Paradise is a well organised tuppaware draw. A deep, pull out draw, not a cupboard, so one can look down on the neat regimental lines and inspect the troops rather than scrabble around to find the one you want, which is in invariably skulking at the back of the cupboard. Lids in size order, left to right, lined up on their sides for easy access. Bases stacked one inside the other like Russian dolls. No bottomless lids, no lidless bottoms, no cracked corners, missing seals or tomato stain lines. Order. Because in order there is peace.
My tuppaware drawer is nothing like this. Worse still, it’s not even a drawer but a cupboard. In fact, nothing in my life is like this anymore. I used to be very neat, but let me tell you it is exhausting. It takes a lot of time, it can be quite stressful and the moment of satisfaction you get when you sit, still and calm, amongst the order is only fleeting because as soon as you move a toe everything is all out of place again. I still look longingly at tidy tuppaware drawers, especially when I open my own messy cupboard and am shelled by a barrage of spring-loaded mismatching lids and bottoms, but a trip to the veg patch yesterday reminded me that I am well shot of tidiness.
When I first started growing veg I kept the beds obsessively neat. I measured the two centimetre gap between each carrot seed as a sowed them. Enough said. But I soon realised that, unless I was going to spend every day at the patch, this approach was not sustainable. It was a Sisyphean task too. If just one drill was a wonky or one seedling didn’t take, leaving a gap in the row, it stood out like a sore thumb and the whole effect was lost. So I consigned my dream of an ordered patch to the fairytale world where tuppaware drawers are neat and today the patch is a ramshackle tumble of trailing nasturtiums, courgette leaves flopping over rows of lettuce, broken bean canes tied up with guy-ropes and string.
I went up there yesterday and found it especially messy because I have been away for a fortnight and the weeds have taken over. On first view it looks like a disaster, as if someone has ransacked the patch (actually, the mice have done just that to the sweetcorn). But amongst the chaos there is surprising productivity and beauty. Forage around in the undergrowth and you will find courgettes, beetroot, runner beans, herbs, lettuce, sweetcorn (some mauled), raspberries, baby celeriac, carrots, spring onions and more – a bounteous harvest. There are flowers too, the dahlias are spectacular and I pick them for the kitchen table, so too the cosmos, snapdragons and calendula. It is riotous, bustling and joyful. So yes, there might be peace in order, but there is also beauty in mess and that, I think, brings a far richer kind of peace.
No blog next week because it’s supper club week. This one is sold out but there are spaces for Friday 25thOctober – menu tbc but think squash, kale, plum shrub cocktails, apple strudel – so do come! Book here! I’ll be back with a Hero Harvest the week after.