My ‘amazing’ and free garden/allotment planning tools :- updated!

This video introduces a new update to my garden/allotment planning tools, designed for managing small scale fruit and veg production for fun.  I’ve created the tools myself, using a web based database application called Airtable.  Airtable also has applications for smartphones and tablets, with some limitations!  It’s these apps on my phone that really make it worthwhile, because I have constant access to all of my data down on the allotment and can make immediate updates as they happen!

Airtable is free to use with some limitations, but what’s really cool about it is it allows me to share my databases with you, for free too.  You can just browse my databases, or take copies of them.  You can use a copy of my data as a start point or just to play with, or you can can start with an empty copy and add your own, or some combination of the two.

Even better you can start with my database, with all of it’s quirks, and then customise it to your hearts content, deleting columns, adding new ones, changing names etc.  See below for details of how to do all of this!

My ‘amazing’ and free garden/allotment planning tools


So you’ve watched the video and want to get started?  If you want to get a copy of the tools that I demonstrate in this video please click on this link and create an account:

If you just want to browse the tools without creating an account click on this link:

but then if you change your mind and you do want to take a copy of the databases to use for yourself, click this link :

If you want me to do a video showing you all of the details of how the database works under the hood, let me know.

This is an update to an earlier video, that might still be worth watching

If you are new to my allotment videos you might find a bit of context useful. We live in the north west of England, in Lytham St Annes, which I believe is the equivalent of USA Zone 8.

We have three allotments in my family, mine (Steve), my wife’s (Debbie) and my middle daughter’s (Jennie). We also have a small kitchen garden at home. They are all managed in an integrated fashion, so don’t expect to see the usual mix of veg on each plot. I do most of the planning and seed starting. We each have our own plots, but we all help each other out.

Jennie’s plot has been designed as a traditional allotment, but we put a lot of focus on minimising the work we do there.  It’s basically a plant and forget it plot, full of garlic, leeks, onions, potatoes, brassicas, squash, beans and fruit trees. It’s heavily mulched to reduce weeds and easy to water.

Debbie’s plot is mostly full of perennials, it’s a garden plot.  Again we did a lot of work to keep the weeds down and Debbie’s approach is inspired by the TV programme The Ornamental Kitchen garden.

My plot is all about experimental growing, maxium productivity and year round abundance.  As with all of the other plots I did a lot of work to control the weeds, but it’s a high maintenance plot.  I’m always planting, harvesting, experimenting and generally having a great time.

Collectively the plots deliver an amazing abundance of fruit and veg all year round.  Debbie, Jennie and I are effectively self sufficient in veg all year round and in fruit for much of the year.  During winter we have enough surplus to feed a few more of our friends and during the rest of the year we feed up to 22 people.

This video provides an overview: The Big Picture: How and Why We Live The Allotment Life

I do an update of the allotments, roughly one a week, you can find the tours here.

Our approach to allotment life is to: grow as much as we possibly can, to be self-sufficient in veg all year round and in fruit in season, to give away our huge surplus to friends and family, and to have as much fun as possible.  For more on self sufficiency check out these videos:

Debbie and I spend about 4 hours a day, 4 days a week on the plots (on average) and we keep nudging that down as we eliminate non-productive work: like grass cutting, weeding and watering as much as practical. We are both newbie gardeners, only starting the allotments in 2016.

I’m a bit obsessive about the nutrient density of the veg that we grow and making the plots easy to work because it’s through this allotment lifestyle and food that I’ve overcome a debilitating auto-immune disease.

I’m always aware though that it might not last so I make sure that I don’t work too hard, eat as much organic fruit and veg I can and design the plots so that I can still work them if I flare up again.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

4 Responses

  1. Gareth says:

    Hi Steve, Im a complete rookie Gardener and not great with IT I would be very interested in a video explaining how these work. At present it seems like i can view the original data base but cane make it blank to start my own? Anyway your videos are fantastic and really help clearly lay out what you are doing and why so thank you for making them.

  2. Steve Long says:

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve taken early (semi) retirement, not from health issues but because I want to make the most of life while I still have great health. My main passion is climbing and mountaineering but I love gardening – I found your Youtube channel while looking for tips and ideas on customising my polytunnel from First Tunnels. Your website and videos are such a rich source of information – I wasn’t surprised to learn that your pre-retirement job was as a strategist – you have clearly brought that perspective to your retirement! Thanks for all this great advice and information. I love the thinking you’ve put into your seed and planting database, I will certainly have a play with it. Great work and thanks for your generosity!

  3. Thanks, last few years as a strategist, but stated as an engineer, then programmer, systems architect, programme manager etc. Perfect prep for gardening 🙂

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