Allotment Adventures with Lavender & Leeks

Gardening is one of those rare escapisms that brings about a sense of calm from physical labour. Whilst we may not all be touched by the green finger, with the opportunity to spend your days in the great outdoors it’s easy to understand why this is such a popular pastime.

With the summer very much on its way, we thought we would gain some horticultural insight from allotment aficionado, Katie of the popular blog ‘Lavender & Leeks’. To learn how we can make the most of our gardens, and how her listening habits and podcast recommendations inspire her days spent pottering in the sunshine, read on...

Do you have any gardening tips to share as we approach Summer? What flowers and vegetables do well as we move through the seasons? 

Summer can be a real struggle in the garden especially when it’s too hot, last year we saw nearly 2 months without a drop of rain which wasn’t fun. A big tip would be to make sure you have enough water, install a water butt and make sure you water around the bottom of the plant in the morning before the sun has a chance to burn the plant. When it comes to flowers Lavender is a must, not just for its beauty and scent but for the amount of pollinators it brings into the garden. I also love Sunflowers, they absolutely shout Summer with their big yellow faces and again they’ll be swarming with bees! I tend to give leafy salad crops a miss until later in the Summer when it starts to cool, they’ll need constant watering in the Summer and they’ll quickly go to seed if they don’t get enough water.

When you're not working on your allotment, how do you like to spend your time?

Even though I spend most of my spare time up the allotment there are times when it’s raining which means gardening is out of the question completely. You could say I’m a hobby addict because I have quite a few now… I like baking cakes, cross stitching, scrapbooking and sewing my own clothes. My most recent hobby however is knitting, it was my new years resolution to learn to knit and I am absolutely loving it! I’m not quite at that stage where I can focus on watching the TV whilst I knit so the radio is the perfect accessory to have.

Have you any Spring recipes you can share? 

One of the ultimate Spring crops is Rhubarb and I adore it so much! It’s so easy to grow and so versatile in the kitchen, I’ve made jam and gin but my favourite thing to make with it is Rhubarb crumble cake (the recipe can be found over on my blog). I’ve also currently got some over wintered leeks that will need digging up soon to make way for the climbing beans, these will be made into a delicious leek and potato soup to be stored in the freezer for those cold Winter months.

Are you attending any shows or events this year?

Spring and Summer can be a very busy time in the garden but it’s also an extremely busy time for our business too. We tour various garden shows from April until September nearly every weekend with our vintage gardenalia and handmade metalwork. This year we are attending more RHS shows including Chatsworth, Hampton Court, Malvern Spring and Tatton which we are very excited about! I remember visiting Hampton Court 2 years ago and being so overwhelmed with all the stalls and the amount of plants on offer, there was so much to see and lots of walking to do but it really was a gardener’s paradise. We also visit smaller local garden shows like Woburn Abbey Garden Show and Toby’s Garden Festival at Powderham Castle which are simply more compact but lovely shows to visit especially if you don’t like the crowds which gather at those bigger RHS shows.

What's your favourite time of year in the garden? 

My favourite time in the garden would have to be Spring, even though it’s by far one of the busiest for me. All those hopes and dreams that you’ve been holding in through the Winter are slowly coming alive and the allotment starts to turn green and lush. I just love walking down to the plot and seeing all my beautiful tulips waving back at me and listening to the birds singing in the nearby trees. It’s the time of year when us gardeners awake from a slumber eager to get growing and I just love it!

What's your favourite part of the allotment to work on? 

That’s a very tricky question because I love it all! However I do love my flower patch, I added it into my plans 3 years ago now and I feel like it’s only just establishing itself. It’s comprised of mainly annuals that I grow for cutting or drying with a few taller perennials and biennials placed around the edge to help create a barrier from my neighbours. Although I’d have to say my favourite part about this space is being able to sit down in the deckchair with a cup of tea for a spare five minutes in the Summer and just surround myself amongst all the homegrown flowers... I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

What makes the Roberts Revival suit your listening habits? 

One of the best things about gardening is that you can really lose yourself in those outdoor jobs. I often head up the allotment to de-stress or to try and calm myself down and the radio always come with me to keep me company. You can place it anywhere you like and get on with those important jobs, whether that’s pottering in the greenhouse, weeding the vegetable beds or harvesting an endless amount of black currants. You’ll often find me laughing out loud to jokes or dancing around the plot and singing along to my favourite tunes… although it’s usually in the mornings when no one else is on the allotment site!

You mention you enjoy listening to the radio, do you listen to podcasts too? If you had the opportunity to make your own podcast, what would you feature?

My go to radio station at the moment is BBC Radio 2, however I’ve just been introduced to the world of podcasts and I’m a little addicted to them now. I’m particularly enjoying the Plant Based Podcast (by Ellen Mary and Michael Perry) as well as the Deliciously Ella Podcast. They are usually rather long so they are perfect to listen too whilst you are busy in the garden. I’ve actually been thinking about creating my own gardening based podcast to be recorded right here on the allotment to coincide with my Youtube videos and blog posts. I haven’t planned anything out just yet but I’d love them to be informative and packed with gardening tips and inspiration as well as making it personal with life stories and maybe a few interviews in there too. I just love sharing my experiences so this would be the perfect way to express them!