow more personal and love all that you write!!

  7. Thanks Tanya - I think you must be one of my longest standing visitors. After a couple more posts I think I'll need to rein myself in a bit as the post seem to be getting longer though once the real gardening starts that will automatically prune my posts!

  8. I also didn't realize that your blog started as an allotment project group.

    I have to say that I like your new layout. I think that I will change my layout in the Spring.

    The reason that I started my blog was to document my gardening. It has changed a bit and I'm sure will change as time passes. I've only been blogging for 9 months now.

  9. Ah, the joys of Allotment Association politics...

    I wanted to be able to look back on what I did in previous years to learn from my mistakes, etc. I usually forget though, but after forcing the same rhubarb crown for two years though I did check last years picture earlier today so that I could nip down and put the pot of the right one this year!

    And if the truth be known, I quite like playing with the technology every now and again ;>)

  10. PS. I find Blogger is quite effective in filtering the majority of the spam now. And you could always approve messages as an extra check?

  11. It's a strange thing Robin - whatever changes you make you then come up with better ideas - I'm never really satisfied but I enjoy trying to get there.

    I must admit Rob I have been happier now I'm out of the politics. I was sort of pushed into it in the first place against my better judgement but decided I couldn't complain about what anyone else did if I wasn't willing to do it myself. Pity others don't think the same way as now the Association is only in name but I guess the council are quite pleased about that.

    We have a monthly diary on our website which is linked from the new tabs at the top of the blog. This is great for comparing last year and previous years to where we are now.

  12. If you want something done, ask a busy person. Constantly amazed at how much you do.

    But to answer your question, why I started my blog is a post you might not have read from March 2008 :}

    It's a personal record, a diary, a way of keeping in touch with friends and family who are a long way away.

  13. Very interesting how your on-line life has taken many twists and turns due to one thing and another. Quite a few blogs I am visiting have word verification problems at the moment, you're not alone!

  14. Hi Sue. You've got me thinking. I was going to shut down my blog after one year, because it was a simple record of what I grew and when. As happens every year allotment fatigue had set in at the end of the season. But as soon as I had decided I had no more to do a great weight lifted off my shoulders and I started enjoying the process a bit more. The winter seems to be a time for ruminating and planning. Next thing you know you've got ideas sprouting all over the place. I've never messed with the format of my blog - nor accepted any offer to advertise. (Once you see adverts on my blog you'll know I'm unemployed!) Your site has been a beacon (starting with the contaminated manure debacle) and Martyn does a sterling job on the weather blog too. Once I get my greenhouse, I've got a head start from his data - cheeky I know!

    You've gathered quite a group of admirers around and I'm glad to count myself as one.

  15. Great post. It's fascinating to learn from other people's experience. I might do a post like this myself some time - perhaps when I a bit more experience under my belt.

  16. Good grief I had no idea you were blogging for so long. I started Grow Our Own in the summer of 2008 Our allotments were new, Andrew and I were the first to cut a sod, our little field was the start (now it's huge and not as sweet and friendly). I started to feel benefits in my mental health and just felt I wanted to write it down for myself and have photos, so nothing was better at that than a blog. Slowly people started to find me and our alllotment team and council started to link to me and I was the unoffical blogger for the site. That wasn't the intention! But now I have meet some lovely peoplw, my openness in taking about depression has lead to charities using my blog and I suddenly feel that this could help someone and be fun at the same time. I still want to just document our plots and gardens but am so privledged and honoured that people want to share in the journey and also share theirs with me xxx And yes I often think about the name of mine and how I didn't think long enough hahahaha.

  17. Hi! I followed Carrie here, so to speak. To read this post on my first visit was very enlightening, and helpful - thank you.
    We started our blog about 6mths ago, initially to post about how we got our chickens and pigs and any problems we had to solve. With the seasons it is evolving and I suspect a second blog is growing within it every time I post.
    I don't normally talk so much, honest - I'm away to have a good look around. Mo

  18. I've been loving your blog - and all the info and photos, but mine started because of my passion and my work. As a garden writer, it's an easy way for me to share my adventures (and misadventures) with readers and as a radio host, it allows listeners to check out some of the crazy things that I've talked about on the show.. but, I love the blogging and the online community. It has been very positive so far - just into year 2 now..

