Last week we visited a family garden in Manchester—this week we will visit a family garden in Coventry—in the Midlands of England.

Chris Francis’ allotment at the Beachwood/Earlsdon Allotments are near the center of Coventry. Chris was kind enough to give me a tour of her allotment that she has had for 3 years. Chris and a friend share a ½ allotment (10m x 15m)  for which they pay $24/year—or $2 per month

Chris Wilkin with apples in here Coventry, England Allotment.

In the 1800’s this area just south of the center of Coventry was known as “Freeman’s Garden”—hinting at the fact that these have been allotments for perhaps two centuries. At the turn of the last century neighborhoods of Edwardian houses sprung up around and encircle the allotment.

John Wilkin with peas in his garden in Coventry.

Beachwood/Earlsdon Allotments is much larger than the allotment I visited in Manchester and covers an area of 3 or 4 city blocks. They have 180 full (10m x 30m) allotments—many of which have been split in half since that seems to be a size which is more manageable.

John and Chris working in their garden in Coventry.

The first thing that I noticed was the look of permanence: Allotments all had sheds and many had greenhouses. There is even a central shed run by the association where one can warm up a lunch—or share a cup of tea with friends.


Runner beans in the Wilkin garden.

Much like the allotments in Manchester, there is a central shed run by the association where they have an office and where they sell garden supplies like compost and manure.


Chris Wilkin with potatoes in her Coventry garden.

Chris and her partner have more fruit and a greater number of herbs than the allotment I visited in Manchester last week.

Visit a Victory Garden in Manchester England

In her greenhouse she raises:

Crop List:

Purple sprouting broccoli
Swiss Chard
Zucchini (courgettes)—3 types
Potatoes (5 types including Earlies: Maris Piper and Lady Balfour)
Runner Beans
Sweet Corn
Apple Trees
Pear Trees
Herb Garden

Two of their biggest challenges are white cabbage white butterfly (she covers the brasssica beds with netting), carrot root fly (she surrounds the carrot bed with a 24” highs wall of fine mesh; this is effective as the carrot root fly flies close to the ground), and slugs.

Soil & Water
Chris double digs her raised beds and liberally applies compost which she makes onsite, and also uses chicken manure and bone meal. She does not use insecticides nor chemical fertilizers.

In an effort to conserve water, the allotment association doesn’t allow watering with hoses; gardeners are required to use watering cans.

All and all, Chris’ garden is bountiful and I was able to enjoy several wonder meals made from her garden harvest which included potatoes, zucchini peas, salad and a classic English dessert–gooseberry crumble.


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