The Allotment Specialist - by Alan and Gill Bridgewater

Book Review by Melanie Matthews

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The Allotment Specialist is part of the Specialist Series.   

It has sections on the basics, choosing your plot, sheds tools and water-butts, rotation, weed control, and a year-round activities calendar, and then an A-Z section on each vegetable – how and when to sow, soil and site needs, plant care, harvesting and trouble shooting.

When I first flicked through this book, my response was that it is “Hessayon Lite”.  If you haven’t heard of DG Hessayon and his “Expert Series”, he is a guru!  His books are the best selling gardening books in history. The first book I got when I started my allotment was Hessayon’s Vegetable and Herb Expert and I still use it as my “bible” reference guide - I’ll do a review of it sometime soon.

Anyway – the Allotment Specialist is about half the number of pages and my first thought was “size matters!” – it can’t possibly cover everything you want to know! Gradually I became more positive.  It is a slim book, but it does pack a lot in. Its more up to date than Hessayon and it is aimed specifically at someone who has an allotment (especially someone who is new to it) rather than just the person growing veg at the end of their garden.

The good:  You can pop this in your bag and take it with you to the allotment.  It doesn’t make you feel stupid if you are a complete beginner (which to be honest the Hessayon guides can sometimes). It gives you a lot more information than the back of the seed packet which helps you to know if you are doing things right. It covers every vegetable I could think of and gives you basic information to get started and and if you didn’t have our e-news to give you handy monthly tips, the brief section on what to do each month is a good summary.

The bad: Its a little bit hit and miss. Pests and diseases gets barely half a page plus a 50-100 word piece at the end of each veg page, whereas “preparing the soil” (which is basically digging) gets a double page spread. However it did  contain my favourite bit of the book – where the author says that although you COULD rotavate, flame-throw or spray, in his opinion the best thing to do is roll up your sleeves and dig. Hear hear!

The ugly: After your first or second year this book might become redundant – you’ll want to know more and in more detail.

Specialist Series: The Allotment Specialist by Alan and Gill Bridgewater is available is available from New Holland Publishers. It retails at the bargain price of £4.99. Buy direct from the publisher and enter the discount code BHAF2 at the checkout to receive 20% off AND free P&P. (Offer valid until 31st March 2011.)

My thanks to New Holland Publishers for sending me a review copy of this month’s  book.  Remember I am under no obligation to say nice things – this is my real opinion!

This page was added by Melanie Matthews on 17/02/2011.