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Book Reviews

Lost the Plot, the book published by allotment junkie open on a textured surface to show inner pages and the cover


‘Lost the Plot, a truly comprehensive wonderfully engaging guide to GYO by Allotment Junkie’.


‘A stunningly presented and passionately written narrative which will both enthuse and inspire beginners and provide a fresh perspective for seasoned growers. As a keen ‘allotmenteer’, I enjoyed the rare glimpse into the toils of achieving a perfect plot: from the initial mammoth task of hacking bramble thickets as dense as the amazonian jungle, to the joy of harvesting your first crop (of often weirdly shaped veg) and finally the contentment of providing an organic alternative for your family.

‘Lost the Plot’ is packed full of exquisite photographs, constructive advice, positive reflection and enthusiastic ambition’.

Chris – Committee Chair, Southern Allotments Manchester.

‘Good friend and fellow food lover Allotment Junkie blazes the trail for all of those with (or wanting) a new allotment. His site is a beacon in the ‘Grow your own’ revolution whether it’s a 50ft plot or a few tubs in your back yard. Check him out, He’s arguably the coolest thing to enter this arena since Monty Don was in short trousers. ‘Lost the Plot’ has totally blown me away. The graphics, the photographs and most importantly the content make this one of the finest reference books that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in many years.

I tip my hat to you AJ, you have genuinely produced a masterpiece, up there with the great Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Well done my friend and thank you…..’

The Hedgerow Alchemist

‘A welcome addition to the range of books on the pleasures and pitfalls of taking on an allotment.

Paul, with input from his family, has produced an excellent book which guides the novice allotment holder through the first couple of years from taking on an allotment. Unlike many others, he doesn’t view the exercise through rose coloured glasses and his practical experiences will be godsend to anyone contemplating joining the allotment revolution. The book is profusely illustrated and is a step by step guide to enable you to gain the most from your allotment whilst retaining your sanity. It is easy to read and will inspire others to start growing their own fresh produce.

Lost the Plot is thoroughly recommended and we look forward to the next publications in the series’.

The National Allotment Society (NSALG)

‘This is a delightful book. With cheerful pictures and rustic feel, “Lost the Plot” is certainly a terrific, easy to read, informative addition to any Grow your Own library. Now we’ve had a taster, we can’t wait for the sequel. Well done!’

This book in 3 words: Accessible, Friendly, Practical.

‘Step by Step books are often a little prescriptive & bossy and can feel a bit like being back at school with an overbearing biology teacher on a long Thursday afternoon, but this book, written by Manchester’s Allotment Junkie – Paul – is far, far from it. With it’s friendly, family orientated tone, it draws you into the story of one family’s determination to be more self sufficient, for both financial, romantic and foodie reasons. Even in the muddiest, wettest, lowest moments, there is something positive to be learned and Paul passes on his tips & hints gained through experience in a warm and lovely to read voice.

It’s like an expert giving you pointers, but a really friendly, accessible expert who isn’t afraid to tell you where he went wrong so you won’t make the same mistakes. Wife Claire gets involved, as does daughter Maya, with lots of images of them all getting stuck in and developing their South Manchester allotment through one of the coldest, wettest periods we’ve seen in years. The book is full of inspirational and very personal imagery of their plot and adventures, with a real timeline running through the chapters. I loved the fun headings such as “Defend Your Veg!” and “Name That Tune” but there’s also technical information in there too, on things like soil pH and how to plan the space. There’s also a useful interactive section at the back for notes and planning. Now all I have to do is get more than seven days in the Moregeous week, find my plot and I’m off!

Seriously, if you’re thinking of turning from an Allotment Virgin into an Allotment Junkie, this is a cracking self-published book to whet your appetite and get you started’.


‘For anyone thinking of starting their allotment, this book is a sure dummy for allotmenteers! I think everyone has to have a copy of this as a starter to whet their appetite and what they are going to get into. Packed with well illustrated pictures, a great team and easy to read, it will certainly inspire you.

This book should be a welcome pack for every member who signs up for a plot!’


‘Lost the Plot’ is a self confessed ‘allotment junkie’s’ celebration of growing food. It is a semi-autobiographical account of a family’s odyssey from taking on a barren plot to laden, sometimes over laden plate. It is an enthusiastic and unpretentious account of trial and error, classic mistakes, learning by experience, beginner’s tips and secrets of success. It is beautifully laid out with sumptuous photographs and captures the fun and excitement of sowing and growing without underestimating the effort and hard work involved in working an allotment.

