‘Minding my Peas and Cucumbers: Quirky Tales of Allotment Life’ by Kay Sexton


This charming book captures the escapades on Kay Sexton’s allotment site and her own battle to move beyond plot sitting, co-working, and volunteering to become a plot holder herself. It’s written with skill and humour and you cannot stop yourself from becoming enchanted by the allotment holders as their narratives unfold. There’s a little bit of all of us in these pages, and a little bit of who we wish to become. My allotment goal is to be Celia, but I’m just not stylish or knowledgeable enough.

This book differs from the usual gardening and allotment how-to books. It reaches a lovely balance between memoir, cookbook, and gardening instruction – and it’s such an easy and delightful read. Allotment gossip on Sexton’s site is far more intriguing than on my own where we usually discuss who the latest casualty of the Bunny Uprising has been, and who has the most waterlogged plot (it’s us, by the way). Here there’s intrigue enough to keep you reading.

It’s also a good introduction to some of the stiff rules and regulations that can accompany a plot. Inspections sound terrifying, and makes me fully appreciate the casual and lenient nature of my own site’s allotment association. It also makes me realised how lucky we were to get offered a plot within a matter of weeks. It seems that in a busy metropolis such as London you can be waiting a decade or more for your name to reach the top of the list. The way around this, as Sexton demonstrates, is to become a co-worker, plot sitter, or volunteer, but this leaves you needing to balance investment with returns as all your efforts benefit someone else’s plot.

Recipes are dotted throughout the book, usually at the end of chapters, and I’m looking forward to trying a few of them including, radish Pizzicato, lovage and lentils, baked Radicchio Di Treviso, and purple sprouting broccoli hash. There’s enough recipes to suit most palates, and I may have to re-plan our beds to accommodate the produce we’ll need!

As for gardening advice, Sexton offers a host, including excellent advice for novices on what tools and equipment to buy, how to survive a plot inspection, handy tips on container gardening, planting to survive the summer holidays, and how to get through the glut of vegetables that inevitably occurs when you have a plot.

All in all, this is an utterly charismatic book. I bought the Kindle edition, but I believe the paper version is beautifully set with fonts, diagrams and tables. I actually felt a little disappointed to reach the end. It’s definitely a book I’m looking forward to coming back to and reading again.

  • Publisher: Summersdale Publishers Ltd (2011)
  • ASIN: B00MK37PHG

Available to buy online on sites such as Amazon and Abe Books,

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