My life on a Hillside Allotment - by Terry Walton
Terry is the Radio 2 Gardener from the Jeremy Vine show but I came across him in the world of podcasts – first as a guest on the Wiggly Wigglers podcast and then in his own monthly podcast (which you can find on gardenersclick website ). Then when I found out he had written a book I thought I would give it a try.
Terry’s book chronicles his life since he first helped his dad on his allotment in the Rhondda Valley at the age of 4, through getting his own plot at just 11 years old, becoming a teenage entrepreneur (“distributing” his surplus produce from 10 allotments in return for “donations”), and to family life, retirement and becoming a media “star”.
Terry has gone full circle in his gardening philosophy (from being organic because that’s just how it was done, to embracing the chemical revolution, to “seeing the light” in the late 60’s and becoming organic again) and his book is funny, and interspersed with 60 years of gardening wisdom, thrifty tips, and great recipes from his wife Anthea.
The Good - You can’t help but love Terry – he’s the experienced gardener we’d all like to have an allotment next door to. I also highly recommend Terry’s monthly podcast (remember you don’t need an ipod to listen – you can do so on your computer) – and they have started adding video highlights recently too. Its lighthearted, easygoing reading and very entertaining. Terry has a very enquiring mind – he doesn’t presume he knows everything, and if he comes across a new idea he will try it out, so you do get the feeling when he tells you how he does something that its not just an old crusty gardener passing on the “wisdom” of his father which might or might not be the best way to do it, but that he has tested it out for himself. Terry loves life and this shines through in his book – you can’t help being infected by his passion for gardening. Oh and Antheas recipes are brilliant too – Marrow Rum is next on my list to try!
The Bad - This is an autobiography not a reference book (I like that – but some people just want pure facts!). You will learn things (my favourite tip is soaking rhubarb leaves in water to make a stinky juice to water your brassicas with and deter cabbage white butterflies) but if you are looking for a “how to” guide this is not it.
The ugly - There’s nothing ugly about this gentle, heartwarming book, but if you do listen to the podcast I should warn you, Terry has a tendency to rewrite favourite songs with an allotment theme and add a song into every podcast – they can be funny but don’t expect Tom Jones!