Real Men Sow

Celebrating National Allotment Week 2011 – Featured Allotmenteerist #5 Martin Searle

To celebrate National Allotment Week 2011, I’ve decided to profile some of my favourite allotment holders. Last, but most definitely not least, is Martin Searle.

Martin’s a Twitter friend of mine, and well worth a follow @MartinDSearle.

I’ve really enjoyed reading the answers to my questions, so a massive thanks to the five allotmenteerists. Its been really interesting to learn about other people’s take on allotment life.

So without further ado, over to Martin and his less than suitable footwear!

Where is your allotment and how long have you rented it?
The plot is down a bumpy lane behind a train track (locally known as Suicide Lane!) and sandwiched been warehouses and a new housing estate. Not the most romantic location but fit for purpose and secure. I share it with my in-laws, brother in-law and wife. We have had it since March 2011 but my home garden has been converted with raised beds since we moved here in 2007 so I feel like I have had a plot for quite a while.

What is your favourite thing about having an allotment?
Favourite things appear to come in threes for me: sharing the allotment with my friends and family, lovely grub and behaving like a child, especially when there is a fire on the go.

What is your least favourite thing about having an allotment?
Another three: waiting can be hard, disappointment and remembering to water/feed.

What is the best veg growing tip you’ve picked up and where did it come from?
Grow what you want to eat. For example, this year I grew globe artichokes and I had a tiny amount to eat, nowhere near productive for effort/space to return ratio but it is something I have enjoyed far more than endless rows of carrots.

This tip was from Mark Diacono (Otter Farm Blog) after one of his workshops at River Cottage HQ. It has shaped my philosophy towards growing although I have long way to go before I reach Mark’s level of gardening.

In a roundabout way I think his tip was get a philosophy for growing and it will see you through the darker days. Whether your philosophy is to grow to save money, get fit or just get away from it all it is an important thing to remember why you are doing it.

What is your favourite fruit or veg to grow on the allotment?
I’ve really enjoyed growing herbs this year. The Florence fennel has been great. The excitement of lifting a whole corn cob from the plant to barbeque ranks very highly as does my asparagus crop.

Got a tasty allotment recipe to share?
Possibly an obvious one but I really like Jamie Oliver’s ketchup as it is always great for using up ingredients although I am yet to produce my own ginger.

What items or tools could you not do without on the plot?
The composter, it eats everything, save trips up the dump and makes everything grow so much better. I don’t think home or plot should be without one! A wheel barrow is a great investment as it makes lifting so much easier and doubles up as a great seat, and a fire pit is so much fun and really helps you get back to nature.

What was your biggest or most embarrassing allotment hiccup?
My primary footwear are flip flops (see picture), which often results in a few near misses and injuries. I should remember to pack sturdy footwear and then I would receive less dubious looks from my allotment neighbours.

If you had one piece of advice for an allotment beginner, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to just have a go or try something different you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

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  1. Grace & FlavourAugust 12, 2011 at 6:10 amReply

    Thanks Martin/Jono – lovely article, thanks.

    Confirms some of our thoughts for our community garden (yes we should grow what people will buy but we should also have fun growing some stuff we want to and space be damned!) and really empathise with the fire thing – we now have over 100 members if we include our DofE volunteers, and the boys in particular have a complete blast when there’s a bonfire… bearing in mind that most of our ‘boys’ are retired men.

  2. Martin SearleAugust 12, 2011 at 9:35 pmReply

    Hi Grace and Flavour,
    Thank you for your comments but all credit goes to Jono, the Michael Parkinson of the allotment world.
    I look forward to investigating your website and good to see D of E still going strong!



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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.


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