Tuesday 29 October 2013

Book review - "The Allotment Planner" by Matthew Appleby

A short while ago I was contacted by a representative of the Aurum Publishing Group, asking if I would be interested in having a review copy of a new book by Matthew Appleby called "The Allotment Planner - More than 200 ways to enjoy your plot, month by month". As you can see, I agreed, so here goes...

My first impression of the book was that it was in "diary style". It has a hardback cover, a built-in ribbon bookmark and an elastic band arrangement to keep it closed when not in use. It seems durable, and on closer inspection it is evidently intended to be taken to one's plot and used there, rather than being left at home. I had also expected (from the title) that it would be arranged in a month-by-month format, with jobs to do on an allotment arranged in chronological order. Although it is roughly like that, this is not a dominant feature of the book. Instead the book is really a list of ideas for things to do on your plot (or related to it) arranged only very vaguely in seasonal order - for instance the "Build a bonfire" subject appears in the September section, whereas I would have expected it to be in the November one (Guy Fawkes' night / bonfire night?), and the "Plant a herb garden" bit is in the December section!

Thinking further about this, I'm not sure if there is any real logic to the order in which the subjects are addressed. and it is a very wide range of subjects, ranging from "Share your plot with the world" (about blogging, in other words), through "Crack down on crime" (ways to deter or reduce allotment-related crime and vandalism), to "Get qualified and learn Latin"! Now whilst the list of subjects covered is impressive (200 different ones, presumably), the depth of coverage is disappointingly superficial. No-one can really do justice to the subject of "Avoid the glut" in less than one page. I think the reader of this book will have to see it as simply a list of ideas that will need to be researched more fully elsewhere.

The book contains a number of nice photos chosen to illustrate the subjects covered, but with a few exceptions (e.g. "Building raised beds"), they are of a cosmetic nature rather than a practical one. I feel that the claim on the back cover that with the aid of this book you can "Find out how to grow the tastiest crops, keep the busiest bees, produce the largest pumpkins and make your own jam and wine" is very over-optimistic. It is definitely a book for the beginner and not the expert!

To order The Allotment Planner at the discounted price of £12.00 including p-and-p* (RRP: £14.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk 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.


If you would like to have my review copy of this book, please leave me a comment ON THIS POST, including the words "Allotment Planner", before 12:00 on 5 November 2013.

The winner will be chosen at random from all qualifying entries and notified via this blog.


  1. I'm not reading this yet as I have the book to review too!

  2. How odd that it's so muddled. It doesn't sound quite right for beginners either. Surely beginners need more information rather than less? Would be interested to know what it says about blogging.

  3. Allotment Planner - I should have one! Even now I wonder when I will seed and plant zucchinis and squashes next year; so, hopefully, this book shall help me through this:) I do not know if this giveaway is open even for foreign gardeners; however, we can make a deal over post fees, or, you may come to Prague!

  4. Allotment books always tend to put me off with having such a small plot. However I do tend to look through them when browsing in bookshops.

  5. Aha! I see the blogger outreach is finally out there on the interweb ;)

    Your review is the one which most closely matches my thoughts about the book so far...

  6. Hi I would love a copy of the Allotment Planner, I need all the help I can get, :)


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