Sjef’s garden

I hire a big allotment garden of 100 m2 (120 sq yard) in the east of The Netherlands.

A central path and side-paths of paving stones divide the garden into 6 equal parts.

In each part I grow different plants. In part 1 potatoes, in part 2 cabbage plants, in part 3 root vegetables etc. Next year I grow each vegetable one part further. After 6 years the vegetables grow in the same parts again. This is called crop rotation. Due to crop rotation there are less ground diseases. And the garden soil is not exhausted due to “always the same plants” .

The soil in the garden consists of sand.  It is easy to work with spade, hoe or rake but plants need regular watering to grow. See photos below.

Behind my house I have also a vegetable garden of about 60 m2 (72 sq yard).


Big allotment garden, July 1, 2019


Left half:

In the front part there are home grown leeks (front row), big and small lettuce plants, a rhubarb plant and plant beds with small leek plants.

Mini leeks have been planted in plant beds in the garden soil. They grew big under a greenhouse tunnel of transparent corrugated plate. These leeks will be planted in round holes soon.


In the middle part there are onion plants, carrots, beetroots and chicory (witloof) plants.

At this photo (side view) there are 3 “kinds” of onion plants;

  • At the far left side, next to the side path, there is 1 row of onions, grewn from onion sets planted on March 1.
  • The central row grew from onion sets planted on April 4.
  • The right side row has been planted at May 1.

Around and between all onion plants, a layer of hay has been put on the soil (most of this hay is gone now, digested). Many onion plants of March 1 show curling leaves. A few onion plants of April 4 have curling leaves. Onion plants of May 1 have straight leaves.

Some onion plants have toppled leaves, ready to harvest.

These onion plants have been grown from seeds; sown indoors on moist toilet paper, mini onions were planted in the garden soil. This year many sown onion plants died.

Next year I intend to plant the mini onions in small bottomless flower pots in the garden soil.

In this part winter carrots grow next to onions. At the right side 2 rows of Chicory plants (witloof).


In the rear part, there is a cabbage cage “with no lid on”. There were Cauliflower plants and Broccoli plants in the cage. The cabbage cage protected the cabbage plants against the Cabbage White butterflies. These butterflies usually lay their eggs on the leaves of cabbage plants. The eggs turn into caterpillors that eat much cabbage material. When using a cabbage cage, this does not happen.

At the “far” corner (rear) there is a heap of cow manure under a roof of light green corrugated plate. This roof prevents the manure from leaching of nutrients during rainy weather.

In the cabbage cage there are small bush bean plants. Soon I will lay dry hay around the bean plants, against drying out.

At the right side of the cabbage cage there are lowered bottomless flower pots with small cabbage plants in it. Thanks to these flower pots, watering is very easy; the water flows to the roots of the plants.

Curly cale plants are eaten by slugs or snails. And suffer from dry weather. This needs improvement.

So there are curly cale plants growing in the garden soil under insect screen mesh.

In this area there are also Brussels sprout plants growing in round holes in the soil. Easy for watering the plants. These holes are 5 to 8 centimeters (2 to 3 inch) deep, diameter is 10 centimeters (4 inch).


Right half:

In the front part there are 3 rows of strawberry plants. There is straw on the soil; straw keeps the garden earth moist and minimized rotting of fruits (when they were hanging). Soon the strawberry runners will be planted in bottomless flower pots in the garden soil.

There is a tomato roof next to the water barrel with 9 plants under it. More info about this tomato roof in tip 7.

There are also many sweet pepper plants in this area, each plant with a “watering pot” (bottomless flower pot) around its stem. Some plants grow under an arc roof.

In this part there is also a rack made of wooden laths and iron netting. Under the rack there is a cucumber plant. Tendrils of the cucumber plant grow (and are led) through the holes of the iron netting.


In the middle part there are bush beans and stake beans growing. First bean harvest was at June 12.

At each stake there are 5 or 6 bean plants in a lowered plant bed. Plants grow in a mixture of garden soil and compost. There is hay around the bean plants. Hay prevents the garden soil from drying out fast. A lowered plant bed eases watering; water flows towards the roots of the bean plants (and does not “flow aside away”).


In the rear part, there are potato plants growing.

In the corner of the rear part there are 2 compost containers, next to each other, made of square paving stones (30 centimeters, 12 inch). In the front container there is fresh plant material. In the rear container there is converted compost. More info about these containers in tip 1.


The green plastic compost container at the end of my garden is used as a tool storage (for a hoe, rake, spade etcetera).