  19. It's interesting how blogs evolve!

  20. I read many gardening blogs before I got my allotment. I used to grow my veggies in containers in the garden and found blogs to be a great source of information. I got my allotment at the start of 2009 and set up my blog to coincide with this, purely as a record of what I did and when. I'm not very technically minded so I've never messed about with the format of the blog, it's been the same from day one. I love it when someone new finds their way to my blog, and it's still a thrill when I get a comment. I still enjoy reading gardening blogs, some of which I've been reading for a long time now.

  21. Hi BW,
    I remember you talking about that yes. We don't work anymore so it helps to have a hobby for winter! Neither of us are people who can sit and do nothing.

    It sort of mimics real life Damo!

    I'm glad that you didn't Mal as I enjoy my visits to you! I'm always grateful when people join in conversations as often it is where you learn the most. I'm quite glad we have seasons that give us a natural break and refresh the enthusiasm. I do have adverts which started as a fund raising idea for the site and just stayed where they were when the blog became personal as people liked to use them - some are just favours to people I know. I get lots of requests though from companies who have no connection with gardening and those are refused. Martyn will be happy to know he has been of use!

    Must admit I was in two minds about straying from the gardening theme mark but glad you enjoyed it.

    Hi Carrie - I'm sure your blogs are an inspiration to others suffering. At least you have a sensible username - I was thinking about making mine something like Sue at GLA but haven't decided yet whether that would confuse things! Sue aka Green Lane Allotments is a bit of a mouthful! Should I stay as I am or not?

    You're very welcome Mo and Steve - talk as much as you want - and I'll pop over and see your blog. I suppose if we are to count everything Martyn and I have two websites and three blogs. I also used to write for fennel and Fern and do a bit for VideoJug when I have ideas that don't fit our sites.

    Hi Nikki, I do visit and enjoy your blog regularly even though I don't always comment.

    Hello meemsync - seems most blogs start off as a personal thing and develop a life of their own. But I have also noticed some that start and never get beyond the one post stage!

    I feel the same Jo - I've had great fun watching my Flooweres list grow. I've always liked messing about on the computer. My last job was as an ICT consultant for primary schools. I started using computers when I was a primary teacher. WE bought our own computer so I could learn how to use it better in my classroom and I caught the bug.

  22. It should say followers in my response to Jo just in case you thought I meant flowers which I also enjoy watching grow!

  23. Discovered this post just when it wasneeded. Thanks to you. It's recently been incredibly helpful

  24. Glad you found it of some use Anon.

  25. Fascinating to hear someone else's blogging history. Wider formats work much better for photos and now that most people have larger screens, might as well use the space! Congrats on braving html and making the blog very much your own. Blogs evolve just as people and gardens do, part of the fun I think, gradually working out how you want to use it and how you want it to look.

  26. Janet - It was considering the type of monitor people may have that made me hold off for so long on widening the area then Mark did it with no adverse comments so I followed him.

    It's strange as the html for all three of our blogs is slightly different in how it is constructed and they all started off as the same template! Making a standard theme wider is quite easy as you can use the template designer and I thought as the designer allowed for up to 1000 px it should be OK for me too.

    By the way Blogger spam has so far picked up all the automated comments and dumped them in the comments spam area.

  27. I also didn't know your blog started as an allotment project group. It is very interesting to see how it changes over time. Mine as you probably know since we meet almost from the start, begin as just a small journal to keep me from forgetting what I had done. But gladly it has grown much more ever since.

    I also had a thing with identities, I think more than half my readers thought I was a girl. And probably now still a bunch believe so.

  28. I noticed on some of the blogs linked to your Carnival you were called she!! :D


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