Welcome to Sharpen Your Spades.
It’s strange to think but until 2007 I had no interest allotment gardening. I had no interest in gardening at all.
Today, I can’t imagine not having an allotment and not feeling as passionate about it as I do.
My grandfather was a market gardener, and even in retirement he turned all of their garden over to rows of vegetables. Despite spending every other Sunday at their home, playing next to the beds of vegetables with my brother and cousins and eating a home cooked Sunday lunch that boasted all the veg from the garden, it didn’t rub off on me. Not then.
Growing my own started with a packet of tomato seeds, a pot and a tiny back yard and emerged from my passion to cook. As I cooked more, I learned a key lesson – It’s not the complexity of a recipe that makes for an excellent dish but the ingredients that are used to make it.
One year, I decided to grow my own. In early spring I sowed a few tomato seeds and with little knowledge or experience I waited to see what would happen. What followed became an obsession.
In 2007, Carol Klein presented a 6 part series on the BBC – Grow your own veg. The series arrived at the right time. My passion to grow my own had developed further and when this programme all about growing your own vegetables arrived on the TV, I was hooked.
I placed my name on the local allotment list and bought the book accompanying the series.
I’ve had an allotment, in various guises, for nine years but for many reasons it never lasted. In April 2015 I took on my current plot and I’ve never felt so settled.
Like most families, we have busy working lives and it’s easy to understand that the thought of taking on an allotment can be daunting. However, I genuinely believe it’s possible to manage the daily life and keep up with an allotment garden too.
I started sharpenyourspades.com around the same time as I began work on the allotment. It originated as a way to document my progress and clarify my thoughts on growing my own.
It’s come a long way since then – as well as an allotment diary, I write articles on all matters of allotment gardening and growing your own. I’ve become as passionate about the blog as I am about the allotment.
Writing is a key part of my learning. I’m not a horticulturist and have no formal training. I’m just passionate about growing my own fruit and veg. I hope in some way it means I’m able to provide a different perspective on allotment gardening.
I use organic principles. It has it’s frustrations but it’s also fun experimenting. It’s satisfying to get results without resorting to chemical management and control of the food we eat.
My six-year-old daughter, Ava, spends a lot of time with me on the allotment. She loves it. It’s wonderful seeing her excited about the crops we grow together. I want her to have a relationship with food, understand where it comes from and be thrilled eating it. I hope I can inspire others to join us in the great adventure of allotment gardening.
Guest Author: Richard Chivers is an allotment blogger and “grow your own” enthusiast. He manages sharpenyourspades.com , where he writes about all manner of allotment gardening topics, as well as providing updates on his own family allotment, which he works on with his young daughter. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.