Joe Swift only got his allotment last year, so when you buy this book, you are getting the wisdom of a single season's vegetable growing. This might make some people horrified; for me, I really like Joe Swift, I think he's friendly, and enthusiastic, and he gets his kids involved, and he's just not fake like a lot of people on TV. He also draws on the experience of other growers throughout the book like his friend Cleve West, Joy Larkcom, veg queen, and Peter Whiting, Garden News' allotmenteer of the year 2007.
It's got a bit at the beginning about starting off - digging, clearing weeds, rules of allotments - and then the main body of the book is what to do in each season. It's a very simple, friendly book, and exactly what you'd expect from him. He just makes you feel like you can get out there and do it, that it's not some kind of complicated art it will take you years to learn.
One problem though, is that it's hard to look things up without resorting to the index, as it's organised chronologically, and even when you do find the page you want, the information isn't organised in sections. So you have to read the whole section to find what you want. And I am only giving 4 stars because of that, as I think most people would want to be able to find info on a particular crop quickly.
But on the other hand, it makes a really motivating read. It's got loads of pictures, which I do think is pretty handy when you are starting off because you can see in stages how he makes a runner bean structure etc.
I think this book will be appealing to beginning allotment growers who find the longer, more comprehensive books like Joy Larkcom's a bit off-putting. I liked it, but I would still rather go for Mark Diacono's Veg Patch, also just out this spring. Joe Swift really describes the experience of having an allotment, though, and that's this book's real strength.
on 9 June 2009
As a new allotment gardener I had purchased other allotment books before this was published, but this is so much better, love Joes chatty style and non scary info on the setting up and growing on an allotment. Its written from the point of view of someone completly new to veg growing and does not talk down to you. Wish it was out earlier before I wasted money on other books. Well done Joe & BBC!!!
on 12 May 2009
Fabulous book, I bought it for my husband who has had an allotment for a few years, easy to read, jargon free and very informative. Excellent book, you might have guessed I read it myself as well.
on 22 March 2010
Having just taken on an allotment for the first time, it's great to go through Joe Swift's experiences from his first attempts at allotmenteering. It's a great confidence-builder on how to get your plot up and running and learn what worked for Joe and what didn't. Some great tips in planning out your plot,as well as hints on which varieties of seed and plant to grow. I'ts just a case of putting the theory into practice now!!
on 26 October 2012
I just love, love, love this book. I was unsure what to expect but what I found was sensible, well thought out and great advice, illustrations and surprisingly inventive ideas. Its truly a 'down to earth' experience and I found myself using the ideas and adapting them to my needs as quickly as I read them on my new allotment extension. It has pride of place where it is easily accessible - on my coffee table, no-one is allowed to move it, the only other book I have to hand at all times is the also wonderful The Polytunnel Handbook by Andy McKee and Mark Gatter.
Go on get it...its lovely.
on 26 June 2012
If you enjoyed the series on Joe's allotment on Gardener's World you'll love this book. Joe takes you through his first year on the plot from acquiring it to making it productive with all the ups and downs along the way. It isn't a guide on what to do and when(although there are little snippets on this), there are plenty of other books out there for that purpose, it's basically a journal along the way. Plenty of good photos and in his very easy style it's a good read and inspiring.