There’s been too much cooking of late. I’ve been feeling the need to get dirt in my fingernails rather than pastry. To get the sun on my back rather than chefs’ whites. And the patch has noticed my absence too, becoming, as it has, a bit weedy around the edges and ever so slightly petulant.

So this week I promised the patch my undivided attention. It’s certainly happier for a good feed, water and weed (aren’t we all, darling) and ready to meet its public. Having published the patch plan back in January (see previous blog here) I thought I’d give you a progress report. Inevitably it looks nothing like the Patch Plan and there’s a way to go before perfection is achieved, but that’s the fun of allotmenting isn’t it – there’s always something to do.

Greenhouse

You can almost see the plants (weeds included, little buggers) grow in here at the moment. It’s wet, warm and sunny and they love it. We’ve harvested the first crop of tomatoes, cucumbers and endless basil. The aubergine flowers are looking promising too. Now is the time to keep feeding and watering like you were fattening them up for the pot. Which in a way I suppose you are.

Three Sisters

This is a first for the G&G veg patch and one we will be repeating. It’s an ancient, and excellent, method of companion painting called Three Sisters – the sisters being sweetcorn, squash and climbing beans. The sweetcorn acts as a stake for the french beans, the squash acts as ground cover for the both, keeping in moisture and suppressing weeds, and the corn keeps the squash sheltered from damaging winds. It’s a fantastic space-saver and jolly pretty too.

Neat Lines

This little spot appeals to my quest for neatness (for those that know me well who are now scoffing at this assertion – I mean my love of neatness rather than my inability to implement it). Nice rows of happy beetroot, bulb fennel and baby leeks with splashes of colour from the wild fennel and nasturtiums. Incidentally, wild fennel flowers are incredible at this time of year. Catch them when they’re full of nectar and bright yellow. They taste like little aniseed bombs dipped in honey. The ultimate allotmenteers sweetie.

Fruit

I’m getting into fruit much more this year. After a bad start (the newly planted Victoria plum died overnight) we bounced back with a wonderfully decadent cherry harvest, pretty good strawberries and now the Autumn raspberries have arrived (bit early I agree, but I’m not complaining!). Autumn raspberries are much easier than Summer ones. The former fruits on the same year’s growth so one just lops them off at the base every winter. Where as Summer fruiting varieties fruit on the previous year’s growth and a judicious use of ribbon to mark which stems are which are for the chop that is beyond me.

The Benevolent Farmer Brown, who owns the garden I grow in, told me of a Chinese proverb the other day as we weeded our respective patches in the evening sun:

A drink will make you happy for an hour

A marriage will make you happy for a week.

A garden will make you happy for a lifetime.

Too true.