37 weeks to go…

by Max Akroyd

 

The end of the growing season is almost here. I may have lots of bonny green things ready to plant out – quick-growing beneficiaries of the dwindling light and warmth – but it’s a minor act of defiance. The shrinking back to winter’s quiet core is underway. The rich, seductive light at dawn and dusk will soon be replaced by something altogether less compromising…

But in the circle of growing the end is just another word for the beginning. On our clay soil, I’m convinced that September and October are the digging months. I’m spurred on by the possibility of ordering the beds for next year before the wet or the cold makes messing with the soil ill-advised. There’s also an October deadline: what were potato beds have to transformed by the end of next month into fertile ground for over-wintering broad beans, peas, garlic and onions. 

It doesn’t stop there. Recent converts to green manure have to get their expensive seeds in the ground before October’s out. That means a mass unveiling of all the beds under plastic mulch and much raking and forking about. Accordingly, most of sunny last week was spent in the Kitchen Garden trying to knock some sense into the straggly remanants of the old season’s mixed lot.

Likewise, we hacked our way through the jungle in the polytunnel and ruthlessly stripped the vines of any fruit, whatever the colour. This will seem premature to anyone who doesn’t have to hide their tunnel in a dingy corner away from the ravages of our autumn west wind. Six barrowfuls of slightly blighted vines were carted off to the burning pile and the fruits of all hues, shapes and sizes set out to dry: summer’s vivid palette remembered.