The Growers Diaries: Growers

The Growers Diaries: Danni Gallacher

Danni Gallacher

Danni Gallacher is an organic, no-dig grower, crafting and maintaining an incredible permaculture style allotment at her site in Meersbrook, Sheffield.

Started growing 2014
Favourite plant to grow Strawberries
Biggest learning curve Protecting from pests
Favourite CANNA product BIOCANNA Bio Terra Plus

This season has been a bit of a weird one!

My allotment is next to the woods which means wildlife eats everything, this gives you extra challenges in keeping everything safe. I was originally a massive house plant fan and since I ran out of space, I moved to the garden and then into my allotment. I never dreamed of owning of a garden or allotment but 4 years later here I am. Two years ago I began sharing my journey on Instagram and people resonate with my real and honest posting which I really like.

My site is organic no dig and I use permaculture which is working with nature as much as possible! Working with nature rather than against it is how I like to garden. Putting plants in positions where they need it, growing different vegetables in patches and letting them grow together to prevent pests and making the environment a little bit healthier.

Growing food for myself is a great bi-product of my growing, it isn´t my main reason for having my allotment space – it is also great for my mental health and being outside in nature.

I trialled BIOCANNA last year on my tomato bed, testing BIOCANNA vs non BIOCANNA and I noticed a massive difference in a better yield and greater harvest. Also that my soil was much better condition after using the BIOCANNA substrate, noticing a difference in the organic matter coming through and making a difference to my plants as a result.

I like gardening because it is similar to skateboarding! It teaches you patience and that you can´t get everything at once; you have to put time, effort and dedication into seeing an end result.

I have found new plants popping up around my pond, I don´t know what they are and I didn´t plant them! But it feels like a homely place.

This month my strawberries have been growing really well. I have been running a 50/50 experiment with BIOCANNA Flores, half my strawberries are in BIOCANNA and the other half are not. I have noticed how much bigger the BIOCANNA plants are, since they have started flowering I would guess they are triple the amount of flowers than the other half.

I am growing my onions in a bath tub this year. They are not doing very well as I get leaf-miner every year. You can see the marks where the fly lays its eggs and then little miners burrow down into the leaf and gets into the bulb which ruins all your onions.

Broad bean flowers smell like sweetpeas, they have a really lovely perfume! My parsnips have germinated really well, I followed a trick I found on Instagram where you put down a plank of wood after you have watered and sewn, which essentially keeps in the moisture a bit more. Sometimes you hear about hacks and you are unsure if they will work, but it really worked!

All the plants inside in my greenhouse are going to be planted out in the allotment in the next few weeks. Then the beds inside are going to be filled with BIOTERRA and it will be where I plant my tomatoes.

I have got a plant variety called Melon Mangomel – it is meant to be a mango tasting melon and it is what I will train up the beam in the greenhouse.

My immediate plans is just getting out the stuff in the greenhouse and getting it all into the beds so it will be a task for sure!

Two years ago I drew up my dream allotment, it had the ramp and pizza oven at the back and now I have my dream allotment which is funny!

Nasturtiums are one of my favourite seeds to collect as you can use them in cooking as they are quite peppery. The flowers are also nice in salads with their peppery taste.

I am hoping my white foxgloves self seed across the beds. I am sowing my seeds ready for winter so I have lots of salads growing, I have some chard, tatsoi, pak choi. I also has some tomatoes growing which did not get blight which is good.

I found the first female flower growing in my melon vine, I planted two of these melons a few months ago so I need to find a male flower and get it pollinated.

I have been harvesting some of my grapes this month, they are quite sweet and nice.

I have harvested kilos and kilos of beans off my archway, I will get quite a few more yet as they will produce up until the frost I think. I harvested all the oens I could reach but I could not reach any more!

My sunflowers are impressive. I had one that should have been way taller but the squirrels have been climbing it to get the seeds. I am 5ft 1 and I think my biggest sunflower is maybe 10ft?

I have harvested loads of broccoli which is tender stem and the kale is looking quite good. I also grew a baby boo pumpkin which are nice little ornamentals and oyu can back them aswell and use them as a sweet squash.

I will be harvesting lots the next month, lots of beans and courgettes, preserving what I can. Then sowing lots of seeds for autumn and getting started for the next season already.

Everything has been a little slower than usual this year.

It was a really wet and late start to the summer so it was quite cold to start with. I think all the plants took quite a long time to catch up. This is the perfect time in September to sowing seeds, as all your flowers are starting to die back you can save the seeds from them. Saving seeds is great! Not only is it free, but these are used to growing in your environment and they tend to be a healthier crop.

I have had quite a problem with squirrels this year which is quite unusual for me. I am right next to the woodlands and they come over and steal my corn on the cobs and sunflowers; they have taken quite a lot this season and I haven´t got to have as much.

I think people like failures, it makes people feel better about their growing so it is good to be honest when I am sharing everything that has gone wrong as well as when everything has gone well.

My site is an organic allotment site, I use a method which is working with nature as much as possible rather than against it. No dig gardening is really about protecting the soil a little bit more. When you don´t dig the soil, you aren´t disturbing all the micro-organisms and the bacteria the soil has worked to generate over time. Because I am a no dig gardener, I use a lot of mulch over my beds and with my new wood chipper I can make more myself which is exciting. I use all the wood chips I make to mulch around the plants in some of my beds, this helps keeps the moisture in and all the organic matter will help feed the soil.

This is the first time I have ever grown a Turks Turban squash, I only grew it as I saw them on Instagram and I grew my first one.

My biggest successes this year have been my strawberries and my squash. I did a bit of an experiment with my BIOCANNA feed, I did half my strawberry bed with BIOCANNA and half without. The starwberries in the BIOCANNA feed just went rampant compared to the ones without so I did notice a massive difference! Alongside using the BIOCANNA Flores feed on my strawberries, I have been using Bio RHIZOTONIC on some of my plants that are not getting off to the best start so I use it as a foliar spray to perk up my plants.

I am dead-heading all of my flowers, this is to stop them from going to seed as when they make seed it puts all the energy into creating all the seed rather than making the nice flowers. I do this weeding and dead-heading all season, the more you dead-head, the more flowers you get.

This space is just lovely to hang out in, I created it to be a space I can spend time in and enjoy as well as harvest food from.

At the moment I am concentrating on sowing more seeds for spring, once the leaves start dying back I can prune back the hedges. I have even taken on the plot next door which I am very excited about so I am doubling my growing space for next year! Whenever I first get a new space, I spend a few months observing the space to see what is growing and what animals are coming in. I have watched the space for a while before I got it so I have already started a little bit of work. I am thinking lots of wildflowers, some winding paths, a couple of ponds and lots of shelter for animals. I am really looking forwards to that project.