This book will inspire and encourage new and prospective plot holders and charm the rest. It is the first in a series. More will be eagerly awaited’.

Maureen, Secretary Southern Allotments Society

Book Recommendation!

‘I recently discovered this book and was very pleased that it was produced by someone local to me. ‘Lost The Plot Part One: Taking on a plot’ is a photographic journal of a families experience of allotmenteering. The photographs are amazing, the design is fresh and innovative and the writing is honest and relevant. I found myself relating so much to this book. I’d developed an allotment 8 yrs ago with my partner and young child, so I found myself reminiscing about those times. Now I’ve taken on a plot again (this time as a solo venture) , ‘Lost The Plot’ reminds me of the mistakes not to make. It’s an honest and entertaining account of the first 3 years of a plot, produced with great style , a must for every bookshelf! It also contains some handy allotment planning pages and planting calenders’.

@allotmentjunkie Just got my copy of your fantastic book – Lost the Plot. You’ve done an amazing job with it. What an inspiration, can’t believe how hard you guys have worked.

The Burgess Family

From an overgrown suburban allotment plot to the productive beds that this allotment is today – “Taking on a Plot” – the first book in the three-book series “Lost the Plot”, takes us on a journey of one family’s quest for fresh, guilt-free and organic fruit and vegetables. The book is an inspirational guide, and I do not take this term lightly, full of images, advice and tips for both the seasoned allotmenteer and the novice alike and it illustrates, literally, how to achieve success from day one. As it says on the cover, this book is a photographic journal of allotmenteering and it is an (almost) autobiographical account of the author and his family taking on a rundown allotment plot, with clear sound and precise advice, tips and hints, also as to the pitfalls, written in a very easy style.

The great beauty of this book is that it does not throw about a lot of science with which to bamboozle the reader. Instead it is all handles in a manner that is easy to read and to understand and it is beautifully illustrated with full colour photos to boot. The book and cover are 100% compostable; not that you would ever want to do that, I am sure. It is printed and bound in England on paper from responsible sources. If I am not mistaken the print that has been used may, more than likely, be vegetable based and this would make this a very green book indeed even though the cover is mostly brown. A real great book and I hope to have the honour, pleasure and privilege to also be able to review Part Two and Part Three in the “Lost the Plot” series.

Although I don’t generally rate books on the one to five scale as books are very much a personal thing I would, if I could, however, give this book gladly a six out of five.

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro) © 2013

I loved Lost the Plot. So much of you has gone into it. I have had my allotment for 6 years and still learnt plenty. As well as the information and explanations, I loved the graphics and back grounds, I am so glad I got it and will recommend it to all.

Sally Dodd

Having known AJ since we were both in short trousers I really wanted to say something eloquent & from the heart but I truly believe that the best thing that I could say as a ‘non-plot holder’ is…..’Having read this book, my name is now going straight on the waiting list of my local allotments’. The prospect of a plot is no longer daunting because I’ll learn from AJ’s successes & failures and when I fail I’ll take heart in his resolution & doggedness to succeed. You’ve given me inspiration to join the green revolution & if I cannot get a plot then I may well dig my lawn up. Thanks AJ xx

Paul Clarke

I got my “lost the plot” book yesterday and I’m very happy. Best book on allotments around.

Shane Meehan

Great book – we love it thanks AJ

Francesca Keogh

I agree, I’ve loads of allotment books and this is amongst the best!

Andrew Bradwell

A massive thanks to my old pal from the old days at Sunderland uni who sent me a copy of his fantastic book Allotment Junkie Lost The Plot, when I told him I wanted to grow some better fruit & veg in my back garden. I would like to also say that it’s a great book, easy to read, fantastically illustrated and full of great info and tips. I would heartily recommend this book to all interested in growing their own or as a gift for friends or relatives. There is a big learning curve for a complete beginner like me and I still have lots to learn – thanks for sending this! I enjoyed reading it enormously.

Hope to see you some time soon. Cookie

“Beautiful book – great pictures and very helpful. Doing very well at the local library 🙂 (Although some of the photos gave me a touch of plot envy – how do you keep it so tidy??!!!) Great book.”


Delighted with your book, hubby’s over the moon with it, couldnt keep it for santa coming lol….thank you so much x

Eileen Lambie Ruddy

Knowledge injected with humour….perfect recipe 🙂

Lorraine Morton