Can You Dig It

Urban Secret Gardens explores spaces, ideas, tips and inspirations.

Our resident Allotment Garden Guru

Marija Main - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Leslie St. Community Gardens is comprised of 200 individual plots and the gardeners who tend them range from novice beginners to seasoned experts. As soon as I started working my plot, I became aware that we were blessed with our very own allotment "Guru Gardener" - Michael Bradt. He has gardened at the allotments for 20+ years and has learned every trick, tip and recommendation regarding organic allotment gardening.

Just the other day at the gardens, a group of about 10 gardeners standing around the watering tap discussing whether it's the right time to dig up our garlic. As everyone was not sure, we all unanimously agreed that no one should start pulling garlic out of the ground until we consult with Michael. Everyone agreed that "Michael knows" and with that acknowledgement, we all went back to our plots. 

Last week, I ran into Michael and asked him about whether it's okay to go ahead and dig up my garlic - he agreed that now is good but also proceeded to teach me about the meticulous craft of removing miniature garlic cloves from a garlic flower to encourage the seed production. I was enthralled with his technique, using dull tiny sewing scissors to extract the little cloves.

Michael is an expert tomato grower whose tomatoes are the envy of all of the Leslie St. gardeners. He harvest seeds and starts his plants indoors. Many of his favourite varieties have been passed on to him by fellow gardeners up to 20 years ago. It is wonderful to talk tomatoes with Michael - I never realized how interesting, nostalgic and inspiring a good tomato lineage story can be!

Equally impressive is Michael's love for flowers. He grows a combination of perennials, annuals and edibles. 
I have thoroughly enjoyed learning from Michael, and have enjoyed swapping seeds and sampling many amazing veggies from the garden. Last week my husband and I grilled one of his awesome zucchini's and made a salad from his first crop of beans. I have to admit that I'm secretly waiting to sample one of his heirloom tomatoes that should be ready in a couple of weeks!

If you are perplexed with a garden dilemma, feel free to send me your question via: or click on "comments" below this post and I will run your question by our Allotment Garden Guru :)

In the meantime, I invite you to tour Michael's amazing allotment garden featured on our website:


Stephanie Ehmke commented on 28-Jul-2016 01:00 AM
I really enjoy that you introduced us to such an interesting garden guru. It's always great to know someone with so much insight and knowledge. The pictures you included helped me see exactly how great Michael's garden is!
Urban Secret Gardens commented on 29-Jul-2016 11:41 PM
Thanks, Stephanie,
Glad you enjoyed the garden tour. Thanks for visiting my blog!
Michael commented on 07-Aug-2016 12:56 PM
Really interesting insight on allotment gardening. It was nice of you to interview, Michael, and get some helpful tips about gardening from him. Loved your images and your overall write up. Would love to learn more from Michael. Perhaps next time a video interview? Great post.
Urban Secret Gardens commented on 08-Aug-2016 10:06 AM
Thanks and glad you liked Micheal's tips - I think Michael should have his own video channel. Will chat with him next time I see him in the gardens.
Mark commented on 08-Aug-2016 10:26 AM
Thank you for posting this up, really enjoyed reading your interview with Michael and his tips and tricks.
Btw your micro photo shots of the plants are beautiful. What type of camera are you using?
Urban Secret Gardens commented on 08-Aug-2016 03:07 PM
I have used my Nikon D200 for many years but I have to admit... these shots were all taken with my iPhone 6S! I am thinking about a new digital camera, but also having a great time getting to know my smart phone's camera capabilities. Might not need to invest thousands towards a new camera after all :)

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