The following is written by Helen Gillingham

I live in Wellington, and have been an enthusiastic member of the Transition Town Wellington group since roughly 2008. I really believe in the transition movement, because I feel that it helps to tackle all the things I was moaning about, climate change, increasing our sense of community, recycling and practising the skills we may be loosing, but used to have years ago, e.g. sewing, make do and mend, gardening etc.

However, at the start, I felt there wasn’t much I could offer the group, so I had an idea…I do know how to grow to grow vegetables. I've had an allotment now since 2004, and have had my fair share of crop failures etc, but I also like to read, and practice techniques such as permaculture, that I have gained from books.  So I started offering 4 free talks per year to anyone who wanted to come, and these ran from 2010 to 2016. 

The following are the notes from the talks.  Each section should take you through what is most important to be thinking about at that time of year, so you don’t have to read it all at once! Just read the one with the month closest to that which you are in now, or closest to when you want to start gardening.  A good place to start is either in September, or February.  Or you can just use it as reference for the topic described on the contents menu.

These talks were aimed at beginners, however I found that more experienced people would come, and say that they still picked up something useful.  So I hope that whatever your level of experience, you gain something from these notes.


I don’t profess to know everything, I have just found out what works for me by trial and error, and I always find there are different, interesting ideas, when I ask people to input their stories during the talks.  So nothing you can do is necessarily wrong, gardening is a mass of information and conflicting ideas, so just have a go, and hopefully these notes may help you out if there is a problem, or they may save you time through not making the mistakes I have. I just wish you happy gardening, I hope you end up loving it as much as I do.  At the start I just wanted to eat organic fresh vegetables, and I was surprised how much I ended up enjoying the process of growing it.


Learn how to set up your garden/allotment with lots of theory on the no-dig method, compost, rotation etc. Plus, what vegetables to start planting now. 


This is the one with all the veg! Each vegetable is studied one by one with planting method, soil preparation, pest avoidance etc.


Continuing to look after your vegetables, with what to plant now, to keep your harvest going through the winter, mulching and composting, harvest techniques, and lots of recipes to use your homegrown veg. 


At this time of year, you need to start clearing the crops, protecting the soil for winter, harvesting and storing your veg. These notes give lots of storage advice and recipes. Plus, details of the vegetables you can still plant like garlic.