Backyard garden, July 1, 2019

Photo of the backyard garden on July 1, 2019.


In the front area of the garden there are 2 compost containers (next to each other) made of paving stones. The right side container has fresh plant material. The left side container is empty now. Soon half composted plant material will be transported from the right side container to the left side container.

Behind the compost containers there are rows of onions (sets), carrots and beetroots.

Futher in the garden there are 2 rows of Chicory (witloof) plants and 1 row of bean plants. Some chicory plants have been eated by snails. I will thin out the chicoree plants in my allotment garden and replant the picked plants in the backyard garden.

There are also 2 rows of strawberry plants. The runners are planted in bottomless flower pots soon.

Behind the strawberry plants there is a greenhouse made of white bricks. The soil level in the greenhouse is about 2 feet below the soil level in the garden. On top of the greenhouse there are transparent corrugated plates.

In the greenhouse there are sweet pepper plants growing, each plant with a bottomless watering pot.

To keep the temperature in the greenhouse low enough, there is a white sheet (slanting) over the roof of the greenhouse. It is fixed with elastic cord, screw hooks and clamps. At one side (the north side) the sheet is about 60 centimeters (2 ft) above the roof to have enough light in the greenhouse. This “sheet construction” makes the greenhouse cool and not too dark.

Between strawberry plants and the greenhouse there are steak beans.

Next to the greenhouse there are tomato plants under a straight roof or under a curved roof. And sweet pepper plants are growing.


Between the tomato plants and the green fence there is 1 row of early (home grown) leeks in round holes in the soil. Also lettuce plants and a rack over a cucumber plant. Against the fence there is a grape plant.

Between the step stones there are 2 lowered plant beds with small winter leeks.


New plants

On July 1, there are some sweet pepper plants left. And there are bean plants and little lettuce plants in flower pots. All plants to be planted out later.


Front garden, July 1, 2019

The front garden is towards south. On this photo a part of the front garden at July 1, 2019. Many summer flower plants.


14 Responses to Sjef’s garden

  1. Jenn says:

    I like your garden. I am in Chicago, and I think it is colder here. Your tips are wonderful!!

  2. Rachel says:

    Thank you for sharing your garden photos and tips!

  3. Pingback: Welcome | sjefgardentips

  4. Oli says:

    Sjef, thanks for the informative site. If I wanted to grow Belgian endive on a large scale, would you recommend differently? I am in South Africa in the Overberg region. We have a winter rainfall (June to September) and hot dry summers ( December to February). Any further information would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Hello Oli,
    For large scale growth of Belgian Endive you better search on the internet for information. I don’t know the details. Growing the plants (with green leaves) will be about the same as in my garden. But growing white heads in the dark (after cutting the foliage) will be different. I know that on a large scale the heads grow in the dark while the roots are in big containers with running water and nutrients.
    Sorry that’s all I know about this topic.
    Good luck and greets, Sjef

  6. Oli says:

    Hi Sjef,

    Thank you for answering my comment. One more question? Would moles be a big problem for growing endive? My soil conditions would be perfect but now I do have moles. How can one work around this?

    Regards Olivier.

    • Hi Oli,
      Sorry I’m not a mole expert. In our allotment garden there are only few moles.
      I suggest to look on the internet for a solution (How to get rid of moles).
      Good luck,

  7. pivi63 says:

    Hi Sjef, I am really glad I came across your blog – so many useful tips and informations. Dank je wel

  8. Joye says:

    Hello Sjef, Thank you for a wonderful insight to your garden and tips. Very interesting and informative. I’m wondering why your tomatoes are grown in pots, in the garden.
    Kind regards, Joye

    • Hi Joyce,
      You’re welcome and thanks for the complement.
      About het tomatoes; all plants grow in the garden soil.
      Under a roof, all plants have a “watering pot”. That is the top part of a plastic flower pot.
      It eases watering the plants; water drops in the soil towards the roots near the stem.
      When pouring water on dry sand under the roof, water will not drop in the soil but it will spread over the dry sand.
      And only little water will drop near the roots.
      I have added this info to the page.

      Greets, Sjef

  9. Gary says:

    Hey there, this is Gary from
    I’m emailing you today because we just updated our article on growing orchids indoors.
    Did you know that according to the USDA 2015 Floriculture Crops Summary, orchids topped the “Potted Flowering Plants Sold for Indoor or Patio Use” category with $288 million in value? That’s a lot of flowers!

    While updating the article, I noticed you linked to:
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    You can review the article on these hot plants at:
    It might make a great addition and resource to your page.

    All The Best,

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