Lifestyle

A late blast of summer on the allotment

Summer suppers with fresh peas and beans. Skinny green beans, flat Gold of Bacau, topped and tailed, quickly dropped into burbling water. With or without peas that have been eaten at the table straight from the pod like superior sweets.

Courgettes so fresh they too can be enjoyed barely cooked – though also delicious baked with tomatoes as a side dish for dinner. These join the chard we cannot make much of a dent in. Beautiful plants of savoyed red-ribbed leaf, classic thick white-stemmed Swiss, colouring-crayon rainbow chard, all with leaves of an astonishing brilliant green. Currently, these are mostly eaten quickly steamed, perhaps lightly dressed with good extra virgin olive oil, maybe a squeeze of lemon.

There are dill flowers for smoked or lightly cured salmon, a few leaves to brighten up a simple fish dish or salad. Small new patches are scattered through the plot. Coriander mostly left now for the flowers to quietly go to seed. Some of both of these herbs will be saved for next year’s sowing, although I confess to a large unopened bag of mammoth dill from Ukraine.

The Halloween pumpkin plant has almost taken over. Its giant triffid leaves and stems extravagantly spread like something from a more tropical garden. Its fruit will be hollowed and candlelit, perhaps some of its flesh turned into a sweet pie. Another squash creeps along. Greedily reaches out. I almost fear for its neighbours.

The few painted mountain corn are tall, though still lacking silks. We will hope for beautiful surprises when they’re peeled and revealed. Still the most perfect thing we’ve ever grown.

The sunflowers from various saved seed are spread out, red-hearted and deep orange heads now almost perpetual home to stoned bees. We will grow the larger pure yellow next year.

Next week is September. The days are shorter now. Most everything’s slowing down. Summer starts its shudder to a halt.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com

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