When we got our Alloment Plot there was one man that we had to get to know - the main man - John Hooper. The Guardian of Garratt Park Allotments.
John was born and raised in Canada and has now lived in the UK for nearly 50 years. He followed a career in project management in heavy engineering and construction, but his passion has always been in the garden. We caught up with John for a bit of a natter about getting into growing your own food and his top tips if you're starting out.
John, How long have you held a plot?
I have been on the Garratt Park allotment site for about 22 years. I have been doing allotments for 35 years. I have been committee chairman and site manager for 12 years.
What got you started with gardening and what led to getting an allotment?
I have gardened all my life, Born on a farm in Canada and grew up in a family where garden veg were a necessary part of the household budget. I have always had a large garden or smallholding in the UK. When I moved into London where I had no significant garden, getting an allotment was a vital part of the equation.
What was the first ever plant you grew?
Don't remember. It was probably tomatoes.
What is your plant nemesis?
What is your favourite vegetable/fruit to grow?
Hard to pick one but tomatoes are one of the top for their variety and wonderful flavour. Also new grown early potatoes.
What is your favourite plant/flower?
Again hard to pick one but peonies are wonderful.
If you were a plant you would be a ...?
Climbing bean - for the view and because I would be delicious
And finally John, can you give us your 'Top Tips' on getting started with growing your own fruit and vegetables.
1. Salads (leaves & lettuce) can be grown quickly and in a small area
2. Early potatoes are very easy and rewarding. Can be grown in a potato bag if you lack garden space
3. A bit more difficult but try tomatoes because they are so delicious
4. Final tip - buy a book for detailed advice
5. Final, final tip - make compost.
Thanks so much John!
We're hoping to catch up with John again soon to see what he's growing this season, and as ever I'm sure he will have some advice for us newbies.