Saturday, November 9

Book Review - The Allotment Planner

Along with many other bloggers I was approached and asked whether I would like to review The Allotment Planner by Matthew Appleby. You may have already read reviews by half the blogosphere but I have avoided reading these before writing my review as I didn't want to be influenced by what other people thought.

When the book arrived it didn't really look as I had expected it would. It looked more like a diary or journal. To be honest the appearance wouldn't have attracted my to it had I been browsing the shelves of a book shop.

I first read the introduction by Alys Fowler the first sentence of which describes the book as 'an irreverent look at keeping an allotment' and also uses phrases such as 'tongue in cheek cynicism'.

Turning back to the contents page I found that the contents were arranged into monthly sections but reading through the activities they didn't seem to be month related. A title entitled 'Crackdown on crime' was listed in the June section and in December it was suggested that we could 'Plant a herb garden'.

The contents page really sets the tone of the book. This isn't really a book which will help you plan and work on your allotment as the title suggests. To be honest I wasn't sure whether this book was meant to be seriously suggesting some of the ideas or whether it really was just meant to be an entertaining tongue in cheek read! There were ideas such as 'Keep carp for food' which surely is not intended to be taken seriously.

Some ideas such as hiring out or subletting your plot, growing to sell, camping on the plot etc would certainly not be allowed on our allotment site. Another suggestion, which made me raise my eyebrows, was for someone who gardens for others as a business - 'having an allotment can be useful as a place to dump and burn waste collected during your gardening work'. Was this a serious suggestion - I do hope not?

At the beginning of each month we are treated to a literary quote and a full page photograph, although some of the photos don't seem relevant to the given month. For instance the March photograph is a close up of a sunflower. November's photograph shown below is one of the more relevant placements. I think their purpose is decoration.
In each month's section are two double page spreads intended to be used for notes. These pages include lists of ideas of what to sow, plant and harvest. The two notes sections are split and don't really provide space for someone who likes to keep detailed notes. I think these monthly journal pages would be better if all four were kept together.
At the back of the book is double page spread that can be used to draw plans and another double page spread which you can use to make a note of useful contacts.
Mixed in with the more seemingly tongue in cheek ideas are some useful pages with good suggestions. There are instructions for how to make a raised bed, a section on using everyday 'junk' as containers and ideas on growing something new to eat.  It is a case of using your own judgement to sort out what is possible.
There is a section on how to make a wildlife area and some suggestions for extending the use of your plot by keeping bees or chickens etc but these pages don't go into any level of detail and are really only triggers for your consideration.

The aim of the book is to encourage us to view our plot as a full day destination for the whole family and to suggest we think beyond what is considered 'normal' allotment practice. The book may entertain, inspire and set you thinking but if you buy expecting it to provide a detailed guide on how to plan and manage your plot you will be disappointed.

If you would like to have the opportunity to enter a draw in order to win my review copy them please post a comment on this post and state that you would like to have your name included. Due to postage costs I'm afraid I can only offer the prize to UK entrants. The deadline for entries is midnight on Saturday 23 November. 

If you wish to buy the book a special discount has been set up for readers:

To order The Allotment Planner at the discounted price of £12.00 including p&p* (RRP: £14.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG34. 

Alternatively, send a cheque made payable to: 
Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department, 
Littlehampton Book Services, 
PO Box 4264, 
Worthing, West Sussex 
BN13 3RB. 

Please quote the offer code APG34 and include your name and address details. 

*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.


  1. I see that you reached a very similar conclusion to mine - though you have given it a much more thorough coverage. A very strange book. Hard to tell who it is aimed at, and whether it is deliberately arranged like it is, or simply so through incompetence!

    1. I think I just was expecting it to be something that it wasn't Mark

  2. I've really enjoyed what I've read so far. I don't mind that things are out of sequence, or that photos would be more appropriate in a different month. I think many newcomers to allotments just see all the hard work before them, hard work which they never knew would come with an allotment, but if they see the other benefits to having an allotment, other than growing veg, they may just stick with it a bit longer and who knows, they may actually come to enjoy their rented bit of earth. I noticed this week that it's being sold on The Book People for £4.99, that may make it more palatable. Thank you for the mention and link.

    1. The idea of getting plotters to think more broadly is a good one, Jo. Having an allotment is more a way of life if you are going to stick with it. I wasn't really too fussy about how the photos had been used - that was just a comment to describe the book, I'm all for thinking beyond the traditional ways of enjoying an allotment but the main issue I had was sorting out whether the author actually meant many of the things he was advocating to be taken seriously or whether they were tongue in cheek. Some ideas are good ones and in fact are things we do ourselves but other are either totally impractical, against allotment rules or would cause friction between plot holders. As I said what appeals to one person won't another which is why I posted links to other reviews and also why I used so many photos as I thought that this way people could look at the photos and make up their own minds. It was also why I didn't read any other reviews until after I had drafted mine. Thanks for the tip about the book people - I wonder how they can pffer books at such knock down prices.

  3. I haven't read Jo's review yet but will be going over for her thoughts in just a moment...however a lot of the more obscure things you have mentioned i;e...using it as a dumping ground/for a business/to burn rubbish is what has gotten many of our plot holders 'kicked off' and got bonfires banned for a while. I guess you can put my name in the would be good as a 'what not to do' book. lol

    1. I'll pop your name in Tanya, you may like the book as a read. If you click on the contents photo you can read it better and get a good idea of the ideas included although other are given as tips as shown in the photo below the contents.

  4. I'd LOVE to be entered, I think it sounds great!xxxx

  5. I enjoyed your review! Great job.

    1. Thank you, Bonnie, it's a shame I have to limit the draw to the UK.

  6. Please enter me for a chance to win this publication as I am a volunteer on an allotment for adults with mental and physical disabilities and we are feeling our way around allottmenteering.
    From the excerpts seen, it looks like the type of gardening book I enjoy, not too scientific and going off on tangents.
    Thanks for your blog, which is really helpful to us.

    1. Hi L - I will pop your name in the hat and thanks for commenting.

  7. It's sound an interesting book that I must read it. I really want to read, but it's not easy for me to get it. So far away

    1. Such a shame that I can't op you in the draw Endah but the postage would probably cost more than the book!


Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment - it is great to hear from you and know that there are people out there actually reading what I write! Come back soon.
(By the way any comments just to promote a commercial site, or any comments not directly linked to the theme of my blog, will be deleted)
I am getting quite a lot of spam. It is not published and is just deleted. I have stopped sifting through it and just delete any that ends up in my spam folder in one go so I am sorry if one of your messages is deleted accidentally.
Comments to posts over five days old are all moderated.